Passion, aggression and wild celebrations. Marlon Samuels and company reignited the memories of glorious past of the Caribbean cricket at the Eden Gardens on Sunday. Carlos Brathwaite’s towering sixers blew away the much fancied side, England, in the final over. West Indies lifted the T-20 World Cup for the second time which sparked wild celebrations all over the park. The Caribbean women’s team joined their male counterparts in the calypso dance. Well, Stephanie Taylor & co too clinched the World Cup on the same pitch a few hours back.
19 runs from the final six balls, it seemed all over for West Indies. The English fans in the stands were ready to celebrate, but Carlos Brathwaite had other ideas. The 27-year-old all rounder showed better nerves than young Ben Stokes who bowled the final over. Brathwaite struck four consecutive sixes effortlessly to stun the cricket crazy crowd of Eden Gardens, mostly cheering the men in maroon. There were a few seconds of silence after such a breath-less finish by Brathwaite due to astonishment and disbelief and then it sparked dazzling celebrations.
West Indian bowling coach Curtly Ambrose was ecstatic. “See, we have won three world Cups, the men’s, the women’s here, and also our U-19 lads won at Dhaka. It’s no mean achievement.” Revealed the former speedster who represents the the era when the Windies dominated the world by virtue of their fiery fast bowling.
Darren Sammy and his men achieved something which the likes of Viv Richards, Brian Lara or Curtly Ambrose failed in their glittering careers. Finally, the West Indies have managed to win a final in the historic Eden Gardens.
“It’s something we are going to cherish for a long time” Sammy said after lifting the Trophy. In the previous finals at Eden Gardens, Viv Richards West Indies were beaten by Imran Khan in the 1989 Nehru Cup; Richie Richardson’s team lost to India in 1993 Hero Cup, and Courtney Walsh’s side suffered the same fate against India in Wills Trophy final in the following year.
So, the Caribbeans have made history in multiple ways. They are the first team to win the T-20 World Cup for the second time, they broke the final jinx at Eden Gardens. And on the same day, their women’s team also won the World Cup by beating the three-time champions, Australia. Skipper Stefanie Taylor was also honored with the best player of the women’s tournament.
The Eden Gardens pitch has always been tricky and it’s hard to predict its character. Sunday was no exception. England, arguably the best team in the world in the longest format of the game, fielded the team with more depth in batting, bowling and fielding. Both the sides lost three early wickets mirroring a low-scoring final in front of a packed Eden crowd.
Joe Root anchored the England innings with a well-crafted 54 after his team was rattled by early dismissals. Root’s show was classical, depending on boundaries rather than big sixers. Buttler and Willey accompanied him with 36 and a quickfire 21 respectively. England posted a modest 155-9. Caribbean bowlers Badree, Bravo, Russell and Brathwaite picked up wickets at regular interval.
And 156 was a tricky and tantalizing target for the Windies on the Eden surface. It required aggression mixed with caution. Marlon Samuels, who’s bat was instrumental as the West Indies defeated Sri Lanka at Colombo to win their maiden crown in 2012, provided both. Samuels anchored the Windies after they lost Chris Gayle, Lendi Simmons and Charles early. His unbeaten 85 was a calm inning under the circumstances, with glimpses of aggressive stroke-play. Samuels was given a life after Buttler made a mess of a low catch. Television replay showed that the England wicket-keeper has scooped the ball after it touched the ground.
The English bowlers got everything right, by picking up pinch hitters like Andre Russell and set batsman Bravo at the right time. The penultimate over only conceded 8 runs and almost sealed England’s win before the Barbados righthander went berserk. 24 runs in the final record is another T-20 World Cup record.
The Caribbeans were aggressive during the prize distribution ceremony too. Skipper Darren Sammy minced no words to give it back to the Caribbean cricket Board executives who criticized this team. Man of the Match Marlon Samuels dedicated this win to Shane Warne. “This is for Shane Warne”, said the Jamaican. The legendary leg spinner has been criticizing Samuels since the big bash league.
Does this win signal a resurrection of Caribbean cricket? Well, we”ll have to wait for that.