Four-wicket victory for the West Indies in the World Twenty20 final against England
KOLKATA (Reuters) – Carlos Brathwaite smashed England’s Ben Stokes for four successive sixes in the final over with a breathtaking display of power-hitting to snatch a sensational four-wicket victory for the West Indies in the World Twenty20 final on Sunday.
West Indies captain Darren Sammy and his rag-tag bunch of Twenty20 mercenaries had been on the verge of boycotting the tournament over a pay dispute with their board but ended it in a blaze of glory.
Two weeks since landing in India after the tumultuous build-up, at Eden Gardens they became the first team to win the World Twenty20 twice, courtesy of the most explosive batting ever seen in the climax to any one-day final.
They owed it to the blazing blade of their number eight Brathwaite who, facing the improbable task of scoring 19 off the last six balls to pull off their 156-run victory chase, smashed the first four balls for six.
It was an incredible finale, the 24 runs being the most ever in the final over of a Twenty20 international, surpassing Australia’s 23 against Pakistan in Gros Islet in 2010.
Yet it had looked wholly unlikely when the West Indies had been reeling at 11 for three inside three overs before Marlon Samuels, with a superb unbeaten 85 that earned him the man of the match award, put their chase back on track.
Yet despite Samuels’ heroics, few at Eden Gardens imagined he and Brathwaite had much hope of scoring 19 off the final six balls from Stokes, whose death-overs parsimony had been key to England’s victories against Sri Lanka and New Zealand.
Yet unfortunately for England, Stokes’ skills deserted him just when the 2010 champions needed it most.
Brathwaite kicked off the carnage by clobbering the first delivery, a juicy half-volley on leg stump, over the square leg boundary.
The next two deliveries disappeared over the long-on and long-off ropes before the fourth one, with just one run needed, was nonchalantly deposited in the stands over deep midwicket to trigger wild celebration by the West Indians.
“We have a pastor in the team in Andre Fletcher, we keep on praying,” Sammy said after becoming the first captain to lead a team to a second World T20 title.
“Good to see Carlos play like that in his debut World Cup. Shows the Twenty20 depth we have in the Caribbean. Hopefully, we will continue to improve.”
Sammy’s men had completed West Indies’ magnificent year in limited overs cricket that began with the colts winning the under-19 World Cup in Bangladesh in February.
Hours before Brathwaite’s tour de force, the West Indian women’s team ended three-time defending champions Australia’s hegemony to win their maiden World Twenty20 title.
As team mates came forward to console a distraught Stokes, Sammy and his men invaded the pitch. A pumped-up Samuels went topless and had to be restrained by his team mates.
It was their second win over England in the tournament, having beaten Eoin Morgan’s men in the group stage a fortnight ago in Mumbai.
It was also the perfect answer from a bunch of West Indian cricketers who had complained throughout the tournament of hostility from sections of the media and a lack of backing from their home board.
For Brathwaite, it proved the most memorable night of his career.
Before he had smashed his unbeaten 34 off only 10 balls, the 27-year-old from Barbados had claimed 3-23 to restrict England to a modest 155-9 after Sammy had won the toss and elected to field.
Joe Root, not for the first time in the tournament, top scored for England with a fluent 54 and must be wondering what more he could have done, having also claimed a couple of wickets with his part-time off-spin.
After David Willey had sent down the first over, Morgan sprang a surprise by tossing the ball to Root, who dismissed Johnson Charles and the danger man Chris Gayle with his first three deliveries.
Samuels, also hero of West Indies’ 2012 World Twenty20 final victory against Sri Lanka, again performed magnificently but it still needed Brathwaite’s nonchalant belligerence to eclipse even him and see West Indies home.
“We didn’t have enough runs on the board. It was a really good batting surface, maybe 180-90 was par,” Morgan said.
“We showed an immense amount of character in the tournament, not quite done enough to win it. I truly believe this is only the start of something special.”