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'Champion' indeed: West Indies overcome great adversity to win World T20

G Rajaraman | Updated on: 14 February 2017, 6:08 IST

The victory

  • West Indies beat England by four wickets in the World T20 final in Kolkata on Sunday
  • With 19 needed off the last over, Carlos Brathwaite hit four successive sixes to hand Darren Sammy\'s men their second WT20 title
  • Marlon Samuels, the hero of their 2012 triumph, was Man of the Match for his unbeaten 85

The resilience

  • Weeks before the tournament, WI\'s participation had been in doubt, due to a contract dispute
  • The dysfunctional WICB offered players 80% wage cuts, and the players turned down the contracts
  • Even in the match, West Indies were dead and buried at 11/3 before winning it all

For a team that had come together in adverse circumstances - there were doubts if the squad would play at all - the West Indies remarkably emerged ICC World Twenty20 winners again, with a dramatic victory over England on Sunday.

This really was the story of 15 players and their support staff believing they could deliver a popular and memorable triumph.

It was not just the on-field opposition that they were playing against in the tournament. Even the West Indies Cricket Board seemed to be squaring up against the players. Just weeks before they were due to leave the West Indies, the players were rejecting the contracts offered, suggesting a near 80% reduction in wages, as financially 'unacceptable'.

Also read - West Indies' hammers versus England's scalpels: who will win the WT20 Final?

Then, on Sunday, the West Indies had to scrap hard against a battling England before they regained the World Twenty20 crown at the spectacular Eden Gardens in Kolkata. And they needed the crafty Marlon Samuels to set the stage for Carlos Brathwaite to slam four successive sixes off Ben Stokes in the final over to seal a victory that appeared to constantly slip away from their grasp.

Ebb and flow of a classic final

West Indies

Carlos Brathwaite (R) and Marlon Samuels (C) celebrate as England's Ben Stokes (L) reacts. Photo: Dibgyanshu Mukherjee/AFP Photo

To begin with, Joe Root and the attacking Jos Buttler rallied from the damage inflicted by wrist-spinner Samuel Badree to help England post 155 for nine. They could've got more, but the West Indies pulled back through Dwayne Bravo, Andre Russell and Brathwaite.

And then, despite what appeared to be a sub-par score for the track, England dramatically reduced the West Indies to 11 for three. Samuels steered the side through choppy waters along with Bravo. Yet, the West Indies were left needing a whopping 19 off the final over from Stokes, who appeared to do little wrong on the field on Sunday.

Stokes had held three superb catches and had induced an error from Bravo when he bowled two effective overs in the middle but he - or, for that matter, nobody - could have been prepared for the final over assault by Brathwaite. The 27-year-old Brathwaite clouted four massive sixes to make England wince in disappointment.

England captain Eoin Morgan will perhaps wonder why he never used Moeen Ali's off-spin, even when the West Indies were in consolidation mode. Having done well to play on the openers' vanity, challenging them to go after Joe Root's part-time off-spin in the second over, Morgan did not employ Ali on a track where a bit of low bounce would have bothered the batsmen.

Weeks before flying out, players had rejected WICB's contract offer, suggesting an 80% wage cut

The West Indies openers, Johnson Charles and Chris Gayle, walked into the trap and skied catches to Stokes. And when Lendl Simmons was done in by David Willey's swing to be trapped LBW, England were not only fighting back but also imposing pressure on the West Indies.

Together with Samuels, who batted with control, Bravo rebuilt the innings. He played his part in the 75-run stand, but despite being dropped by substitute Sam Billings at fine leg, he gifted his wicket to leg-spinner Adil Rashid. But he had stayed long enough to watch Samuels himself enjoy a slice of luck.

Samuels, batting on 27, was fortunate that wicket-keeper Jos Buttler was a wee bit too far back when he offered a casual stroke to a Liam Plunkett delivery that bounced more than he expected. The ball took the top-edge off a horizontal blade on its way to the 'keeper, who appeared to let it make contact with the turf.

Willey was an outstanding performer when England set about defending the target, first with the new ball, and then, when he returned along with Chris Jordan to choke the West Indies batsmen at the death.

But they did not reckon with the fire raging within each of the players from the Caribbean, not least Brathwaite.

The fire's back in Babylon

The result was tough on England, who refused to give up till the very end, when a storm overtook them. It was tough on Root, who batted as if he were unruffled by the endless procession at the other end, and then scalped the West Indies openers. It was tough on Willey and Rashid, who kept England's nose ahead all the time.

Yet, even the young and enterprising England team would not have grudged the West Indies their prize. Darren Sammy and his team emerged popular winners on Sunday night.

Carlos Brathwaite clouted four sixes off the first four balls of the final over by Ben Stokes

For a team that left the West Indies without the right apparel, things came together stunningly. It just made good on the impression that a winning West Indies team makes cricket a more special sport.

And in the words of Bravo's viral song, the West Indies truly turned out to be a 'Champion' team.

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First published: 4 April 2016, 12:38 IST