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There was a great sense of optimism coming into this match for India. The biggest hurdle in Australia was surpassed, they came on the right side of a last-over humdinger against Bangladesh, and nothing can match the joy of getting one over your arch-rivals.


Virat Kohli was batting like a dream and the benign Wankhede track surely must have got the batsmen licking their lips. The pitch was tailor-made for India’s revered batsmen to satisfy the egos of the stature of ‘Bhuj Khalifa’ and enhance their already ripe reputation. The pitch was Indian, crowd was Indian, but the size of the ground was West Indian. Wankhede is traditionally known to be a chasing ground, as the boundaries are like magnets having a strong centrifugal force, and when you match the brute force of the men from the Caribbean, then it equals mayhem. In such scenarios, toss becomes either your close soul or the worst enemy. Unfortunately for India it turned out to be the latter. The odds were against India right before the first ball was bowled and later as they found out even the stars were against them. Dhawan was surprisingly benched on the big night (Unlike Dhoni decision!!), given his record when the stakes are high, and also his ability to thrive on featherbeds. People might raise an eyebrow for the word surprisingly, and rightly so they have the weight of facts to back them. But my naïve cricketing mind just felt, instinctively, after following Indian cricket passionately and intently, that maybe the semis might have been Dhawan’s night (This is nothing against Rahane. He is a class act, and it will not be long before he become India’s mainstay in all three formats). Maybe, India lost the plot a bit in the first six overs where they could have gone hammers and tongs. Virat Kohli played another gem and propelled India to a par score! (For all the non-cricket enthusiasts, who might give a stern look at me, 192 is within grasp on this Wankhede graveyard!)
Rohit Sharma started brightly, and for India’s sake the sweet spot of the bat was driving the direction of the ball for the most part. Unluckily for India, he met a pre-mature end to Badree. Kohli entered the scene, reminiscent of a king entering his royal courtyard. West Indies tried to besiege him, but some clumsy play allowed the King a ‘Great Escape’. Kohli made them pay big time, making the fielders gasping for breath with his cheeky doubles and sometimes even teasing the arms of the fielders by taking on their throws.  Those rubber wrists dictated the run of play for the last 5 overs, and along with Dhoni, managed to get a competitive 192. Gayle was supposedly the main hurdle between India and the flight to Kolkata. India got rid of it without breaking a sweat, thanks to a beauty from Bumrah. But it was a calm before the storm, as Charles and Simmons laid into the Indian attack. Fortune favored them at opportune times, but they stayed true to their brand. Simmons, shrugging of a jet lag, and Charles made the fielders look irrelevant and now you could hear even a sneeze at the Wankhede. Dhoni, bereft of options, handed the ball to Kohli and the golden boy provided the breakthrough for India to breathe some life into the contest. Simmons, riding his lucky chariot, refused to bog down and was striking blow after blow. With each and every six, sounded the death knell for Dhoni and Co. Jadeja tried a heist with his athleticism, but he couldn’t get the foot of the scorpion’s tail, which stung India big time from where they never recovered.
 I don’t know how to put Rahane’s 40 of 35 balls. You can look at it both ways. As an ardent Rahane fan, you can look at is a stabilizing innings which allowed Kohli and Dhoni to go big at the end or as a staunch critic, you might say that he should have aimed for the stands right from the word go. Rather than debating on it, let’s just put things into perspective and move forward. It would be fair to say that, West Indies bullied India. Some of the forehands played by Russell would have made Roger Federer proud!(Not exaggerating one bit!), and some of the hitting by the West Indies made the stadium look like a Madam Tussaud’s museum.
Some of the stroke play that they displayed reminded me of the era of Richards and Lloyd( Ah! Those Glory Days!!). If they go on to lift the title, they will surely write another chapter of their dominance in a different format.