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West Indies are best indeed

Chris Gayle with the trophy, on Sunday

Colombo: The Caribbean Calypso rocked the Premadasa on Sunday as Darren Sammy and Co. stunned the home crowd with an inspirational and clinical display.

Coming into the World T20, they were considered as favourites and they lived up to their promise. If Marlon Samuels showed flair and flamboyance during his amazing innings, Sunil Narine’s disciplined bowling at a critical stage ensured that Sri Lanka fell 36 runs short of their target of 138.

Sri Lanka have now lost their fourth World Cup final in five years.

It was the West Indies’ first world title after a gap of 33 years, having won the ODI World Cup back in 1979. The last ICC tournament they had won was the Champions Trophy in 2004.

Darren Sammy’s leadership qualities also came in handy. Besides providing a late burst and claiming two wickets, he led masterly, rotating his bowlers and keeping the Lankans under pressure.

After Tillekaratne Dilshan was dismissed in the second over, Mahela Jayawardene (33 off 36 balls) and Kumar Sangakkara (22 off 26 balls) did put up a brief resistance. Once they departed, there was no stopping Sammy’s men.

Nuwan Kulasekara took 20 of the 22 runs in the 16th over off Ravi Rampaul to trigger fresh hopes. But the challenge ended as he departed in the next over.

However, the start wasn’t as enterprising. It was an un-West Indies like batting, not like what the fans had been witnessing during the tournament. If you take out Samuels’ 78 off 56 balls (3x4, 6x6) and Sammy’s 26 off 15, the rest of the side, extras included, scored 33 in 8.1 overs.

Chris Gayle is just another player, as Mahela Jayawardene would make us believe. The former West Indies captain certainly felt the pressures of playing in a World Cup final as he was found to be struggling against the away swinger. Mendis’ carom ball was also hard to read as he claimed four for 12.

He survived a leg before shout from Kulasekara and then came out unscathed against another close call against Mendis. A ball later, the spinner had the final laugh as Simon Taufel, officiating in his final International match, nodded in his favour.

West Indies, after having scored their first run off the bat from the 17th legal delivery, were 14 for two at the end of Powerplay overs, and then crawled to 32 for two after 10 overs.

Samuels, though, counterattacked in a sensational manner. Lasith Malinga was clobbered for three sixes in the 13th over — a flick over deep mid wicket, a lofted shot over long-on, and then again over the extra cover.

Jayawardene brought back Mendis, who responded with three wickets in his last two overs: Dwayne Bravo, Andre Russell and Kieron Pollard.

Samuels, though, continued his assault, taking apart Jeevan Mendis. It was Malinga’s turn again as the pacer was brought back for his second spell. Samuels was up to the challenge as a boundary and two sixes followed.

Samuels was playing a dream innings, but to his disappointment he hit a short ball from Akila Dananjaya straight down to the deep mid-wicket fielder.