The inevitability of the West Indies – a team made of T20 superstars — being crowned champion finally came to pass as the tournament reached the Asian shores — Sri Lanka.
The signs of the imminent should have been glaring as the West Indies qualified for the Super 8 unconvincingly after a loss to Australia in a rain-marred match and a washout against Ireland— a trope increasingly consistent with the title-winner.
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The Windies opened their account with a 15-run victory against England after a 100-run opening stand between Johnson Charles and Christ Gayle steered them to 179/5. Following a nine-wicket demolition by host Sri Lanka in the following game, the openers held their nerve to chase 18 runs in the Super Over of a must-win match against New Zealand and book a semifinal berth. It was New Zealand’s second Super Over loss of the tournament.
Coming into the semifinal against Australia with just one outright win from five matches, the West Indies refrained from tempting fate further. Gayle exploded with 75 runs from 41 balls as Marlon Samuels, Dwayne Bravo and Kieron Pollard rallied around him with frenzied cameos to take the Windies to a mammoth 205/4 on a slowing Premadasa pitch in Colombo. The Australian response unravelled at 131 with Ravi Rampaul scalping three for 16. However, West Indies’ start in the final against Sri Lanka affirmed that beating the Islanders at home in spinning conditions would be no mean task. After electing to bat, the in-form openers were back in the dugout with 14 runs on the board. Samuels’ resolute 78 anchored the innings before a flourish by skipper Darren Sammy took the Windies to 137/6, with tormenter-in-chief Ajantha Mendis claiming four for 12.
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Spinners Sunil Narine, Samuel Badree and Marlon Samuels then turned the tables, claiming five wickets between them and choking runs as Sri Lanka capitulated at 101. Once written off as franchise cricket superstars, the West Indians had united to mark a return onto the arena of international cricket and clinch its first major title since Clive Lloyd’s 1979 triumph.