Sunday, April 3, 2016

World Cup T20 : Finals - West Indies vs England - The World turned Maroon

The finals....finally...at the picturesque Eden Gardens, Kolkata, one of the best grounds in the world.
Sammy won the all important toss & chose to field - an obvious choice, considering, that they have successfully chased all targets, except the blip against Afghanistan.

With the under 19 having won the tournament against India earlier this year in Bangladesh & the Women's team having won their maiden trophy earlier in the day against mighty Aussies, it was now upto Sammy's team to make it a fantastic treble.

Jason Roy & Alex Hales opened for England & were immediately in trouble, as Badree, opening the bowling, clean bowled the dangerous Roy with the 2nd delivery. Huge wicket, considering that Roy had given England all the explosive beginnings in the tournament, including the ones against SA & Kiwis. Russell from the other end, got rid of Alex Hales, caught at leg slip, with England gasping at 8 for 2, both openers gone for nothing. Badree kept the pressure in his next over too, giving almost nothing away. Root, in at one down, looked in good nick, & along with Morgan got runs to the total, creaming some well placed boundaries to reach 23 for 2 at end of 4 overs. Badree then picked up Morgan, caught in slips, as England slid to 23 for 3. It was good captaincy by Sammy to persist with Badree & get rich dividends. At end of power plays, it was 33 for 3. The wicket looked a bit double paced, & the ball was keeping a bit low. Badree ended his quota with impressive figures of 16 for 2, as Sammy now turned to his pacers for some purchase. Root, England's most consistent batsman was looking good here as well, & with Buttler, tried to resurrect the faltering batting. The first six of the match came with Buttler lifting Benn over long off in the 9th over, as 50 of the innings also came up. Benn was proving expensive at this stage. Midway stage, it was 67 for 3, with Root on 39 & Buttler on 21...both looking quite comfortable in the middle. Two more sixes by Buttler off Benn, gave the momentum, as the score rapidly went upto 83 for 3, with 16 runs coming in the 11th over. Just, as they looked like taking the match away, Buttler pulled a Braithwaite delivery to Bravo at mid wicket boundary.....dangerous looking Buttler out for a very well made 36 off just 22 deliveries. They had added 61 invaluable runs in just 40 balls. Meanwhile, Root brought up his 50 runs in just 33 deliveries..... pure class of batsmanship, as England went past 100 runs in the 13th over, Sammy giving away 14  runs. Bravo then got rid of Ben Stokes, caught off a slower by Simmons at gully..... big wicket & then Moeen Ali nicked a wide delivery behind, leaving England reeling at 110 for 6. Root too perished, maybe to the pressure building up..... as he lofted a ball from Braithwaite behind to be caught by Benn for a splendid 54...with England having lost 3 quick wickets to be at 111 for 7...... at end of 15 overs it was 115 for 7, with all batsmen back in the dug out. It was now tailenders Willey & Jordan at crease. Willey blasted two sixes off Bravo full tosses in the 17th over, taking the score to 131. His pyrotechnics did not last long though, as Braithwaite had him caught in the deep, for a sweet cameo of 21 runs. Braithwaite ended his 4 overs with 3 for 24...excellent figures. Plunkett went out next caught brilliantly by Badree, as the score read 142 for 9, & Bravo ended his spell with figures of 3 for 37. England finished at 155 for 9 in their 20 overs....a near par score, keeping in mind that this was the finals. Barring Benn & Sammy (one over) all other bowlers were effective, with Badree having a fabulous day, scalping 2 wickets & taking two wonderful catches.
While the Windies had plucked 9 wickets, Root(he was fantastic), Buttler, Willey made impactful contributions to take England past the 150 mark. They now had a decent score to bowl at, as Windies would need to bat sensibly at the top to win.

