West Indies complete dramatic treble
IN a year of governing turmoil for one of the most admired and respected nations in cricket, West Indies have incredibly won both the World T20 and the Women’s World T20 in India to go alongside the Under-19 World Cup won earlier this year.
West Indies women faced up against three-time winners Australia in the first final of the World T20 events in Kolkata. Despite making the semi-finals on a number of occasions, West Indies had never made it to the final but the pressure was on Meg Lanning’s Australia looking to make a remarkable four triumphs in a row.
After winning the toss and electing to bat first, Australia looked set to make a daunting first innings total as Lanning and Elyse Villani were both set at the half way stage with the score at 76-1. However, despite 50s from both Lanning and Villani, Australia’s middle order struggled to find the boundaries in the latter stages and West Indies took the momentum in the break as an incredible final over from all-rounder Deandra Dottin conceded only one run.
West Indies captain and star batter Stafanie Taylor took to the crease alongside 18-year-old talent Hayley Matthews hoping to chase 149 to win, what would be the highest total in Women World T20 finals. Matthews, who had struggled throughout the tournament, performed on the perfect stage as she hit her maiden T20 fifty, hitting three sixes in her total of 66 off only 45 balls. Taylor showed her experience to rotate the strike sensibly and simply ensure she stayed out there to lead her side to 120 before they lost their first wicket. Taylor herself was later dismissed for 59 but the damage had already been done and her side required a mere 5 runs for victory off 8 balls. Watched on by the men, the women completed the win to lift their first major title.
Following on from the success of the women, West Indies men completed the treble of World titles this year in what has been described as potentially the greatest T20 international ever. West Indies got off to the perfect start after winning the toss and putting England in to bat as the spin of Samuel Badree and the pace of Andre Russell caused all sorts of problems for England’s top order, reducing them to 23-3. Joe Root (54) and Jos Buttler (36) led England’s fight back but the rest of the middle order struggled as they limped to 155-9 in their 20 overs, a modest total at best.
Captain Eoin Morgan then shocked everyone to introduce the spin of Joe Root in the second over, who had only bowled one over in the entire tournament. The gamble paid off as both Johnson Charles and Chris Gayle looked to capitalise on the part-timer but only managed to scoop balls high in to the grateful hands of Ben Stokes in the outfield. David Willey then managed to find some swing from the new ball and caught semi-final man of the match Lendl Simmons plumb LBW first ball, leaving West Indies scrambling at 11-3. A period of consolidation from Marlon Samuels and Dwayne Bravo began clawing their side back in to the match but England looked destined to become the first side to win the trophy a second time as Adil Rashid dismissed the latter before Willey took another two in the 16th over.
Requiring 49 to win off 27 balls in a World final, West Indies’ hopes lay on a well-set Samuels and an inexperienced Carlos Brathwaite. The odds were favouring England as the equation was whittled down to 27 off 12 before the trophy appeared almost already in the hands of Morgan after a brilliant penultimate over from the impressive Chris Jordan. Jordan conceded only one boundary and conceded 8 runs off his over leaving 19 required off the final over, a daunting task at any time let alone a World final.
Welcome Brathwaite to centre stage… Hope grew for West Indies as Brathwaite flicked the first Ben Stokes ball for six over fine leg. The hearts of bowlers from around the world went out to Stokes as the next two deliveries were only slightly short of perfect Yorkers but the massive leavers of Brathwaite powered the balls straight down the ground for two more sixes, essentially sealing the title for the West Indies. Needing just one to win Brathwaite smashed yet another six to become the first West Indian to hit four consecutive sixes in T20 matches.
The incredible yo-yo match reduced Stokes to tears as the West Indians danced the night away to ‘Champion’, an apt song released by their very own Dwayne Bravo. Intense words were spoken about the West Indies Cricket Board by Captain Darren Sammy at the presentation to remind the cricketing world of the struggles his side has faced recently and further illustrated the remarkable victory of all three of their teams.
Featured image: T20 WorldCup.com