CRICKET / Sri Lanka runs out of steam in the final

It was time for Calypso in Colombo as a collective dream of the cricketing world, which revolved around tagging the word ‘champion’ to the West Indies team, finally bore fruit under a warm night sky, amidst a stunned crowd and a shocked host.

The West Indies defeated Sri Lanka by 36 runs in the ICC World Twenty20 final at the R. Premadasa Stadium here on Sunday night.

Chasing the West Indies’ 137 for six, Sri Lanka was a nervous-wreck and finished with a measly 101.

If the West Indies weaved a fairytale finish, it was a heart-break for the Sri Lankans as this was their fourth failure in a World Cup (both 50 overs and Twenty20) summit clash.

The diverse challenges that a small target strangely evoke were in full force once Ravi Rampaul cleaned up Tillakaratne Dilshan’s stumps. Mahela Jayawardene (33) had the onerous task of keeping his head and anchoring the chase while his nation, including President Mahinda Rajapaksa, watched with bated breath.

Exacting standards

The skipper had his reprieves on five and 27, with Dwayne Bravo and Andre Russell displaying sweaty palms, but those were minor aberrations as Darren Sammy’s men otherwise maintained their exacting standards on the field.

Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara shared 42 runs for the second-wicket but the night’s party-rights inevitably seemed headed towards the West Indies dugout.

Sangakkara failed to clear the square-leg fence and Angelo Mathews attempted a scoop off Sammy and watched his stumps quiver.

And with Jayawardene perishing with a reverse-hit off Sunil Narine (three for nine), it soon proved to be a weekend of grief in the Emerald Isle though Nuwan Kulasekara’s assault on Rampaul (16th over, 22 runs) briefly nudged in hopes of a miracle.

Samuels’s superb knock

Earlier, Marlon Samuels (78, 56b, 3x4, 6x6) waged a lone-battle while the Sri Lankan spinners buzzed around and nearly ruined Sammy’s dreams of batting big on winning the toss. Mathews’ wicket-maiden was the perfect first over that Jayawardene would have hoped for and while Johnson Charles left, Chris Gayle remained ponderous at the crease against a niggardly attack.

After surviving two leg-before-wicket appeals, Gayle fell for the third one with Simon Taufel, officiating in his last international match, nodding in approval.

The stands went into a delirium and off-spinner Ajantha Mendis (four for 12) haunted the West Indies again after his earlier 4-1-12-2 yield in the Super Eights game at Pallekele. Birthday-boy Bravo walked into a stage that whispered ‘suffocation’ and after 10 overs, the West Indies was at an abominable 32 for two.

But thankfully for Sammy’s men, Samuels reclaimed his aggressive self.

Samuels shared a 59-run third-wicket partnership off 49 balls for the third-wicket with Bravo.

The defensive tide ended in the 12th over with Bravo hoisting Akila Dananjaya for six and Samuels, who was dropped on 20 by Kulasekara, also getting into the mood for mayhem.

During that phase, though Bravo, Kieron Pollard and Andre Russell left in a clutch, Samuels took a fancy for Lasith Malinga.

The speedster was thrashed for 21 runs during the 13th over and when he returned for another spell, the West Indies’ top-scorer hammered the yorker-specialist and one particular six made everyone at the ground crane their necks and gape at the ball sailing high and far.

Samuels eventually fell but with Sammy too lending his weight in the slog, the men from the Caribbean had a respectable score.

It may have been a far-cry from the dizzying 205 against Australia but was still adequate enough to unleash the ‘Gangnam Style’ dance all through the night.

  • Marlon Samuels scored 78 to be the top-scorer

  • Sunil Narine scalped three wickets

  • It was Sri Lanka’s fourth failure in an ICC WC final

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