Colombo: West Indies skipper Darren Sammy on Sunday dedicated their World Twenty20 triumph to fans back home and said it is a step in the "right direction" and will usher in a new beginning for cricket in the Caribbean islands.
An inspired West Indies clinched the crown with a comfortable 36-run victory over Sri Lanka, winning a major global title after over three decades.
"Thank you to everyone who supported us. The tournament is for the fans. The Caribbean people wanted this. This moment we're going to live forever. We went through a lot in the last two years," Sammy said at the post-match presentation ceremony here.
"I can't say we are back but this is a step in the right direction," he added. The skipper said, from Jamaica to Guyana, the entire island nation will be celebrating tonight.
"The mission was to win the T20 World cup, the belief we left the Caribbean with has pulled us through. Today we were down and out but our never-say-die attitude came out."
"For the last two years we've shown the never-say-die attitude, but we haven't had the results. There's a special gentleman in the stand called Peter Matthews, he's supported us through rain and sun, he's the happiest man right now.
"The love we felt from the Sri Lankan people is tremendous and we want to thank them for that." Riding on Marlon Samuels' brilliant counter-attacking knock, the Windies lifted the trophy.
"He has been wonderful since he came back. I hope he keeps doing the good work in the coming days. The two years he missed, two years of international runs. He's scored so much since he's been back," Sammy said.
On big-hitting opener Chris Gayle, Sammy said, "Chris is always a plus. It is always good to have him in the team and see him enjoying the game with his pals. We have a lot of respect for him in the dressing room."
Batting first in front a 35,000 partisan crowd, Samuels held his nerve as he smashed a heroic 78 off 56 balls to steer West Indies to 137 for 6 and then the Caribbeans shot out the hosts for 101 in 18.4 overs.
The team soon broke into celebrations even as Gayle performed push-ups besides dancing wildy. Sri Lankan skipper Mahela Jayawardene said it was just a matter of a few overs in between which made all the difference in the end.
"I think the first ten overs were fantastic, they knew they had to go for it. A couple of mistakes on the field and three-four bad overs shifted the momentum. It was tough for us to get into it," Jayawardene said.
"The boys tried well but we're disappointed, we could not win in front of the crowd. A couple of overs they went after us, against our best bowlers. Marlon batted very well. I backed my No. 1 bowler to deliver but Marlon batted very well."
Talking about their chase, he said, "I can't say, the (rain) drops were falling (while batting), we lost momentum when (Tillakaratne) Dilshan fell.
"They bowled really well, we just needed to keep the pressure on which we didn't. We need to sit down, have a good chat, and move on."
Man of the Match Samuels said it was the result of a lot of hard work. "I have put in a lot of hard work. To Jamaica, to the West Indies. Can't explain how much it means to me. Thanks to Sri Lanka, I had some good food. They beat us twice, I tell Chris we can't lose thrice.
"The wicket was a bit slow, today was a different mindset, I decided to attack Malinga their best bowler and it paid off. We are working together as a unit," Samuels said.