was no fairytale finish for the host nation, no culmination of a dream for its
brave captain. Instead, international cricket’s most admired team walked away
with the spoils, as West Indies justified pre-tournament favourite status by
lifting the ICC World Twenty20 2012 crown in sensational fashion.
Indies’ first global title since it won the ICC Champions Trophy 2004 at The
Oval in London thus consigned Sri Lanka to a fourth consecutive defeat in the
final of an ICC tournament, a miserable run that dates back to 2007.
fourth of the way into the title clash in front of a capacity 35,000-strong
crowd – including Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa – at the R Premadasa
Stadium on Sunday night, the West Indies had all but batted itself out of the
game. Then, it found a timely hero in Marlon Samuels.
like a man possessed, Samuels single-handedly resurrected an innings that had
been stifled by the parsimony of Angelo Mathews and the prolific wicket-taking
ways of Ajantha Mendis. Samuels tore into Lasith Malinga, arguably the best Twenty20
bowler of the past few seasons, on his way to a stirring 78 off 56 deliveries.
In the process, he carried West Indies to 137 for 6.
wasn’t the most intimidating total, but on a slowing surface that cried out to
be exploited by the spin resources at Darren Sammy’s disposal, it needed some
getting. Through brilliance with the ball, commitment in the field and fuelled
by the desire to do it for the Caribbean people, the West Indies beat Sri Lanka
at its own game, bowling the host out for 101 to complete an emotion-soaked and
comprehensive 36-run victory.
Lanka needed at least one of its top three – the experienced unit of Mahela
Jayawardena, its inspirational captain, Tillakaratne Dilshan and Kumar
Sangakkara – to anchor the chase. Dilshan was knocked over in the second over
by a beauty from Ravi Rampaul, and while Jayawardena and Sangakkara did put on
42, they took 50 deliveries in doing so as West Indies kept things remarkably
dismissal, trying to force the tempo, set in motion an extraordinary passage of
play as wickets tumbled in a rush. There is no greater advantage in a cup final
than scoreboard pressure; Sri Lanka completely succumbed to it, especially
after Jayawardena’s second-gear effort was terminated by Sunil Narine, who
sowed the early seeds of doubt by ripping his first couple of deliveries past
Sangakkara’s hopeful blade.
Lanka completely lost its head after its captain’s dismissal and played itself
out of contention through two silly run-outs. The sound of silence gripped the
stadium but the West Indies, Gangnam Style and all, couldn’t be bothered.
Samuels’s blitzkrieg, though, the West Indian innings was headed nowhere. Runs
came in a trickle as Sri Lanka began brilliantly, keeping up the pressure
through Mathews and Nuwan Kulasekara. Johnson Charles fell prey to frustration
in the first over from Mathews, a wicket-maiden, after four dot balls, while
Kulasekara conceded only wide in his first over to Chris Gayle.
West Indies had limped to 12 for 1 after five, and when Ajantha snared Gayle
with a straighter one in his first over – Gayle had never looked like he was in
any control, taking 16 deliveries for a tortured three – the West Indies
finished the Power Play at 14 for 2, easily its lowest ever. The first ten
overs yielded just one four; otherwise, forget the boundaries, even the twos
had completely dried up. At 32 for 2 after 10, Sri Lanka had a serious
final analysis, the 11th over proved the most critical one of
the game. It only produced six runs, but it was the over in which Samuels was
reprieved, by Kulasekara running round to his right from long-off as the
batsman tried to drive Jeevan Mendis’s leg-spin over the boundary. Samuels was
then on 20, out of 33 for 2. Taking that as the cue to stamp his authority on
the final, Samuels cut loose in some style.
assault on Malinga had to be seen to be believed. It wasn’t as if Malinga
bowled too badly; Samuels, though, was in the zone, unleashing a bucketful of
fury on the hapless bowler. What was pleasing about Samuels’s pyrotechnics was
that he played fabulous cricketing shots. There was one gorgeous drive over
cover and a top-edged pull, both easily clearing the boundary rope, but
otherwise his breathtaking innings was characterised by brilliant use of the
Bravo played no more than a bit part in the only partnership of substance,
59 off 49 for the third wicket, until he was adjudged leg before to Ajantha,
but that association had given the West Indies renewed hope.
hope burgeoned the longer Samuels stayed at the wicket. Having taken 21 off
Malinga’s second over, he smashed Jeevan for 14 in his second, then picked up
19 off Malinga’s third, with two more sixes and a peach of a cut-drive behind
point. In all, he hammered one four and five sixes off Malinga alone, leaving
him with figures of none for 54 from four overs.
this with Mathews, who bowled four overs for 11 and Ajantha, who finished with
4 for 12 from his quota, and it puts the Samuels innings in perspective.
Ajantha did cut a swathe through the middle order, but even after Samuels fell
playing one stroke too many to give Akila Dananjaya his only success, the West
Indies was far from finished.
dented Kulasekara’s figures in the last over by alternating between
helter-skelter running and two beefy hits to pick up 16. At the break, the West
Indies total appeared competitive but gettable. By the end, it was a mile too
far, again, for Sri Lanka.