Champions! Champions! Windies dance to T20 World Cup title

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Image Courtesy: © Twitter - ICC

Champions! Champions! Windies dance to T20 World Cup title

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Arun S Kaimal


Needing 19 off the last over, Carlos Brathwaite did the unimaginable scoring four sixes off the first four balls to take West Indies to their second World T20 title at the Eden Gardens on Sunday. Earlier put in to bat, England made 155 before Samuels starred with a special knock to lead the chase.

Brief Scores: England 155/9 in 20/20 overs (Root 54*(36), Buttler 36(22), Brathwaite 3/23, Bravo 3/37) lost to West Indies 161/6 in 19.4/20 (Samuels 85*(66), Brathwaite 34*(10), Willey 3/20) by four wickets

Chasing a tricky total of 156 for the title, West Indies got off to an uncharacteristic start scoring just one run off the first over off David Willey. Eoin Morgan did a “Dhoni-esque” bowling change for the second over and introduced Joe Root to take the speed off the bowl. After taking six balls to get off the mark, Johnson Charles looked under pressure in the middle and tried to hit Root out of the ground, only to sky it to give Ben Stokes at mid-on the catch.

Although his partner fell to the off-spinner, Chris Gayle took on Root the next ball. An outside edge followed, but to the relief of Gayle and the Windies, the ball flew past the inside ring and outran the players to the rope. But Gayle was not finished, he tried it again. But this time, he wasn’t so lucky. Stokes once again donned the role of the catcher, this time taking it at long-on.

Just like their rivals, who lost three wickets for 23, the boys in maroon also went three down shortly with David Willey trapping last match’s hero for the Windies, Simmons, for a golden duck. Incidentally, the two heroes in the semi-finals – Jason Roy and Lendl Simmons – failed to open their account in the final, lasting two and one balls respectively.

The last time Windies won the World T20 title back in 2012 in Sri Lanka, Marlon Samuels starred for them with a 78 off 56 balls and the Windies needed him to once again deliver a big innings to lift the title. Samuels smashed Chris Jordan for three boundaries before the end of the powerplay and started the revival of the Windies innings. But Plunkett found an edge of his bat in the seventh over to give Jos Buttler a catch. The umpire raised the finger and Samuels walked back disappointed and the rudimentary check for the no-ball followed. But from the hero, Jos Buttler became a villain in seconds as the replays showed the ball bouncing off the ground into his gloves.

Samuels returned and with it, the Windies hopes. The required run rate kept on climbing as Adil Rashid and Plunkett kept a check on the scoring rate with some tight overs. The Windies needed 102 off the final 10 overs and Samuels was the lone man standing between England and the title. With the run rate climbing the Windies needed big shots, but Bravo perished in the 14th over in an attempt to up the ante after playing a strange knock of 25 off 27 balls.

Samuels was still there, and he started his charge in the 15th over by smashing Plunkett for two sixes. But once again it all went downhill the next over with David Willey removing Andre Russell and Darren Sammy to leave the chase in tatters. Samuels continued the lone fight for the title, even after his teammates took rest in the comfort of the dressing room. The game continued to remain in balance with the momentum shifting from one side to another after every over. 

Chris Jordan bowled the penultimate over and conceeded just eight runs to leave the Windies needing 19 off the last over for a victory. Samuels remained at the non-striker end and Carlos Brathwaite was facing the ball from Ben Stokes. The sensible decision would have been to take a single and give the senior partner the strike. But in a classic Windies way, the all-rounder flicked the ball on the leg stump for a six over fine leg. He wasn't finished though and followed it up with two more sixes - one over long-on and the other over long-off - to turn the match on its head to leave Stokes on his knees. The last ball was a formality, but the Calypso Kings finished it in style with a six to lift their second World T20 title. 

With the win, West Indies also acheived the distinction of holding three different World Cups - Men's T20, Women's T20 and the U-19 World Cup. On the other hand, Eden Gardens once again proved to be an unlucky ground for England after losing the 1987 World Cup final to Australia. 

Earlier, after knocking out overwhelming favourites and hosts India, the Windies reached the Eden Gardens singing the “Champion” song, and for the sixth time in a row in the tournament, the coin fell in for Darren Sammy and the skipper, as expected, elected to bowl. They raced to the middle after the national anthems to take their shot at the title after their female counterparts had lifted the Women’s World T20 earlier in the evening.

With the Windies playing, the calypso beats were sure to arrive at some point in the match, but no one would have expected it to arrive so early. England’s hero in the last match, Jason Roy, walked back to the pavilion after the second ball of the match seeing his leg stump pegged back after missing a straight one from Badree. If England were not on the back foot after the first wicket, they were definitely on it in the second over after losing Alex Hales to Russell. A ‘hit me ball’ from the all-rounder arrived on the leg stump, and Hales flicked it towards the fine leg boundary. Hales thought it was four. England thought it was four. But the ball found the hands of Badree at short fine leg to leave the Three Lions at 8 for 2.

Although Darren Sammy’s gamble to bowl Suleiman Benn went horribly wrong in the fourth over with the left-arm spinner conceding 14 runs, the next over saw the England skipper also back in the pavilion. Morgan, who scored 27*, 12, 0, 22, 0 in his last five meetings, continued his terrible run in the tournament, this time edging a googly from Badree to Gayle at first slip to depart for five.

Sammy went for the kill and finished Badree’s quota by the seventh over. And from where Badree stopped Root and Buttler began. The boys in maroon, who were having a walk in the park till then, started to run and dive in a hurry to stop the flow of boundaries. Sometimes, they even watched the ball flying over the boundary ropes as Buttler made it three overs for forty for Suleiman Benn by smashing him for 16 in the 11th over.

The wicketkeeper-batsman tried another big hit in the next over against Carlos Brathwaite but walked back to the pavilion for 36 off 22, seeing Dwayne Bravo at midwicket doing the “champion” dance after taking the catch. The 61-run partnership for the fourth wicket had taken England out of the woods, but they still needed more in the last eight overs to finish on a high.

Sammy tried his hand at bowling, only for the second time in the tournament after a bowl against Afghanistan, to compensate for Benn’s remaining over, but suffered a similar fate as his teammate and went for 14 runs in the 13th over. The momentum was now clearly with England as Joe Root looked set for a big innings after bringing up his second fifty of the tournament in 33 balls.

But Bravo removed Ben Stokes and Moeen Ali in the next over to leave the team at 110/6. The wickets falling at the other end put pressure on Root, and he also perished the 15th over after attempting a scoop against Brathwaite, only to get it horribly wrong to find Benn at short leg. Although three quick wickets broke the rhythm, the tailenders tried their best in the final five overs and added 44 runs to help England reach 155/9.  

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