The West Indies beat England in the final of the World T20 tournament played in India in a manner that gave new meaning to the terms ‘last ditch effort’ and ‘spectacular finish’.
West Indies won the toss and as expected chose to field first. England got off to a shaky start scoring just 23/3 off the first five overs and a slightly more respectable 67/3 off the first 10 overs. After a sudden spurt of 48 runs in the next five overs for the loss of four more wickets, they slowed down again before ending up with a defensible but not great final score of 155/9, with Joe Root contributing 54 and Jos Buttler 36.
Given their history, this total should have been fairly easy for West Indies to reach but they got off to a disastrous start of 11/3, one of the wickets being their star Chris Gayle. But Marlon Samuels anchored the innings while losing wickets at the other end, and the team reached 107/6 off 15.3 overs. This required them to score the remaining runs at nearly 11 per over, with only the lower order batters left.
Carlos Brathwaite joined Samuels and together they avoided losing more wickets but scored at a rate that seemed to suggest that the game was slowly slipping out of their reach with the required run rate steadily climbing, reaching just 129/6 after 18 overs. That required them to get another 27 runs off the last two overs, a difficult task that became even more challenging when the pair scored just eight runs in the 19th over, leaving them to get 19 runs off the last over.
Then came one of the most powerful hitting that you likely to ever see in a World Cup final, when Brathwaite blasted four consecutive sixes of the first four balls of the last over to win the game, the hapless bowler being Ben Stokes. An incredible finish.
The West Indies women’s team also won the women’s championship earlier in the day, beating the traditionally dominant Australian women. The Australians batted first and scored 148/5 but the West Indies reached that easily, scoring 149/2 with two balls remaining. This was the first time that the WI women have won the title while Australia has won it three times before.
So West Indies continue to show their dominance in the shortest form of the game. One hopes that their perennial conflicts with their nation’s sports authorities can be resolved and they once again become a power in the longer forms as well.