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October 7 - West Indies beats SL for first title
“God acts in mysterious ways maan,” exclaimed Darrren Sammy on a night to remember for the Caribbean Islands.
The West Indies captain looked at the ICC World Twenty20 trophy in disbelief, constantly touched it and often nodded his head while an amalgam of emotions coursed through him.
Sammy was in a delirious state through the post-match press conference after a much awaited dream had come true for the men from the Caribbean.
A global cricketing title was finally theirs to hold, to cherish and to remember it again and again when they are old and nursing their rum and coke while grand children remain wide-eyed and all ears.
The West Indies defeated Sri Lanka by 36 runs in the ICC World Twenty20 final at Colombo’s R. Premadasa Stadium on October 7, a date that will be forever inscribed in the hearts of its worldwide fans.
After scoring 137 for 6, Sammy’s men bundled out Sri Lanka for 101. The final threw up a fresh script on a Sunday when the best-laid plans of both Sammy and his counterpart Mahela Jayawardene, went awry.
But in the larger scheme of things, the West Indies found a strong second wind in its batting and that fired up its bowlers to stun the Sri Lankans.
Sammy won the toss, opted to bat but his fond hopes of a ‘Chris Gayle special’ and a rollicking start turned into a mirage.
The West Indies reeled at 32 for two in 10 overs after Johnson Charles fell on the aggressive plank while surprisingly Gayle lapsed into an ultra-defensive approach and found spinner Ajantha Mendis (four for 12) ruffling his pads.
Gayle has often frozen in summit clashes in the past, his stints with Royal Challengers Bangalore being a case in point.
Player of the Final Marlon Samuels (78, 56b, 3x4, 6x6) then added ballast and gun-fire and Sammy’s men were marginally back in the contest.
Samuels put together a 59-run third-wicket partnership with Dwayne Bravo. The tipping point was the six that Bravo struck off spinner Akila Dananjaya in the 12th over and then Samuels, dropped on 20 by Nuwan Kulasekara, took charge and remained undeterred by the regular fall of wickets at the other end with the Sri Lankan spinners weaving their fatal web.
Just like Gayle, Lasith Malinga was also fated to suffer failure. At least Gayle had the massive high of eventually being part of a champion team besides unleashing is ‘Gangnam’ dance but Malinga had no such respite.
He was clobbered for 21 runs in an over and when he returned for a second spell, a similar treatment was meted out by Samuels, who displayed enormous power allied with timing to skewer Jayawardene’s ideas about choking the visitor.
Sammy too added valuable runs at the fag end and at the dinner break, the West Indies had a score that despite its modest scale, could still challenge the host.
The 105 runs that came in the last 10 overs showed that the winds of change were sweeping across the game and out in the dugout, ‘birthday boy’ Bravo told his team-mates: “Let us go out there and give it our all.”
The West Indies buzzed all over the park and found an early breach thanks to Ravi Rampaul knocking down Tillakaratne Dilshan’s off-stump.
The agory quadrupled for the home team as Jayawardene was dropped twice and yet failed to build; Kumar Sangakkara perished on the pull and Sammy slipped one past Angelo Mathews’ scoop.
Sunil Narine (three for nine) then added a further spin to the script and the West Indies emerged as deserving and muchloved winners while Sri Lanka suffered its fourth loss in a big final.
“It hurts,” said Jayawardene, who also stepped down from his position as the Sri Lankan Twenty20 captain while outside, speakers blared a steady beat and Sammy’s men unveiled their crazy dancing steps.
Originally published in The Sportstar on October 20, 2012.