Mumbai, Apr 1: India's dreams in the ongoing ICC World T20 came to a tragic end after West Indies defeated Men In Blue by 7-wickets at Mumbai's Wankhede Stadium.
Chasing a target of 193, Darren Sammy-led Caribbean side reached comfortably home without major hiccups as Lendl Simmons, playing his first match of the tournament after drafted into the side as a replacement, smashed an unbeaten 82 to star with the bat.
India skipper MS Dhoni during the post-match press conference admitted that his team fell short of 30 runs.
Virat Kohli played yet another unbeaten knock, but his brilliant 89 off just 47 balls took his side to just 192 in the given 20 overs. But given the kind of batting surface Wankhede had and keeping the 'dew factor' in mind, the hosts understood they fell short of 25-30 runs.
Invited to bat first, India got off to a brisk start by openers Rohit Sharma (43 off 31 balls) and Ajinkya Rahane (40 in 35 deliveries) but, after Rohit's departure, Rahane couldn't give the much needed momentum.
The right-handed batter was given preference over out-of-form Shikhar Dhawan in the crucial semi-final match. Rahane, playing his first game in the tournament, played just 2 fours in his innings and this was one of the reasons for India's slow batting in the middle overs.
Rahane amassed runs at a strike rate of just 114.29, which was tad too slow looking at the pitch. Barring Rahane, every batsman who scored 30+ in the semi-final game played big strokes and their strike rate was far better than the Mumbai batter.
India would have put up a better total on the score board, had Rahane played some big strokes. Kohli always takes some time to settle on the crease and the middle-order batter took his time to acclimatise with the conditions. Thus, it was Ajinkya Rahane's duty to play some big hits instead the batter only took singles and doubles.
Was resting Shikhar Dhawan, a fault?
Ajinkya Rahane, truly deserved a spot in the Indian squad, but Shikhar Dhawan could have been a better option for the side for obvious reasons, he is a better hitter of the ball than Rahane.
It is a known fact that the left-handed batter would have scored 60+ runs had he played 35 deliveries. Also, Dhawan is a better hitter of the ball and, just like Rohit Sharma, he too is capable of hitting sixes. India definitely missed a big stroke player in Dhawan and that reflected in India's final tally.
A big innings from Shikhar Dhawan was long overdue, and the Delhi-lad would not have disappointed this time, because the Wankhede pitch had nothing much to give to the bowlers. And that would have ensured an additional 20-30 runs.
Full credit to Rahane's calm and composed innings, but India perhaps lost the momentum in those crucial 7th to 14th overs because former failed to play big strokes.