World Twenty20: Calypso in Colombo as Marlon Samuels stuns Sri Lanka to seal trophy for West Indies
It might be pushing it a bit to suggest that West Indies erased 10 years of pain in a single match last night.
But their extraordinary victory in the World Twenty20 final, propelled by an equally extraordinary innings from Marlon Samuels, will reignite passion in the Caribbean where supporters had become wearily accustomed to failure, mediocrity, internal bickering and everything that cricket there is supposed not to be about. The game had become a kind of anti-calypso.
The defeat of Sri Lanka by 36 runs was a spectacular piece of party pooping, not least because the host nation were already hanging out the bunting and arranging the drinks a quarter of the way through the match. At last, they were destined to win one of the game's majors after three losing finals in five years.
After 10 overs, having chosen to bat first, West Indies had prodded and hobbled their way to 32 for 2. Their batting until that point had been an embarrassment, almost as if they were trying to save a Test match on the last afternoon of the fifth day.
There seemed no way they could post a total that was either challenging or acceptable. And then along came Samuels.
He had reached 20 from 32 balls after coming in to face the sixth ball of the first over. This was, on reflection, a prime example of surveying the scene. Having surveyed, boy, did he like what he saw. His next 58 runs took 24 balls, his last 52 a mere 19.
There were six sixes, over cover, long on and mid-wicket, the last of which went for 108 metres about 10 times quicker than Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake, cricket-crazy both, can travel the distance.
By that time, Samuels had nothing to lose. Somebody had to go for broke, but what style and panache he displayed. His hitting is somehow purer than that of Chris Gayle, his slightly more illustrious colleague.
"This is a victory for the entire Caribbean," said Samuels. "I decided I had to go when I did because there was no point in waiting any longer."
But it was a victory for Samuels too. A promising but unfulfilled career seemed to be down the pan when he was banned for two years for associating with bookmakers.
He came back determined to atone and a hugely successful Test series in England earlier this year was the first sign that he meant business. Now this incredible innnings.
Gayle was one of the early failures last night, setting out his stall as he had in the semi-final, and preparing to cash in later. It looked an unwise policy when he was beaten by a straight one from Ajantha Mendis and lbw for three from 16 precious balls.
Mendis posed difficulties throughout and conceded only 12 runs from his four overs. But this was offset by Lasath Malinga, whose yorkers were summarily despatched by Samuels.
He was out at the start of the 18th over to the teenage spinner Akila Dananjaya when Darren Sammy, the West Indies captain, stepped briskly to the mark as reminder that he is more than the non-playing captain he is sometimes portrayed as.
But a total of 137 still looked vulnerable even on a pitch which had already had 60 overs bowled on it, with the women's final having been played earlier in the day. There was no rush and Sri Lanka knew it.
The loss of Tillekeratne Dilshan in the first over merely brought together Mahele Jayawardene, their captain, with Kumar Sangakkara, their vice-captain, Sri Lankan giants. Like Samuels they too observed the scene but the pitch had slowed considerably and West Indies had enough slow men in their arsenal to make it count.
The leg-spinner Samuel Badree removed Sangakkara, caught on the leg- side boundary, and Jayawardene having already been dropped twice reverse-swept the brilliant Sunil Narine to point. Narine took three wickets for nine runs in 3.4 overs on a pitch that he loved.
Sammy said: "This is for the people of the Caribbean. We have been showing signs for two years without winning much but we came here with real hope. We've got some experienced Twenty20 players and that showed. This is a moment to cherish forever."
Jayawardene resigned the Twenty20 Sri Lanka captaincy immediately after the match. But he was as magnanimous as ever in defeat.
"It hurts to lose another final," he said. "But West Indies were better than us today. We had a good start but then Marlon took a gamble and it came off. I am so sorry for our fans but West Indies deserved to win."
What this will mean for West Indies cricket going forward is difficult to judge. But it was a triumph against the odds by cricketers who dug deep to achieve it. Cricket in the Caribbean might just be back.
WEST INDIES 137-6 SRI LANKA 101
West Indies win by 36 runs
(One Day): West Indies beat Sri Lanka by 36 runs
West Indies won toss
J Charles c Kulasekara b Mathews 0
C H Gayle lbw b B A W Mendis 3
M N Samuels c B M A J Mendis b M K P A D Perera 78
56 balls 6 sixes 3 fours
D J Bravo lbw b B A W Mendis 19
19 balls 1 six
K A Pollard c M K P A D Perera b B A W Mendis 2
A D Russell lbw b B A W Mendis 0
*D J G Sammy not out 26
15 balls 3 fours
†D Ramdin not out 4
Extras (lb2 w3) 5
Total (for 6, 20 overs) 137
Fall: 1-0, 2-14, 3-73, 4-87, 5-87, 6-108.
Did Not Bat: S P Narine, R Rampaul, S Badree.
Bowling: A D Mathews 4-1-11-1, K M D N Kulasekara 3-0-22-0, S L Malinga 4-0-54-0, B A W Mendis 4-0-12-4, M K P A D Perera 3-0-16-1, B M A J Mendis 2-0-20-0.
*D P M D Jayawardene c Sammy b Narine 33
36 balls 2 fours
T M Dilshan b Rampaul 0
†K C Sangakkara c Pollard b Badree 22
26 balls 2 fours
A D Mathews b Sammy 1
B M A J Mendis run out 3
N L T C Perera run out 3
H D R L Thirimanne c Charles b Sammy 4
K M D N Kulasekara c Badree b Narine 26
13 balls 1 six 3 fours
S L Malinga c Bravo b Narine 5
B A W Mendis c Bravo b Samuels 1
M K P A D Perera not out 0
Extras (lb2 nb1) 3
Total (18.4 overs) 101
Fall: 1-6, 2-48, 3-51, 4-60, 5-61, 6-64, 7-69, 8-96, 9-100.
Bowling: S Badree 4-0-24-1, R Rampaul 3-0-31-1, M N Samuels 4-0-15-1, C H Gayle 2-0-14-0, S P Narine 3.4-0-9-3, D J G Sammy 2-0-6-2.
Umpires: Aleem Dar and S J A Taufel.
Facts in figures
4: Sri Lanka's fourth loss in the last five years in limited overs final
1979: The last time West Indies won a world title, the one-day World Cup
36: The winning margin was the second largest of any T20 final or semi
6: The number of sixes hit by Marlon Samuels in his innings of 78 off 56 balls yesterday
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