Sometimes, there are games which make the world quiver in anticipation and excitement. Matches that leave audience superglued to their seats. Such was the pressure and adrenaline of this game as India Legends and West Indies Legends played out an absolute thriller in the first semi-final of the inaugural edition of the Unacademy Road Safety World Series.
Having been put in to bat first by the West Indies, India Legends went on a rampage with the bat. Virender Sehwag broke the shackles first, going after Dwayne Smith and the spin department. He departed after a quickfire 35. Mohammad Kaif got out after struggling a bit, but he still managed to get a couple of great shots in. Sachin Tendulkar then steered the innings in a way only he could, and departed after a world class 65, putting on a masterclass with the bat. The scoring rate was slowed down just a little bit after the departure of Sachin, as Yusuf Pathan and Yuvraj Singh were both relatively new to the crease. Yusuf was quite good with the bat, scoring 37 off just 20 deliveries. However, Yuvraj Singh was dropped by Nagamootoo off Suliemann Benn. It was a mistake that came back to bite them almost immediately. Nagamootoo came in to bowl the next over, and Yuvraj made him realize that he had dropped the match itself. Yuvraj dispatched him for four sixes in that over. He ended with 49*(20) as India Legends scored a total of 218 runs in their 20 overs. As acknowledge by Brian Lara in the post-match interview, it was Yuvraj Singh's hitting that cost them the match.
The West Indies' bowling unit had little to rejoice about but Tino Best was incredible amidst the onslaught on his fellow bowlers.He returned figures of 2/25 from his 4 overs, and got two massive wickets - Sachin and Sehwag. He was the only bright spot in a rather disappointing bowling performance.
After a turn around in form in the last couple of matches, West Indies legends were looking to go big. They were hell-bent on getting that particular title for themselves as they attacked from the word go. Dwayne Smith gave the same treatment to the Indian bowlers as the one that had been given to him by Virender Sehwag. In fact, he, alongside Deonarine, who had come in after William Perkins had been dismissed, went at a rate of 13 an over in the powerplay. They ripped apart the bowling attack as the ball flew off the bat and over the fence every few deliveries. Smith managed 63 off just 36 balls before he fell to Irfan Pathan. Kirk Edwards came in to replace him and was sent back immediately by Pragyan Ojha. Narsingh Deonarine was then joined by Brian Lara and both started pushing for more and more boundaries as the asking rate climbed up. Lara managed a superb 46 off 28 as he nearly took his team to the end. He fell to Vinay Kumar as they eventually needed 19 off the final over. West Indies fans hoped that Deonarine would get their team over the line but he too departed in the final over. West Indies Legends ended up with a score of 206/6 as Irfan Pathan gave away just 3 runs in the last 3 deliveries, helping India pick up a win.
The Indian bowling unit, like their counterpart, was leaky at times and were careless with extras. Pragyan Ojha bowled two fantastic overs in the middle and picked up Kirk Edwards, making a huge difference to the game. Credit to Vinay Kumar as well, as his idea to bowl a knuckleball to Lara at the stumps after being hit for a six off the same length was a stroke of genius. It fetched him the big wicket of Lara, and possibly, sealed India's victory. Gony and Irfan, despite being expensive at the start, made amends at the back end of the innings by not giving away many runs. Irfan got the massive wicket of Dwayne Smith, redeeming himself for the 31 runs he gave away in his first two overs.
The batting efforts by both teams were nothing short of mind-blowing. A total of 21 sixes were hit in the game. The West Indies Legends showed that they were as dangerous as their reputation suggested, and will go home with their heads held high.
This game was electrifying and was arguably the best one in the tournament so far. High-scoring, close, dramatic, you name it. This one had it all. An absolute cracker!
West Indies Legends 206/6 from 20 overs (D. Smith 63(36), N. Deonarine 59(44); V. Kumar 2/26, P. Ojha 1/24) los to India Legends 218/3 from 20 overs (S. Tendulkar 65(42), Y. Singh 49*(20); T. Best 2/25, R. Austin 1/38) by 12 runs.