Samuels seals win over Sri Lanka
CRICKET: DARREN SAMMY has been smiling for the last fortnight as his team, often against the odds, have progressed to the final. But the smile has never been as broad as it was last night when West Indies defeated Sri Lanka by 36 runs in a remarkable match to become the World Twenty20 champions.
Sammy’s team played with passion, commitment – at one point Chris Gayle sprinted 20 yards at full tilt in an attempt to prevent a second run – and skill. They also contrived to exasperate and astound in equal measure.
West Indies won the toss and batted, yet after 10 overs they were 32 for two, an unheard of score at this stage of a T20 game. It seemed as if the real West Indies, which prompted pundits (including this one) to pick them as winners at the start of the tournament, were not turning up. But Marlon Samuels proceeded to play a brilliant innings of 78 from 56 balls, punctuated by half a dozen sixes, to lift the target to 138.
There was still much work to do and West Indies were up for that. Tillakaratne Dilshan was bowled by Ravi Rampaul’s first ball. Then the wise old men of Sri Lanka, Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara, set about knocking off the target as sensibly as possible. But they could not score fast enough on a pitch that offered increasing encouragement to spin bowlers.
Sangakkara was caught at deep mid-wicket and Jayawardene felt compelled to reverse sweep and lobbed a catch, whereupon panic set in. There were run-outs as West Indies displayed an athleticism in the outfield that few international sides can match. The celebrations of each wicket became ever more joyous.
Sunil Narine, potentially a star in the Caribbean for the next decade, tormented every Sri Lanka batsman. There was a scare when Rampaul conceded 22 runs in the 16th over with Nuwan Kulasekara regularly clearing the boundary. But on his departure the game was up.
A couple of hours earlier a West Indies victory seemed out of the question. Their innings was an extraordinary affair. Initially their progress might have been deemed a little sluggish if this had been a Test match. It took them 17 balls to score a run off the bat. Their half-way total was unfathomable.
Eventually Samuels, the obvious man of the match, started to clear the boundary in an amazing one-man show.
He was especially severe on Lasith Malinga. While Mendis would end up with four for 12 and Mathews one for 11, Malinga, the most experienced T20 paceman on the circuit, went for 54 runs, his worst ever figures.