MUMBAI: India’s dreams of a World Twenty20 title on home soil were shattered on Thursday after the West Indies stunned the hosts by seven wickets to reach the final.
Lendl Simmons fired an explosive 82 off 51 balls as the Windies broke Indian hearts in the semi-final clash at Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium with just two balls to spare and will now face England in Sunday’s final in Kolkata.
The West Indies went into the last over needing eight to win and Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni handed the ball to talisman Virat Kohli, who earlier scored an unbeaten 89.
Simmons grabbed a single off the first ball before Andre Russell smashed a four and six as the Windies ended on 196 for three after India made 192 for two.
Simmons hit seven fours and five sixes while opener Johnson Charles notched 52, including seven fours and two sixes.
It was not meant to be that way for India after Chris Gayle’s wicket was taken early for just five runs but the hosts were left to rue a no-ball at a crucial stage.
Hardik Pandya thought he had taken Simmons in the 15th over when he was caught by Ravichandran Ashwin but the umpire ruled that it was a no ball and the Windies star made the most of his luck as he stepped on the accelerator.
Simmons, who was a late replacement for the injured Andre Fletcher, was given valuable support by Russell who hit an unbeaten 43 off 20 balls, including four sixes as the West Indies made a dash for the finishing line.
Ashwin endured some brutal punishment at the hands of the West Indies batsmen, going for 20 runs in his two overs.
His fellow spinner Ravindra Jadeja was also hit around the ground, conceding 48 runs in his wicketless four-over spell.
The Indian bowlers at times had trouble getting any grip in the heavy dew at the Wankhede.
Kohli had earlier hit 11 fours and one six in his 47-ball knock as India set a target of 193, regarded as a below par score on a pitch which has seen a feast of runs during the tournament.
Kohli injected much-needed life into the hosts’ innings after a slow start from openers Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane.
Sharma hit three fours and three sixes in his 31-ball 43 while Rahane took 35 deliveries to reach 40, scoring only two fours and no sixes.
Kohli, who entered the fray in the eighth over after Sharma was bowled lbw by Samuel Badree, upped the tempo, to the delight of a packed crowd at the 33,000-seater stadium.
The defeat could spell the end of Dhoni’s reign as India’s captain in short form cricket although there was no immediate announcement from the 34-year-old about his future.