North Sound, Antigua – Lendl Simmons demonstrated his might with a brilliant display of six-hitting on Saturday as West Indies beat Zimbabwe by eight wickets in the first T20 International. The opener cracked six towering sixes in a match-winning 63 not out as the world champions took a 1-0 lead in the two-match series.
The 28-year-old brought great excitement to the fans as the Windies easily reached 131-2 to win with 23 balls to spare. This was after the bowlers restricted the visitors to 130-8 off 20 overs on a good batting surface at the Vivian Richards Cricket Ground. For Simmons it was his third half-century in this format and earned him the Man-of-the-Match award on his return to the team. He peppered the leg-side boundaries, sending five of his sixes in the arch between deep midwicket and long-on.
He shared an opening stand of 30 off 23 balls with Johnson Charles, who made 26 off 14 balls – including five fours off a Kyle Jarvis over. Simmons then took up the lead role and added an unbroken third-wicket stand of 85 with Dwayne Bravo, who ended on 38 not out.
"I batted ‘free’ and I enjoyed my knock today, that’s the way I like to play. It was a good pitch for the batsmen and I enjoyed it. It was good coming back into the team with guys on a high after winning the One-Day Series. I was feeling like myself again; I came into this game in good form and it was matter of me going out and expressing myself. Once I got myself set, I looked to bat as deep in the innings as I could." Simmons said.
"It is always nice to have a good understanding with your batting partner and Charles said the small totals could be tricky and he said one of us should ‘go at it’. I said ‘let’s both go at it’ in the first six overs, and so said, so done. He played well and after he got out I decided to go after the bowling," added Simmons, who was a member of the West Indies team which won the ICC World T20 trophy in Sri Lanka last October.
"The sensible thing to do was to go with the breeze rather than against the breeze, so I decided to target those boundaries. I am not seen as one of the power-hitters in the team, but when I get balls to him I know I can clear the boundaries. I decided to rotate the strike against the off-spinner and I said to Bravo I would look to take the attack to the bowler at the other end (North End). It worked for us today."
The two teams will return to the Vivian Richards Ground of Sunday for the second match of the doubleheader. First ball is 2 pm (1 pm Jamaica Time).
SCHEDULE OF MATCHES
Fri, Feb 22: 1st One-Day International – West Indies won by 156 runs – National Cricket Stadium, Grenada
Sun, Feb 24: 2nd One-Day International – West Indies won by 7 wickets – National Cricket Stadium
Tue, Feb 26: 3rd One-Day International – West Indies won by 5 wickets – National Cricket Stadium
Sat, Mar 2: 1st Twenty20 International – West Indies won by 8 wickets – Vivian Richards Cricket Ground, Antigua
Sun, Mar 3: 2nd Twenty20 International – Vivian Richards Cricket Ground
Thu, Mar 7 to Sat, Mar 9: Tour match – Windward Sports Club, Barbados
Tue, Mar 12 to Sat, Mar 16: 1st Test – Kensington Oval, Barbados
Wed, Mar 20 to Sun, Mar 24: 2nd Test – Windsor Park, Dominica