A Sammy-led Windies party on Lankan shores

A Sammy-led Windies party on Lankan shores

There had been nothing much to cheer for the West Indian cricket fans once their descend from the top started in the mid 90s. There were occasional reminders about a golden past like their triumph in the 2004 Champions Trophy, and the Caribbeans desperately needed a miracle moment to prevent further erosion of fan base at home. It came in the most unlikely place -- Sri Lanka. On the face of it, the West Indians didn’t have the ammuntion to make an impact on the slow, dustbowls of Sri Lanka. 

A 17-run defeat to Australia in the first qualification match in Group B justified that popular notion and a rain-enforced abandonment of their match against Ireland further robbed them of match practice. However, having already secured a berth in the Super Eight the West Indians showed great nerves to notch up two wins against England and New Zealand (via the one-over Eliminator). But they were a completely different force in the semifinals against Australia played at Colombo. 

Once Chris Gayle found his range with a 41-ball 75, West Indies amassed a 200-plus total, and pacer Ravi Rampaul grabbed three wickets to wreck the Australian middle-order as Windies stormed into the final. 

They had a formidable foe in Sri Lanka to negate in the title round. The unorthodox ways of Ajantha Mendis (4-12) was too hot for West Indian batsmen to handle, settling for a seemingly below par 137 for six. Marlon Samuels, whose moodiness often overshadows his brilliance, chose the perfect stage to exhibit his skills, and his 56-ball 78 formed the backbone of the West Indian total. 

West Indies too had an unorthodox bowler in their ranks in Sunil Narine and he grabbed three wickets for nine runs to blow away the Lankans for a mere 101, setting off a wild Caribbean party. 

India for  the third successive edition of the tournament failed to reach the semifinals despite producing a reasonable effort. But that remained a slightly disappointing footnote as the world relished a rare West Indian victory. 

Brief scores (Final): West Indies: 137/6 in 20 overs (Marlon Samuels 78; Darren Sammy 26 n.o.; Ajantha Mendis 4-12) bt Sri Lanka: 101 all out in 18.4 overs (Mahela Jayawardene 33; Sunil Narine 3-9, Sammy 2-6). 

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