The temperature was soaring and fans were delirious as the two best T20 nations locked horns on 31st March 2016 in an attempt to book a place in the finals of World T20 2016.
It was the home team India versus the mighty West Indies. The Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai was the perfect venue for this electrifying contest. The stadium was vociferously loud when Darren Sammy and MS Dhoni stepped out for the toss. Sammy won the toss and after taking into account the flat pitch and the possibility of dew later in the day, decided to bowl first.
The two Indian openers, local boys, Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane, walked out to the middle. So far both had failed to score big in the tournament. After playing out the first two overs, Rohit began the onslaught in the third over.
He clobbered Brathwaite for a six over long on and in the next over, smashed Benn for two consecutive boundaries. He then targeted the part-timer Russell and hoicked two back-to-back sixes and one four to end the power play. India, after six overs, were 55 for no loss.
Rohit’s ambitious stroke play was put to a halt by Badree in the 8th over and it paved the way for Kohli to make his entrance. Kohli came into this game on the back of a match-winning 89 not out against Australia but he started scratchily and looked a bit nervous.
From his fourth ball, which was a free-hit, he tried to take off for a non-existent single with the ball in the wicket keeper’s gloves. The keeper failed to hit the stumps and so did Bravo as Kohli was stranded in the middle. Off the very next ball, the right-hander ran a risky double and was saved only because the wicket keeper couldn’t collect the ball cleanly. He then went for an ambitious drive and edged one to the boundary.
After this shaky start, Kohli composed himself and along with Rahane focused on finding the gaps and running ones and twos. The pair added 66 runs for the second wicket. Rahane looked good but struggled to get the big shots and was finally dismissed for a laborious 40 off 35 balls.
Indian skipper MS Dhoni then joined hands with Kohli to provide the final punch. Kohli upped the ante in the death overs and collected 45 runs from just 16 balls. This partnership added 64 runs off just 27 balls to help India reach 192 from the stipulated 20 overs.
West Indies began their innings with Chris Gayle and Johnson Charles, however, Jasprit Bumrah dealt them a sensational blow in the seventh ball of the innings. Bumrah bowled a swinging full toss that breached Gayle’s defence and knocked out his off stump. Samuels too was dismissed soon and West Indies were tottering at 19 for 2 after three overs.
With the required rate climbing over 10 runs per over, West Indies were in trouble but the lesser known batting pair of Charles and Simmons batted with controlled aggression and prevented any further damage. They kept the required rate under check by hitting a boundary every over and added 97 vital runs from 61 balls for the third wicket.
This partnership laid the foundation for what was to come.
As Dhoni realised the ineffectiveness of his frontline bowlers, he was forced to bring on Kohli. This gamble paid off as Charles struck one straight into the hands of Rohit at long off and was dismissed after scoring an impressive 52 runs from 36 balls.
But India failed to cash in on this opportunity as the next batsman Andre Russell decided to display his power hitting. He smashed Pandya for a four and a six and then struck a crucial six off Nehra in the 17th over.
Simmons, meanwhile, who was roped in as Andre Fletcher's replacement had reached Mumbai on Tuesday and on Thursday, he was batting for West Indies in their biggest match of the tournament.
The right-hander seemed to be living a charmed life as he was dismissed by both Ashwin and Pandya, however, both were off no balls. Simmons then got another life when Jadeja’s shoe made contact with the boundary ropes as he attempted to take a catch. Capitalising on these opportunities he smashed 82 runs and anchored West Indies’ chase.
Bumrah, in the 18th over, staged a comeback of sorts for India by bowling three priceless dot balls. However, with 32 needed from 15 balls, Simmons looked to go big and was helped by Bumrah who banged it in short. This allowed Simmons to get under the ball and hoist it for a six.
Later, in the 19th over, the equation reduced to 18 from 8 balls. Andre Russell first smoked one over long-off for a six and then drilled the next ball for a four to the covers. 8 needed from 6.
With Ashwin going for runs, Dhoni decided to go to with Kohli for the last over. Riding on unbelievable form, Kohli was India’s torchbearer in the batting department and with the ball in his hand in the last over, Indian fans expected him to create magic yet again.
However, it was not be as the third ball of the over kissed Russell’s bat and ran away for a four. With only three needed from three balls, Russell clobbered the next ball way back into the deep mid-wicket stand to silence the crowd once and for all. West Indies were in the finals while India were left licking their wounds.