Colombo: It wasn’t perhaps the jamboree final that people expected considering the batting firepower on view, but at the end of 38.4 engaging overs it was West Indies who stood holding aloft the 2012 ICC World Twenty20 – their first major tournament since 2004 and only second since 1979. Sri Lanka – appearing in their fourth ICC tournament final in five years – appeared to have kept West Indies to an attainable target of 137 but proceeded to stumble under pressure and ended up 36 runs short to spark wild scenes of celebrations from Darren Sammy’s team and their supports on Sunday – including a collective reprise of the internet sensation Gangnam Style dance.
In an unexpected low-scoring final at the Premadasa there was just a solitary half-century – no other player on either side crossed 33 – and it proved to be an epic one. Marlon Samuels walked out without a run on the board earlier in the evening and injected 78 off 56 balls to give his bowling team-mates something to work with.
Defending 137, Sammy began the defense with Samuel Badree’s legbreaks, but it was pace that provided the early spark. Ravi Rampaul struck with his first ball, a peach that sent Tillakaratne Dilshan’s off stump cartwheeling. The old firm of Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara stitched together a 42-run partnership before the latter swept Badree to Kieron Pollard at deep midwicket, setting in motion a collapse that Sri Lankan fans will find hard to forget.
Sammy then bowled Angelo Mathews attempting while a reckless paddle shot, and the momentum was back with West Indies at 51 for 3. Moments later, Jayawardene reverse-pulled Sunil Narine to point and the jitters had truly set in. That was followed by a sharp piece of fielding from Dwayne Bravo to run out Jeevan Mendis and in 18 balls, West Indies had yanked out four wickets.
Clearly buoyed to a new level, West Indies rallied superbly. Denesh Ramdin took down the stumps with a direct hit to get Thisara Perera and Sammy had a second when Lahiru Thirimanne picked out long-on, leaving Sri Lanka to get 69 from 33 balls. Nuwan Kulasekera briefly dazzled with a counter-attacking 26, but when he was caught by Badree off Narine all hopes of a Sri Lankan victory were extinguished. Samuels capped a match-winning effort with the bat by dismissing Ajantha Mendis and Narine took the final wicket as West Indies erupted in eye-moistening jubilation.
Such scenes had been hard to envision after their batting display, which was a one-man effort with only Samuels crossing 25 in an innings that contained four single-digit dismissals. He and Sammy contributed 84 of the 105 runs that West Indies scored from their final ten overs, and ultimately those proved massive in the final result.
Sri Lanka completely bossed the Powerplay, conceding just 14 runs while getting rid of the dangerous Chris Gayle for 3 off 16 balls. Mathews started the innings with the wicket of Johnson Charles in a maiden over, setting the tone for a very sedate start from West Indies. Just two runs came off the first three overs, and there was just one four in the first 11 overs. Ajantha Mendis kept Gayle on a leash and won an lbw appeal in his opening over, leaving West Indies gasping for air after six overs.
Samuels began to play some shots in the ninth over against Mathews – who finished with figures of 4-1-11-1 – but it wasn’t until the 13th over that he really started to dominate. The bowler to suffer was Lasith Malinga, with Samuels collecting three sixes – over square leg, backward point and long-on – in a 21-run over. In four balls, Samuels jumped from 26 off 37 to 45 off 41.
Ajantha Mendis was quickly called back and delivered the wicket with his sixth ball, albeit with the help of Simon Taufel – standing in his final international match – who failed to see an inside edge when Bravo (19) played forward in the crease to a legcutter.
Samuels reached his fifty with a six off Jeevan Mendis, his strike-rate steadily improving, but Ajanth Mendis pulled West Indies back with the wickets of Pollard (2) and Andre Russell (0) in the 16th over. It was a masterly spell from Ajantha Mendis (4 for 12) but he lacked support from the other end – in particular, from Sri Lanka’s spearhead. Samuels’ tactic towards a wayward Malinga was simple: he just waited back in his crease and swatted two more sixes in a 19-run 17th over as West Indies surged past 100. Malinga had never conceded more than two sixes in a Twenty20 international before, but today gave five to Samuels alone.
Attempting a seventh six, however, Samuels found deep midwicket off the first ball of young Akila Dananjaya’s second spell. Sammy collectd an unbeaten 26 from 15 balls to get them past 130, and then it was over to the bowlers to script a landmark victory.
Brief score: West Indies 137 for 6 in 20 overs (Marlon Samuels 78, Darren Sammy 26*; Ajantha Mendis 4/12, Angelo Mathews 1/11) beat Sri Lanka 101 in 18.4 overs (Mahela Jayawardene 33; Sunil Narine 3/9, Sammy 2/6) by 36 runs