Windies back in the big league
SKIPPER Darren Sammy believes his West Indies team will again become a powerful force in international cricket after their remarkable 36-run victory over Sri Lanka in the World Twenty20 final.
West Indies bowled out the highly favoured Sri Lanka for just 101 in front of a stunned crowd of 35000 after Marlon Samuels's blazing 78 off 56 balls had lifted Sammy's team to 137/6.
"We're not trying just to compete. We believe we can win against good opposition," Sammy said.
"We showed signs of that in the last year or so, but we were not winning.
"Hopefully, this can be the start of something good for the West Indies team and the people."
Samuels said the team's hard work only paid off after Sri Lanka had twice beaten them - once in a warm-up match and then in the Super Eights.
"It is hard to explain what this victory means to me and my team. The West Indies are finally going well again, we have a great future," Samuels said.
Sammy's team peaked at the right time, capitalising on South Africa, Pakistan, Australia and England faltering late in the tournament. The West Indies didn't get an ideal start, scraping through the preliminary group stage only because of a better net run-rate than Ireland.
But once the Windies arrived in Pallekele from rainy Colombo, they shifted gears.
Sammy's team beat defending champions England and won a crucial last match against New Zealand in a Super Over in the Super Eights, which was enough to secure a spot in the semifinals.
By that time, all the big hitters - Chris Gayle, Samuels, Kieron Pollard and Dwayne Bravo - had accumulated enough runs to be a threat to any team in the tournament.
Gayle's memorable, unbeaten 75 off 41 balls against Australia in the semifinal saw the West Indies racking up the tournament's highest score of 205/4 before bowling Australia out for 131.
Sri Lanka had all the necessary tools to counter the West Indies in the finale.
Mahela Jayawardene probably imagined the trophy was secure once West Indies staggered to 32/2 by the 10th over and it was difficult to hit the ball. But Samuels' ruthless batting against Lasith Malinga, who was hammered for five sixes, was complemented by some superb ground fielding when Sri Lanka batted.
Although Jayawardene was twice dropped, the two run-outs of Jeevan Mendis and Thisara Perera and two wickets by Sammy never allowed Sri Lanka to gain momemtum.
Sammy dedicated the victory to the people of the Caribbean, who had waited since the glory days of the Clive Lloyd and Viv Richards to taste victory in a major tournament.