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WI champions in fairytale finish
- Bradshaw, Browne script history with unbeaten 71-run partnership

London: For years, the West Indies have been accused of lacking character. At The Oval on Saturday, in fading (almost unplayable) light, two low-profile cricketers silenced critics in remarkable fashion.

One is, of course, talking of Man of the Match Ian Bradshaw and Courtney Browne who helped the West Indies win a major limited-overs title ' the Champions Trophy ' after 25 years.

They refused the offer of light at 183 for eight and, egged on by a huge contingent of supporters who braved winter-like conditions, stitched together a record unseparated ninth-wicket partnership of 71.

The West Indies reached their target of 218 with two wickets and seven deliveries to spare and, then, threw 'protocol' to the wind by celebrating like schoolboys who have made the grade with excellent marks.

Incidentally, among those in the stands was Clive Lloyd, under whose captaincy the West Indies won their last major tournament ' the 1979 World Cup.

'It has been terrific,' Lloyd told The Telegraph emotionally. Then, pointing to his maroon West Indies tie, added: 'It has been lucky and I'm a proud West Indian.'

Though England didn't score enough (despite a committed century from Marcus Trescothick), after being inserted, they had the West Indies gasping at 147 for eight in the 34th over. An early finish was taken for granted.

However, the left-handed Bradshaw (in only his second season of international cricket) and comeback 'keeper Browne set about proving the pundits wrong. They played without pressure and withstood over 95 mph missiles from Steve Harmison.

Years on, this win will probably be remembered with the same passion and reverance as the West Indies' first World Cup success, in 1975. In the immediate future, one expects the heat to get off captain Brian Lara's back.

Lara didn't make a significant contribution with the bat but, earlier in the day, brought off some outstanding catches, including one to send back Andrew Flintoff.

That did make a difference.

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