October 21, 2016

Brathwaite fires Windies to title

West Indies`s Marlon Samuels plays a shot during the World T20 cricket tournament final match between England and West Indies at The Eden Gardens Cricket Stadium in Kolkata on 3 April. Photo: AFP

Carlos Brathwaite hit four sixes in the first four balls of the last over as West Indies beat England by four wickets in a thrilling World T20 final at the Eden Gardens on Sunday.

The winners needed 19 off the last over with Brathwaite, who is in the team mainly as a bowler, on strike and Marlon Samuels, who was unbeaten on 85, on the non-striking end, as most of the cricket world thought England had all but won their second World T20 title.

But Brathwaite had other ideas as he hit Ben Stokes for maximum in each of the first four balls to once again prove his side’s ‘unpredictable’ tag. It was indeed Brathwaite’s day as he was also the most successful bowler, picking up three wickets for only 23 to help his side restrict England to 155.

However, it was Marlon Samuels who single-handedly kept the Caribbean hopes alive, keeping on fighting at a time when his fellow batsmen played suicidal shots one after another.

The Caribbean batsmen were flirting with danger from the very beginning of their innings, as part-time bowler Joe Root, sent on by Eoin Morgan in the second over, picked up Johnson Charles and danger-man Chris Gayle in his first three balls, leaving the West Indians on five for two.

The facts that last match’s heroes Lendl Simmons and Andre Russell scored zero and one respectively while skipper Darren Sammy managed only two only shows how terrific Samuels was standing against the tide. He was supported by DJ Bravo for a while in the middle, who hit a valuable 25 in 27 balls, and the rest was done by Brathwaite’s 10-ball 34.

Earlier, Joe Root hit a beautiful fifty while Jos Buttler and David Willey played quick-fire cameos as England posted 155 for 9 after West Indies skipper Darren Sammy, winning the toss for the 10th straight game, sent England to bat first.

Samuel Badree baffled in-form Jason Roy in the very first ball of the innings, but his appeal for LBW was turned down. Roy was bowled in the very next delivery though, as Sammy’s team took early control.

Andre Russell picked up Roy’s opening partner Alex Hales in the next over and Badree struck again three overs later to leave England on 23 for 3. Root and Buttler then repaired the damage by adding 61 in the fourth wicket as the Englishmen very much returned to the game.

Brathwaite then put an end to both these batsmen’s innings while Bravo also struck twice in three balls to strengthen their hold on the game.

Wiley fired 21 off 14 and Chris Jordan added 12 in the end to take England past 150.

Like Brathwaite, Bravo also bagged three wickets while Badree bragged a brace.

It could not get any better for the West Indians who also saw their female colleagues lift the women’s trophy earlier on the day. And with Under-19 title also grabbed by the youth side a few months back, the Caribbean islands have every right to dream of having their glory days back.

For the time being, there is no end to their dancing to the Calypso tune.

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