India vs West Indies - Heart-rending Exit
After India's impressive win over Australia, almost all cricket pundits, fans and critics thought that Team India would win the title for the second time without much trouble, including me! We didn't have to face the mighty Australians, talented Kiwis nor the strong South African side but West Indies who blow hot & cold at times who come to cricket field with the most laid back attitude with the music playing in the background (literally). I think India's game plan was quite simple, get Gayle early and our chances of winning the match would be 70% more, irrespective of who's batting first or second, pitch conditions, team composition etc.... Maybe we weren't prepared for the other 30%.
West Indies won the toss and asked India to bat first. It was a great batting tracking but with due factor coming into play it would be tricky for the bowlers in the second innings especially India's spinners but given India's batting & bowling depth it wasn't seen as a major issue. India had left Shikar Dhawan & Yuvraj out and finally Ajinkya Rahane & Manish Pandey were in the mix, especially leaving out Rahane has baffled me since he's such a strong consistent player of pace & spin on any playing conditions.
As expected, Ajinkya Rahane was as solid as he generally is and with Rohit Sharma also firing India was off to a great start.
Rohit Sharma finally found form and played some handsome shots considering Wankhede is his home ground with a few advantages like smaller boundary as comapared to other venues, batting friendly track but I believe if he could have continued wihtout falling for 40 odd runs, he could have been more omnious and probably we could have ended up with more runs.
Kohli again started where he left off after Australia. His shots were crisp, he was finding gaps and running like a maniac. Kohli and Rahane were steering India at a good run rate.
West Indies bowled with all heart and fielded excellently but were unable to contain Indian batsmen as Kohli & Rahane kept attacking the West Indies bowlers.
What was clear by now was that the pitch was an absoulte beauty to bat on, no matter what the bowler tried to do there wasn't much assistance on the pitch.
The earlier womens semi-final between West Indies & Kiwis women was a high scoring affair too and we have seen matches where teams have chased down 200 + totals on this Wankhede track.
Watching Kohli play was once again a treat to the eyes. This man has been on a different level alltogether at this tournament. His all round shots throughout the circle was astonishing, nothing could stop him from another masterclass.
Another masterclass innings from Kohli. Is there any force on earth which can stop him? India posted their highest total of the tournament 192/2 in 20 overs which looked like a formidable total if you are an Indian supporter but not sure what Caribbeans thought of the total.
India had a total of 192 to defend on a batting friendly pitch with due & Gayle factor to consider. It seemed like getting Gayle out early was the only game plan they had probably.
India's game plan worked early with Bumrah dismissing Gayle with first ball yorker. What scenes at Wankhede, pheww everyone thought we had almost won the game.
Ecsastic fans at Wankhede stadium, Mumbai. One of the noisiest and sportive crowds.
After Gayle fell, Marlon Samules fell too leaving West Indies reeling at 19/2 after three overs. There were only two scenarios either West Indies had to keep attacking or India had to strangle them for runs considering the fire power West Indies posses. Johnson Charles took the initiative and took the attack to Indians within the first 6 overs itself, he kept on clearing the ropes with ease.
Simmons was a last minute replacement for Andrew Fletcher and had only joined the West Indies team just before the semi-final knock.
What a knock did Lendl Simmons play for West Indies, He never let any Indian bowlers settle into a rhythm. He kept hitting those massive sixes and boundaries which kept West Indies in the hunt.
Apart from the dew factor, West Indies carried more luck than India. Simmons fell twice out caught in the field off Ashwin's & Pandya's bowling but those were called no-balls which really let them off the hook and India couldn't dismiss him again after that. He played a crucial knock of 82* off 51 balls.
Ashish Nehra appeals desperately. Indian bowlers couldn't contain the West Indies onslaught no matter what line & length they bowled with dew factor playing a crucial role on a friendly batting track.
Kohli gets Johnson Charles off the first ball he bowls but the platform has already been set well by Charles for Andre Russell to take West Indies past the finishing line.
Andre Russell joined the party with Lendl Simmons to make sure he continued where Charles had left off. He hit some massive ones out of the park. Let me tell you these West Indies batsmen are some power hitters, the brutality in which they clear the ropes is mind blowing. Most of these guys are 6ft + with massive built.
Andre Russell hits the winning runs and takes off for the victory run to his team mates at the West Indies dugout. By now, the entire Wankhede stadium had gone silent and were dejected to see Team India lose to a spirited Windies onslaught. Technically speaking, there were quite a few baffling decisions from Dhoni and certain things could have been different in our approach but sitting on a couch sharing my opinion is probably easy than ground reality. I would rather say we were a bit unlucky with toos, no-balls which decided our fate.
The most heart wrenching scene was to see Kohli all devastated after the loss to West Indies. This man alone had carried India forward in the tournament and even against West Indies he's scored a brilliant 55 ball 89* and he even bowled and got the wicket of Charles yet couldn't see India past semi-finals. This tells you how great individuals like Kohli, AB De Villiers, Gayle are sometimes left helpless and frustrated in a game like cricket where your win or loss is more of a team effort than just individual performances at times.
Personally, it's been a great expereince for me to be shooting and expereincing all the action at this World Cup and I throughly enjoyed most of India's performances and I will be going to Kolkata for the grand finals between the England & West Indies and infact will be rooting for Windies to beat the Englishmen and will be hoping for Gayle storm to be the game plan at Eden Gardens. In association with Photo Concierge.