Dhaka: Darren Sammy walked into the media conference with his pads still on. With the party in the dressing room still in full swing, he didn’t get the chance to change.
The West Indies captain has long lived in the shadows of the Chris Gayles and the Sunil Narines. Doubts have been raised over his leadership qualities, but he has gone about his task in his own inimitable way.
On Friday, Sammy slammed two consecutive sixes in the last over to spark animated celebrations in the West Indies camp. They now have two victories in three matches and are in the reckoning for the semi-finals. It will be tough for the Australians to advance.
James Faulkner, who created a stir with his “I don’t particularly like them (West Indies)” comment a couple of days before the match, bowled the final over and that served as extra motivation for Sammy.
West Indies needed 31 off the last two overs and Sammy clobbered 19 off the penultimate to bring down the equation. With the first two balls of Faulkner being dot balls, the pressure was on Sammy. But he completed the job in style.
As the West Indies roared back with a six-wicket victory, the Gayles and the Sammys finally got a chance to perform a refined version of the Gangnam style.
“Chris is the leader of the dance group… He was playing the Gangnam. It wasn’t pre-planned and it came with the celebrations,” said Sammy, who remained unbeaten on 34 off 13 balls in their quest for 179.
Australia had packed their line-up with left-arm seamers, and Gayle repeatedly came down the wicket to hoist them over the infield during the first six overs. While his first 30 runs came off only 11 balls, his next 20 needed another 21. He though survived an easy stumping chance off Glenn Maxwell on 26.
It was not until leg-spinner James Muirhead came in that Gayle paid the price for his adventurous ways. The googly was hoisted straight to deep mid-wicket. Once Gayle had laid the foundation, it was left to the others to carry on the good work.
Australia never left the regular fall of wickets affect their run-rate, thanks mainly to Maxwell (45 off 22 balls, 5x4, 3x6) and Brad Hodge (35 off 26 balls, 2x4, 1x6). From 100 for five, they did well to reach 178.
Had Andre Russell and Dwayne Bravo not given away 15 and 16 runs in two overs towards the end, the West Indies would have had to chase a lower target. Those two proved to be the weak links in the West Indies’ attack. A frustrated Russell even hurled a beamer at Faulkner, with the batsman narrowly getting out of the way.
Sammy later couldn’t stay away from taking a dig at Faulkner for his comments.
The following are excerpts
Darren Sammy: Cricket is a game of action… You can talk all you want but you have to play on the field. It was not easy but we fought hard for it. I don’t think he (Faulkner) will like us after this match…
There was no plans in the final over…. The first two were dot balls and I knew we needed two big hits. It’s good that we got it.
The ball stayed low and I got it where I wanted. This was a crucial win in a pressure game. Chris has been batting well and there was no worry about his form. He has been batting for long periods and that was good. He gave us the start we needed.
We had decided to come hard at them. We knew we needed to put them under pressure… Chris started hitting from the first over and that created the pressure. All the pre-match talk must have served as a motivation. We were extra motivated to go out there and chase the target.
George Bailey: It’s just cricketing skills that prompted us to get Faulkner bowl the final over. We didn’t bat particularly well… I realise its going to be pretty difficult from here to advance... We lost too many wickets in the middle. All the top-six played ordinary shots. To get 178 was pleasing and we had some chances… But we weren’t up to the standards in all three disciplines. West Indies have some big guys, and when they hit, it stays hit… I think we picked the best XV in the conditions.