Brathwaite sixes takes WI to thrilling title

April 4: Carlos Brathwaite let loose sledge-hammer blows, cracking four back-to-back huge sixes to catapult West Indies to their second World Twenty20 title with a stunning four-wicket victory over England in a nerve-wracking final at the Eden Gardens here on Sunday.

Set an asking rate of 7.8, West Indies raced to 161/6 with two balls to spare in reply to England’s 155/9 before a capacity crowd at the iconic venue that rooted for the Caribbeans through the day.

It proved to be a golden day for the Caribbean cricket — otherwise dogged by payment problems and tiffs between the players and the cricket board — as their men scripted history to become the only side to lift the Wt20 crown twice, hours after the women emerged champion with an eight-wicket win over formidable Australia.

Seemingly looking in tatters at 11/3 inside the third over, the Caribbeans recovered with a 75-run fourth wicket partnership between man of the match Marlon Samuels (85 not out; 66b, 9×4 and 2×6) and Dwayne Bravo (25).

Samuels then teamed up with Brathwaite (34 not out, 10 balls, 1×4, 4×6) to author an unfinished 54-run partnership that saw the team to victory, less than two months after the West Indies boys won the under-19 World Cup in Bangladesh, to make 2016 a memorable year in the annals of Caribbean cricket.

Needing 19 from the last over bowled by Ben Stokes, Brathwaite disdainfully despatched the first ball over the deep backward square leg fence, the second flew over long on and the third landed into the gallery over long off.

With the hapless Stokes seeming completely clueless, the fourth delivery found its address in the deep mid wicket stands, as the bowler went down on his knees in shock while the Caribbean players rushed into the ground, hugged Brathwaite and man of the match Samuels and began an impromptu Calypso jig.

Soon, the victorious women players also joined in, and there followed a grand mid pitch celebrations of free-flowing song and dance, and finally a lap of honour to a tumultuous ovation from the spectators, who had their money’s worth.

This is the second World T20 title for West Indies, who had previously won it in 2012.

Set an asking rate of 7.8, West Indies had a nightmarish start.

Their top order fell to poor shot selection, and Samuels had a close shave after replays adjudged him not out in what seconds ago seemed a caught behind dismissal in the naked eye.

However, the umpires declared after the replay that the ball had bounced before Jos Buttler ‘gloved it’ and Samuels, who also had the impression that he was out, returned to play a memorable knock.

On the other hand, Bravo was dropped in the deep by Sam Billings when he was on 15.

Earlier, Joe Root followed up a fine half-century by claiming the wickets of Johnson Charles (1) and the burly Chris Gayle.

David Willey then saw the back of semi final hero Lendl Simmons in the next over with one that pitched in line with the middle and leg and wrapped the pad. West Indies were 3/11 in only the third over, but then the recovery started.

The match began with England put into bat, and they stuttered at 23/3, before Joe Root (54 off 36 balls, 7×4) and Jos Buttler (36 off 22, 1×4, 3×6) resurrected the innings with a fourth wicket partnership of 61 runs.

For the Caribbeans, Carlos Brathwaite (3/23) and Dwayne Bravo (3/37) were the chief wicket-takers.

England were 67/3 at the halfway stage. Buttler then went after Benn, hitting two back-to-back sixes, but departed a little later in his attempt to hit pacer Brathwaite into the stands.

Bravo then triggered a collapse by getting rid of Stokes and Moeen Ali in the space of three balls, while Brathwaite sent back the dangerous Root in the first ball of the 15th over, reducing England to 111/7.

David Willey then played a cameo, scoring 21 of 14 balls which later helped England go past the 150-mark.

After he got out, England managed only 24 in the last three overs.

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