Last-minute injury replacement Lendl Simmons pounced on three hugely-fortunate reprieves to blast the West Indies to a World Twenty20 final against England.
Wasteful fielding cost the West Indies the chance to turn the screw on India right from the off.
Rohit Sharma’s departure for 43 from 29 balls brought Kohli to the crease and India’s star batsman was desperate to accelerate the innings.
Flailing and missing at a free hit off the bowling of Dwayne Bravo, Kohli inexplicably chased a bye only to find himself caught in no man’s land. Wicketkeeper Denesh Ramdin dollied an under-arm throw at the stumps but missed, before Bravo collected the loose ball and somehow threw wide of the stumps too.
India’s vice-captain duly set about making the West Indies pay for that profligacy, totalling 11 fours and a six.
India’s 192 left the Mumbai crowd on tenterhooks ahead of chief bludgeoner Gayle and the West Indies’ arrival at the crease. Any fears India had of Gayle battering their bowling attack were soon dismissed, courtesy of young seamer Bumrah.
Ashwin thought he had Simmons out for 18, the West Indies’ number four edging a wide ball to Bumrah who held well at full stretch at backward point, but the bowler was rightly judged to have overstepped the crease for a no-ball.
Johnson Charles was quietly building a fine innings, picking off loose bowling from Ravindra Jadeja and Hardik Pandya as the Windies opener racked up 50 in 30 deliveries.
Just when the flummoxed hosts were running short of answers, Mahendra Singh Dhoni tossed the ball to Kohli, more in hope than expectation, but India’s batting hero struck immediately, luring Charles into a false stroke as he holed out to Sharma for 52.
Charles and Simmons’ 97-run partnership still had the West Indies scenting victory however, and India fell prey to a second critical no-ball to the same man in the innings.
Simmons notched his 50 before holing out to Ashwin off the bowling of Pandya, only for a no-ball to save him again. Simmons twisted the knife by firing the resulting free hit for six.
After he was let off again when Jadeja stepped on to the boundary marker, Simmons held his nerve alongside Russell in a final over bowled by Kohli to set up a tournament decider against England.