Mon, 04/04/2016 - 12:00am
By Dorian Bryan
CHAMPION! CHAMPION! West Indies are the champions!
That was the cry which emanated from the voices of West Indies fans as they watched both the women and men’s teams take top honours in their respective finals yesterday in India in the ICC World T20 tournament 2016 at the Eden Gardens ground, Kolkata. It represents the third title of this year, after the regional Under-19 side took the Under-19 50-Over title earlier this year.
Both teams had very different paths to victory, but both finals ended in thrilling fashion. On the women’s side, a timely knock of 66 off 45 balls from Hayley Matthews and 59 from 57 balls from captain Stafanie Taylor formed the basis of a solid 120 opening stand as the West Indies chased what seemed to be a tough 148/5, which was made by the defending champions Australia. In the end, the regional ladies won with three balls to spare after a close run-out attempt led to the winning run, which was an overthrow.
The result was the ladies’ first title – creating history in the process by denying the Australians their fourth title. It was the first win for the West Indies over Australia in nine T20 Internationals and the first time a team outside Australia, England and New Zealand won a major women’s world title.
Batting first, Australia won the toss reached their total, thanks to half-centuries from Elyse Villani and Australian captain Meg Lanning lifted Australia to 148 for five, the team’s highest total in the tournament, after the Southern Stars won the toss and batted. Both Villani and Lanning scored 52 apiece for Australia, adding 77 for the second wicket after Alyse Healy had fallen in the second over for four. Villani hit nine boundaries during her 37-ball knock while Lanning had eight fours including three off consecutive balls from Dottin. Ellyse Perry boosted the total with a 23-ball 28 that included both sixes hit in the innings.
Matthews and Taylor put on a powerhouse display of their own, smashing 45 runs in the six overs of PowerPlay before taking their team to 76 for no loss at the half-way stage of the innings. Matthews finally fell in the 16th over when 29 were required off 26 balls as she pulled a ball from Kristen Beams to mid-wicket, giving the Australians their first break.
Both openers fell in the last five overs but Deandra Dottin, who had conceded just one run in the final over during Australia’s innings, ensured victory with an unbeaten 18 off 12 balls.
Taylor ended as the tournament’s leading scorer with 246 runs. “We are certainly on top of the world. I have been waiting for this for a long time and it has come at the right time. We did not get the start we wanted with the ball, but the batting did it for us. I had told the girls we needed to back ourselves against a top side like Australia and we did exactly that today.”
Lanning conceded that the West Indies deserved to win. “We did not get the result we wanted, but full credit to the West Indies for the way they came out with the bat. I felt we were a few runs short because 160 would have been nice. But we could have defended 148 if we bowled well. That was not to be. But I am proud of the effort everyone put in to get us here.”
For the men – it was an equally tense affair. A twin strike from leg-spinner Samuel Badree and a wicket from Andre Russell reduced England to 23/3, inside the first power play. Joe Root hit a fluent 54 to help the 2010 champions post a competitive 155/9.
Root added 61 in partnership with Jos Buttler (36), who hit left-arm spinner Sulieman Benn for back-to-back sixes before holing out in the deep. Dwayne Bravo (3-37) struck twice in the 14th over and Root perished in the next over, trying to scoop a Carlos Brathwaite delivery. Brathwaite took three wickets to restrict England in the final overs.
West Indies wobbled early in their chase after part-time spinner Root dismissed Johnson Charles and the dangerous Chris Gayle with his first three balls to peg them back.
Timely strikes by England kept them ahead of the game and after a solid penultimate over from Chris Jordan, the West Indies needed 19 runs off the last over which was bowled by Ben Stokes. When the first ball was dispatched over the boundary for six, Brathwaite then also hit the next three balls over the fence for sixes to send the West Indies into a further jubilant mood and into the history books - becoming the first men’s team to win the championship twice - first back in 2012 and then in 2016.
Marlon Samuels remained not out on 85, playing a key role in reviving the 2012 champions’ chase, but it was brilliant Brathwaite’s blistering total off 10 balls that saw them home. Samuels also added 75 runs with Dwayne Bravo (25) to steady the ship before Brathwaite took the team over the line.
England’s skipper Eoin Morgan praised the West Indies for their efforts and his side for the fight which they showed. “We didn’t have enough runs on the board. It was a really good batting surface, maybe 180-90 was par. We showed an immense amount of character in the tournament, not quite done enough to win it. I truly believe this is only the start of something special.”
West Indies skipper Darren Sammy stated that it was a team effort. “We have a pastor in the team in Andre Fletcher, we keep on praying. Good to see Carlos play like that in his debut World Cup. Shows the Twenty20 depth we have in the Caribbean. Hopefully we will continue to improve.”
The tributes to both teams came in swift and fast. WICB CEO and President Michael Muirhead and Dave Cameron released a joint statement.
“The men, women and under 19 teams within the last three months have made the West Indies a region worthy of tremendous attention by being the best at the international level in World Cricket. We are indeed a proud set of people today and we want to thank ALL OF YOU for your tremendous support. The men’s team has been electric and exciting in their performances during the tournament and we are all PROUD. This is a defining moment for Cricket and we ought to thank each and every one of our Directors, Management, Staff and supporters for the support West Indies Cricket has received. This is a truly ecstatic moment and we are indeed proud of this momentous achievement. The T20 format is a springboard to the other formats and we will use this as an opportunity to continue the development work we have to do to make the overall cricket product better. The men executed their comprehensive plan and we are pleased with the results. We salute the entire delegation on the hard work and commitment showed. We congratulate the team and management.”
Opposition Leader Mia Mottley also added her voice of tribute to the team. “Today is one of those specials days in our lives! Through it all – the tribulations, the doubts – our West Indian men and women lifted the spirits of six million people in the region. With the West Indies claiming the Under-19 Championship, our spirits are soaring!!! They reminded us today of our creative genius – it is up to the rest of us to believe that we are truly world class. Resilience, persistence, confidence and team work! And to Carlos Brathwaite – to the very, very end, with the odds against us, your self-confidence, flair and excellence stands for all Barbadians as the ultimate inspiration! Congratulations to young Hayley Matthews. At 18 years old you remind us of why we know that our best days lie ahead of us as Barbadians! Yes we truly have - men, women and the young ones!!! We are the CHAMPIONS!!! WE ARE THE WEST INDIES!!!”