Windies needed 156 runs at almost 8 runs an over, as Gayle & Charles walked into the middle to start the chase. Willey opened the bowling for England. The 1st over was quiet, but Root came into bowl spin the 2nd over, as a surprise move by Morgan, & Charles hit him too high to be caught in the deep by Stokes. Windies had lost an early wicket. Samuels in now. Gayle too holed out to Stokes...as Windies slid to 5 for 2...Root having consumed two extermely crucial wickets, with both openers back in the dug out. Willey got in form Simmons LBW next, as the Windies were left reeling at 11 for 3...was the pressure of finals taking over ??....they needed someone to control & settle nerves in the middle, as Bravo walked in next. At end of power plays, it was 37 for 3, with Samuels getting a couple of boundaries & looking to steady the innings. But immediately after, he casually nicked a ball to the keeper. Replays showed that the catch was not clean.... a reprieve for Samuels & the Windies. Plunkett was the unlucky bowler, having bowled superbly. 50 came up in the 9th over, as West Indies looked for some flourish & momentum in the batting. Mid way through the score read 54 for 3, needing another 102 runs in 10 overs. 50 run partnership came up in 52 deliveries....rather slow for this format, but very crucial for the circumstance. They now needed to start unleashing big shots. Bravo tried to break shackles with a six, but got caught in the gully for a run a ball, 25. The score reading 86 for 4. Samuels had reached a run a ball 50 at the other end, as Windies clearly needed someone to hit big. The required run rate crept to almost 12. Two sixes in the 15th over took the score past 100, as Windies needed another 52 in the last five slog overs. Russell got out to a brilliant catch taken at the boundary by Stokes, & the Sammy went out cheaply too....score reading 107 for 6...Willey taking two crucial wickets in the 16th over, his figures reading 3 for 9 in 3 overs...fantastic in any form of cricket. He ended with figures of 3 for 20. The match looked like slipping away from the Windies, as Jordan bowled an excellent 19th over giving away just 8 runs. England fans were already celebrating, as the match now looked clearly in their pocket. But then this is cricket....a game of fascinating uncertainties.
West Indies now needed 19 runs from the last over, with Ben Stokes coming in to bowl. And then the unbelievable happened. Carlos Braithwaite hit four consecutive sixes, as West Indies won the World Cup T20 2016. It was a script that no one would have dared to think...... in a final, to hit four consecutive sixes in the final over chasing....Braithwaite would be a name in the folklore for Windies. Cometh the hour, cometh the Hero. What a match for him. First with the ball, figures of 3 for just 23 runs & then, with the bat, 34 superb runs off just 10 deliveries. In the group stages, against SA, when he hit Rabada for a mighty six, I thought Rabada bowled poorly, but today's display changed my opinion. This is an excellent lower order bat....someone to be preserved as a match winner.
Samuels was incredible too at the other end, stroking a brilliant 85 unbeaten runs in 66 deliveries. Between the two of them, they had demolished the English. It was so near & yet so far for the men in red.....the English. They have played fascinating cricket through the tournament & created some splendid surprises. They would certainly carry some very good memories for the future.
This was the first time a target in excess of 150 was chased down in a final of World Cup T20.
The Champions dance had started..... definitely a Caribbean resurrection. The first team to win the trophy for the second time. Every match had some one put up a match winning performance. Certainly not a one man team. For a team, which was not sure of playing the tournament, having payment problems with the Board, crucial players dropping out & yet enjoying the game, playing with passion, playing for the love of the game.... Captain Sammy was understandably emotional at the presentation ceremony..... he mentioned about the contributions behind the scene, the coach, the support staff, even the playing jersey getting arranged at the last moment....it was indeed fascinating to watch this team. Hopefully, now the West Indian Cricket Board will come to terms with the players & nurture them for the future......much needed support to get back as Champions in all forms of the game....they are wonderful ambassadors of this game cricket, & it will be fascinating to watch the resurgence of this team.
The Man of the Match was Marlon Samuels for holding the innings together for a marvelous 85, the highest run getter in a T20 final till now & taking the team to an incredible victory. He did so in 2012 finals too, when West Indies pulled it away from Sri Lanka. Though according to me, Braithwaite was my man for the day....complete all round performance & then soaking up the pressure to bring up an incredible victory in the final over....four back to back sixes....Wow...take a bow !!!
The Player of the Tournament adjusted was Virat Kohli, for his fabulous performance, though the competition.
Everybody knows, West Indies is the Champion....Champion...Champion.... the song reverberating all across..... their dancing taking centre stage...... & why not.... truly deserving. Maroon is the colour in the World of Cricket for now.....

Congratulations West Indies..... we love to see you in the playing arena.....Calypso Champion...

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