There were times when the Wankhede cheered, rejoiced, celebrated, got its pulse rate racing and then heaved a sigh of disappointment at the end of it. All the smiles and hopes of an Indian march into the final had to make way for heartbreak as West Indies chased down a total of 190-plus with an array of attacking strokeplay. Yes, there were moments when India were very much in the match, but the West Indian batting proved to be too brutal at the end of it.
When asked if India were short by 15-20 runs in hindsight, India captain MS Dhoni said, “You have to realise it was half an hour early start, a bad toss to lose, so 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 the way would have liked to.”
Talking about no-balls, Lendl Simmons – the Man of the Match - got as many as three lives in the entire innings. He was out caught by Jasprit Bumrah off R Ashwin’s bowling, and then caught off Ashwin off Hardik Pandya’s bowling. Both were a result of no-balls. It wasn’t intentional as Dhoni later said, but were crucial moments in the game that changed the course of the match.
“Frankly, you have to take into account that nobody wants to bowl a no-ball but it is just that on these tracks like these when it is so difficult,” Dhoni said about the no-ball issue. “If you bowl a no-ball and get a wicket off that no-ball then there is no one else to blame because also one of the catches was a brilliant catch that was taken off the no-ball. What it does is that it gives you a free-hit and the batsmen get a chance to get into some kind of a momentum. So I feel that the point at which the no-balls were bowled were quite crucial.
“Nobody wants to bowl a no-ball so I don’t want to be too tough on them but when there is pressure you have to be at your best. No-ball is something that can be avoided, especially the front foot no-ball, you practice more and more.”
India can take a few positives from the game though. Virat Kohli’s form being the biggest one, and Ajinkya Rahane rising up to the occasion when given an opportunity. Throughout the tour, Rahane had been warming the bench, but when he was asked to replace Shikhar Dhawan as opener for the semi-final, Rahane scored a sedate 40 to keep the scoreboard ticking from one end. Dhoni here, reasoned his selection over Dhawan. “If you see, Shikhar has been batting quite well but he has not been able to convert. The thing with Rahane is he is someone who is quite calm and composed and he knows his responsibility in the team. This is the kind of innings that is expected of him. He isn’t someone who is going to bat like Rohit Sharma or Virat Kohli.
If you see, someone who is orthodox can give us that platform from where we can launch and score those extra 10-15 runs in the last few overs. Both of them are very good but it’s just that Shikhar wasn’t able to convert starts. In games like these often you want to give the new guy a go. Where Shikhar had the edge was in a few games before the World Cup. Other than that, if you see the stats, Ajinkya in such conditions like in the IPL, he’s been among the leading run-scorers as an opener. So those were the reasons behind it. I’m glad that after facing a few deliveries, he got a start and did what he does best.”