At the start of this year’s Indian Premier League, West Indian Lendl Simmons was without a franchise despite being a very talented Twenty20 player.
It was a scintillating yet well-paced innings that took 61 deliveries and contained 14 fours and just two sixes, with an impressive strike rate of 163.93.
A target of 159 for victory could have been tricky for Mumbai, but Simmons’ knock made it comfortable and should give him the momentum he needs to rediscover his best form and consistency.
Opening Phase: Balls 1-20
In just the first over Simmons looked to be in good shape, as he hammered three fours from a loose first over delivered by Sandeep Sharma to send the Indians off to a roaring start.
After such a superb beginning, he then chose to consolidate somewhat and take the easy singles and twos so as to find his footwork and build confidence further.
However, Simmons plundered three more boundaries from the bowling of Beuran Hendricks in the fourth over, as the South African struggled to find both his line and length.
After 20 balls, Simmons had already managed 34 runs in what was a healthy and productive start that combined aggressive boundary hitting with canny manipulation of the field.
Middle Phase: Balls 21-40
In the second part of his innings, Simmons began with a flurry of boundaries to go careering past 40, then brought up his half-century with a quick single into the covers.
From there, he was not required to do anything spectacular and did not, hitting a boundary from each of the next three overs to keep the scoreboard racing along.
His first maximum came from his 37th ball, as he clouted the off-spin of Shivam Sharma over long-on to move past 70 runs.
After 40 balls, at the end of the middle phase of his innings, Simmons had 75 runs with 13 fours and one six.
Tellingly, it was also the midway stage of Mumbai’s innings, with the Indians 96-1 after 10 overs and having lost opener Mike Hussey for just six runs from 13 balls.
Final Phase: Balls 41-61
As Mumbai moved swiftly towards their victory target, Simmons continued to punish all the width on offer to him while also running quick singles with regularity.
Even from the dot balls—of which there were few—he looked to be positive, and while this resulted in some swipes that saw him not make contact with the ball, Simmons was clearly on song.
Simmons' second six came off the unfortunate Sharma in the 15th over, which would prove to be his final boundary as a series of singles followed to take him past 90.
Then, on 99, Simmons clipped a single to bring up his century in what will have been an immensely satisfying innings, with Kieron Pollard hitting the winning runs from the following delivery.
Despite the lack of boundaries late on, the Indians never looked in any danger of missing their target, while Simmons was clearly relishing the opportunity to enjoy a longer innings than he has had of late.
Simmons’ century was his first in all T20 cricket and leaves Mumbai fifth in the table but four points off the playoffs.
He will want many more innings like this to help the Indians into the postseason, although opportunities to do so are limited.