MUMBAI—Lendl Simmons believes India’s lack of genuine pace bowlers helped him guide West Indies to a seven-wicket victory in the semifinal of the World Twenty20 yesterday. Simmons smashed an unbeaten 82 off 51 balls and featured in two strong partnerships with opener Johnson Charles (52) and Andre Russell (43 not out) as West Indies raced to 196-3 after India had scored 192-2.
“The (Indian) bowling was suspect, they had (Ashish) Nehra and (Jasprit) Bumrah, the two fast bowlers but not express pace,” Simmons said. West Indies cautiously played out experienced Nehra (1-24) but smacked the two other young fast bowlers Hardik Pandya (0-43) and Jasprit Bumrah (1-42) to fashion out victory.
Simmons only flew into Mumbai on Tuesday after Andre Fletcher pulled a hamstring during West Indies’ last group match against Afghanistan and was ruled out of the tournament.
“Before the game I felt a bit of pressure on myself, but it was good we had a target to chase and we got there,” Simmons said.
“When I entered to bat I had a clear mind what I wanted to do because we already had a plan to chase the target.”
Simmons said his two-year experience of playing for Mumbai Indians in the Indian Premier League was key in helping him to marshal the run-chase during which he decimated the Indian bowlers with his exquisite drives, pulls and cuts.
“Obviously it (IPL) has made me a better player, after playing IPL on these pitches you adjust to different strokes,” he said.
“I was due to come to Mumbai on Friday and get ready for the IPL as well, see this is my home ground and I think I read it well,” he said.
Simmons set up the run-chase despite West Indies losing its swashbuckling opener Chris Gayle in only the second over. He added 97 runs with Charles and then a quickfire 80 off just 39 balls with Russell to see his side through to Sunday’s final against England at Kolkata. But Simmons was lucky when he was twice caught off no-balls on 18 and then on 50 to the disappointment of the home supporters.
“Today was my day,” he said. “Every cricketer has a day, today I had luck on my side and things went the way we wanted it.” Simmons cautioned West Indies not to take England lightly, which defeated New Zealand in the semifinal after the Kiwis came to the last-four stage on the back of four successive victories in group matches.
“We shouldn’t be over confident,” he said. “We have to go to Kolkata and analyze the situation of the game when that comes.
“Conditions will be different I am sure. It won’t be a perfect batting track like the wicket today after watching the previous games back home.”
Dhoni blames no-balls, dew for defeat
Meanwhile, India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni blamed dew which he said affected spin bowling and two no-balls for his team’s seven-wicket loss against the West Indies at World Twenty20 semifinal yesterday. “When they started batting the first few overs were fine, but after that there was a considerable amount of dew which meant the spinner couldn’t bowl how they would have liked to,” Dhoni said.
Lendl Simmons’ blistering unbeaten 82 off 51 balls was well supported by Johnson Charles’ 52 off 36 deliveries before Andre Russell smashed 43 off just 20 balls to help guide West Indies to 196-3. India had scored 192-2 on the back of Virat Kohli’s unbeaten 92, the No. 3 batsman’s third unbeaten half century in the tournament after his 55 against arch-rival Pakistan and 82 not out against Australia.
India had its moments to come back into the match which ultimately ended up in a one-sided victory for the 2012 champion West Indies. Twice India got rid of Simmons, first when the right-hander was on 18 and then when he reached 50, only to see the bowlers overstepping the crease and bowling no-balls.
“The only thing I’m disappointed about is the two no-balls,” Dhoni said.
“I feel that the point at which the no-balls were bowled were quite crucial. If we had got those wickets, we would have got the opportunity to bowl at one or two overs of the spinners and get away with them without giving too many runs.
“A no-ball is something that can be avoided especially the front foot no-ball … the only thing is that if you don’t want to bowl a no-ball you should never bowl a no-ball.”
Dhoni, who led India to victory in the inaugural 2007 World Twenty20 in South Africa, said he had no plans to quit the shortest format.
“I was hoping it was an Indian media guy because I can’t really say if you have a brother or a son who can play for India as a keeper,” Dhoni replied to a question by a non-Indian journalist.
“Do you think I can survive until the 2019 World Cup?” Dhoni questioned the same journalist, who said: “Yes, sure.”
“Then you have answered the question,” Dhoni said. (Trinidad Guardian)