West Indies batsman Lendl Simmons smashed a match-winning 82 off 51 ball.
It's an amazing life Lendl Simmons leads. One day he is lounging at
his home in the Caribbean, watching the World T20 from afar. Then last
Sunday Clive Lloyd, West Indies' chairman of selectors, calls him
immediately after Andre Fletcher has done a hamstring while West Indies
slip against Afghanistan. Lloyd is simple and direct with Simmons: are
you fit and confident to walk into the World T20 campaign as a
replacement for Fletcher? Walk into the most important match West Indies
have played so far in the tournament?
Simmons gets his feet off the sofa in his home in Trinidad and tells
Lloyd he is in. He lands in Mumbai on Tuesday to join the West Indies
squad. He has taken two flights, flown across the continents and
straightaway hit training. He must be weary, no?
Little wonder then that the first questions Simmons is asked
immediately after his match-winning performance deals with whether has
he had enough sleep. Simmons smiles and assures every one that he had
"I was very rested for this game," Simmons said before happily
breaking down his sleep timetable in the short time he has been in
India. "I slept on both flights. I came here and I slept the night. In
the morning I had practice. After that I slept from 3-10pm. Slept again
from 12pm-4pm. So I was very rested."
According to Simmons one big advantage he had was the familiarity
with the venue, which is the home ground of Mumbai Indians, the
franchise he plays for in the IPL. "I was coming here. I was to leave on
Friday to come to Mumbai to get ready for the IPL. I saw it as an
opportunity to come and get ready for the IPL as well. Seeing this is my
home ground as well I know the conditions, think I read it well."
With his IPL experience and having watched Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni
earlier in the evening, Simmons said he already knew what his plan was.
"When I went out to bat I had a clear mind of what I wanted to do
because we had a target to chase. But before the game I was a bit
nervous. I was under a bit of pressure as the guys said I came here for a
job. But in all it was good. We had a target to chase. And we got
Asked exactly at what point he felt West Indies had wrested control
from India, Simmons's surprising response was never. "At no point I
thought that we had it under control because as when a wicket falls you
never know," Simmons said.
But what made the chase easier for West Indies, Simmons revealed, was
India's "suspect" bowling. According to Simmons, in the absence of spin
from the pitch and the reluctance of Dhoni to give the ball to his
premier spinner R Ashwin, West Indies found it easier to find a way out
despite the early loss of Chris Gayle and Marlon Samuels. "The bowling
was suspect. They had Nehra and Bumrah, two fast bowlers, but not
express pace," he said.
Right from the first day in India, West Indies have spoken about how
each of the 15 players is a match-winner in the squad. How each one
needs to take the responsibility to take over the responsibility if the
other fails. So when Gayle was bowled by Jasprit Bumrah and Samuels
erred in his shot selection, West Indies did not panic even as the
Indian fans danced merrily imagining their team contesting for the crown
against England at Eden Gardens on Sunday evening.
"India will certainly be aware that is not a one-man show in this
team because Chris Gayle did not get off tonight but we still managed to
get over the line and it was a big total. Seeing that he did not
perform and we were still able to put up a fight and win the game with
balls to spare shows a lot of character from our players."
Simmons did have the customary word of caution going into the final
that they could not be overconfident against England. But he was not shy
declaring that there was more than one man in the dressing room who
could stand up if the others failed. "Every one of our players is a
match-winner in our team: Sammy to bat, Bravo to bat, Russell came in,
he played his part, Ramdin still to bat. We have a lot of batting power
and any total anyone makes we can chase it. We always back ourselves to
Simmons' voice is soft. At times you have to strain to hear him. In
comparison to the other powerful batsmen in the team, Simmons is short,
lanky, less muscular. But with bat in hand Simmons loses that softness.
He can pack a punch and demolish bowling attacks without blasting the
ball hard. On Thursday evening he quietly silenced the Wankhede faithful
to their utter shock and despair. They had had come to watch Kohli.
They had come to watch Dhoni. They had come to watch Gayle. They went
back having watched a gem from Lendl Simmons.