Some people have amazing luck! Lendl Simmons and Virat Kohli can vouchsafe. The two played terrific unbeaten knocks in the World Twenty20 semifinal, the big difference being Simmons’s 52-ball 82 won the match for West Indies whereas Kohli’s 47-ball 89 remained an outstanding knock.
Two Indians are responsible for the tide to turn the Caribbean way. They overstepped the tenets of legitimate bowling and for their licentiousness the team got caned. Simmon was the man to profit from their profligacy. He had yet another slice of luck before getting on to the podium to receive the man-of-the-match award.
The Indians should never have allowed Simmons to get that far. He was “dismissed” twice, both times to stupendous catches. He was asked to wait by the lethargic umpire, who not being sure where the bowler’s foot landed while delivering the ball, wanted to check with the adjudicator in the TV cabin. Lo and behold, scandalously, both R Ashwin, very early in Lendl’s innings, and Hardik Pandya, when the West Indian was halfway through his innings, transgressed the basic canons of bowling by overstepping the line.
As if these were not enough, Simmons, the nephew of West Indies coach Phil, received another rollover gift on the home straight. This time Ravindra Jadeja plucked the ball from thin air as it were in the straightfield but his foot faintly touched the boundary rope while landing before jumping to throw the ball back for Virat Kohli to complete the catch.
If the Indian supporters are ruing about Simmons’ phenomenal luck, they should rewind to imagine the feelings of the West Indians when Kohli had similar escapes not once, twice but thrice in a matter of a couple of balls before he got going. Kohli came perilously close to getting out to a free hit. Having made a mess of it, he blindly took off for a run not realising that the ball was in the grasp of the wicketkeeper. He was half-way down with no earthly chance of getting back when Ajinkya Rahane shouted no.
But Denesh Ramdin’s throw rolled on to the bowler. Dwayne Bravo also had all the three stumps to hit at with Kohli still caught midpitch, but he, too, muffed the opportunity. Kohli should have gone a ball later when he charged down for the second run. Lucky, Ramdin could not collect the throw.
As for the result, everything was going for the West Indies, right from the toss, Darren Sammy winning his fifth straight toss in the tournament. Yet, if the West Indians chased down a target of 193, they deserved to win the hard-fought match. Ifs and buts can be unending, but the Indians had as much a chance of winning as the Caribbean, who in the end ran out winners playing daring cricket.
Simmons is the toast of even Mumbai, his address for two months during the Indian summer, playing in the Indian Premier League (IPL) for Mumbai Indians. After pulling out from the orginal squad for the World Twenty20 with a back problem, he was going through the rehabilitation regimen to get ready for the IPL, starting next week, when the call-up came to replace Andre Fletcher, who hobbled out with a stretched hamstring in the only loss for the West Indies in the tournament against Afghanistan.
(The writer is a veteran commentator and views are personal. He can be reached at email@example.com)