The long wait was over for West Indies. They were once the mighty West Indies, proud owners and creators of a formidable legacy, but over the last decade and a half have been a shadow of their former selves. Since their second ODI World Cup triumph during the glory days in 1979, their only ICC multinational tournament silverware was the 2004 Champions Trophy in England. But as cricket lovers the world over would love to see more often, the joys of Caribbean cricket took centre stage in the cricket world yesterday when the West Indies beat Sri Lanka, the home team, by 36 runs to win the ICC World Twenty20 at the R Premadasa International Stadium in Colombo.
The men from the Caribbean silenced the exuberant home crowds, who were all set to celebrate Sri Lanka’s first success in a global competition since the 1996 World Cup triumph. Instead, the popular Gangnam-style dance by the West Indies players started once Sri Lankan skipper Mahela Jayawardene was dismissed leaving his team to score 78 runs from 7.5 overs. The performance was repeated at the fall of each wicket thereafter.
“This is the best moment for us. The Caribbean people were craving this day for long. We know how to enjoy the party, the Caribbean people know how to enjoy the party. So, West Indies are T20 champions. This is a great moment, nothing else,” said an excited Darren Sammy, who as usually charmed the press conference by inserting jokes in every answer.
“The key factor is we have self belief — the reason for this success. This is a big step towards the right direction for West Indies cricket,” he added when asked about the reason behind his team’s success.
On the other hand it was another ‘final’ disappointment for the Lankans as they failed for the fourth time in a world tournament final.
There were no fireworks from Chris Gayle and Kieron Pollard, but an inspired Marlon Samuels who hit a 56-ball 78 with three fours and two sixes — took them to a competitive 137 for six from the seemingly hopeless position of 32 for two after ten overs. Captain Sammy’s 15-ball 26 after Samuel’s departure was also a vital hand.
“This is a great achievement. It’s now party time. I can’t explain my emotions right now. I had to wait for a partnership and target Malinga, which finally clicked,” said man-of-the-final Marlon Samuels.
On the other hand, the Sri Lanka skipper said that their failure in the last four finals hurt them a lot but he praised his team’s performance in the tournament.
“We made a few mistakes in the crucial moments. We started well but lost the momentum in the last seven-eight overs of the West Indies innings and we also failed to make a good start in the batting. Actually, it was not our day,” said Mahela, who announced that he is stepping down as T20 captain and will assess his future plans for the other two formats after the Australia series in December this year.
It was the first T20 victory for West Indies against Sri Lanka in their fifth attempt and obviously nothing could have been sweeter for the much-loved team. It was their night, and the cricket world will hope that the party has just started, off the cricket field and on it.
-With The Daily Star input