Lendl Simmons played a matchwinning knock against India, scoring 82 from 51 balls, to help West Indies defeat the home team in the World T20 semifinal by seven wickets at Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai. Simmons, whose West Indies team will now meet England in the final at the Eden Gardens, credited his experience in the IPL for his wonderful innings.
The World T20 semifinal was tailor-made for Simmons, who also plays for Mumbai Indians in the IPL. The right-hander knows Wankhede conditions like the back of his hand. Simmons has been a wonderful player for the Mumbai Indians, scoring 732 runs in 21 innings in his IPL career so far.
Simmons was originally not a part of West Indies knockout stages plans, but was forced to fly from to India to replace the injured Andre Fletcher, who was injured during their last game against Afghanistan. Simmons was initially a part of the West Indies World T20 squad, but had to be replaced just prior to the competition with a back injury.
"I got the news after Afghanistan game. The chairman called and told if I was fit to go and play the match and said yes, I was and to play the match. I was about to get ready on Friday and come to Mumbai for the IPL. I saw an opportunity to get ready for IPL as well. This is my home ground, I read the conditions well and think I read it well. Yes IPL helped me very well," IANS quoted Simmons as saying.
There were no jetlag problems for Simmons as the right-hander plonked the India bolwers all around the park for seven fours and five sixes. The decision to play Simmons down the order came in handy, even though he is a natural opener.
"When I went out to bat, I had clean in my mind what I had to do, because the game was early and we had a target to chase. So before the game I was a bit nervous. And I was in a bit pressure as I came here for a job. We got to chase the target and it was good," Simmons said.
Agreed, Simmons played out of his skin, but India bowlers also give him the chance to score runs with ease. Simmons should also consider himself lucky after being dismissed twice off no-balls from Ravichandran Ashwin, first and then Hardik Pandya, later. Had one of the bowlers bowled a legal ball, the story could have been different. Dhoni was quite disappointed with these illegal deliveries.