West Indies celebrate after taking T20 title in grand style
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka:
Marlon Samuels held on to the ICC World T20 trophy and didn't want to let it go.
Winning the trophy "means everything to us", he said after the Windies beat Sri Lanka by 36 runs to take the title in grand style yesterday.
Samuels led a rally late in the innings as the West Indies made a competitive 137-6 off their 20 overs. He blasted a career-best 78 off 56 balls with six sixes after the innings was deep in trouble at 32-2 off 10 overs.
The next highest score was captain Darren Sammy, with a cameo 26 not out off 15 balls in the final stages of the innings.
The 31-year-old Samuels then returned with the ball to take a wicket as the home team was bowled out for 101 before a stunned capacity crowd at the R Premadasa Stadium.
"This is a great achievement for past cricketers and for these cricketers who have bonded together to form a strong unit. The entire Caribbean embraces it. The sky is the limit and words can't really explain it. It means the world to us," he said as he held the trophy and his Man-of-the-Match award to his chest.
"Coming into the tournament, we were labelled as favourites. We put that to the side. We can be the favourites, but at the end of the day, we have to come up trumps with our best cricket," he said.
This is the fourth major international title for the West Indies.
They won the inaugural Cricket World Cup in 1975 and repeated in 1979, under the captaincy of Clive Lloyd. They also beat England at the Oval in 2004 to win the ICC Champions Trophy with Brian Lara at the helm.
"In the past, we had some near misses, but nevertheless, God's willing, we came out on top this time around. Tonight is something to be proud about. We are here today to say that West Indies cricket is back. This is T20, but it can bring a lot of fans to watch us around the world, people who still love West Indies cricket.
"We will celebrate as long as possible and enjoy the moment. This a moment to cherish and cherish forever, but we have a lot of cricket to look forward to before the year is finished."
During his breathtaking innings, Samuels took a liking to pacer Lasith Malinga, who is rated as one of the best T20 bowlers in the world. Exactly half his runs came off Malinga, who he hit for five sixes off just 11 balls faced.
"I only faced him one time - the first game against Mumbai (in India Premier League) - and he got me out, bowled," Samuels said. "I was very upset. This was my time today to get back at him.
"Having batted most of the overs on the pitch, my advice was that it was still a challenging total. The pitch was a tough one. As long as we could get some quick wickets and put the pressure on Sri Lanka, it would work in our favour," Samuels added.
With the West Indies cricket team emerging victorious over Sri Lanka in the T20 World Cup finals, cricket lovers in Jamaica seem to be in a good mood. Yesterday, The Gleaner took to the street to ask cricket lovers: Do you think West Indies cricket is on the rebound? These were some of the responses.
In a sense, mi think it a come back because mi a see more commitment from the players dem. Is a good thing happening fi the region. At least we able fi win some sort of cricket.
Yah, man! Of course, we a come back. A from morning me a ask how the cricket a go because me cyaan get fi see it. Dem need fi give we the rights to broadcast it on local TV.
Everybody seh we gwaan good. It sound like we a come back.
I don't think so; it's just luck. The dedication is not there. We have some talent, but not enough for us to become leaders again.
It a comeback. Gayle is a good batsman, but Sammy is a better captain.
A the best performance wi see in over a decade now. It a come back, man. We have some good talents, but sometimes we make some bad selections.
Yes, because from we beat Australia, it shows that we have a chance fi come back. The Test match different, but if them hold on the same way, we will come back.