What an absolutely magnificent game of cricket! A fitting end to an exciting tournament with Carlos Brathwaite smashing 4 consecutive sixes off Ben Stokes in the final over to send the West Indies into ecstacy in a packed Eden Gardens.
Anyone who was there last night witnessed one of the great cricket matches – a glorious tribute to the evolution of T20 cricket from a hit-and-miss version of the Gentleman’s game to one that takes skill and temperament to master.
Neither side deserved to lose in a game of such fine margins. England put on a brilliant show of their ability and character while the West Indies shone through with their brute force complementing their fearless brand of cricket.
Let’s take a look at 5 things we learnt from last night’s World T20 final.
1. West Indies are anything but a one-man show
If you thought the West Indies were heavily reliant on the big-hitting Chris Gayle to carry their batting, you have been made to eat your words. Lendl Simmons and Johnson Charles stepped up in a tough run chase against India at the Wankhede with Andre Russell pummeling the Indian bowlers at the death, while Marlon Samuels took control in the final with an unbeaten 85.
And big money IPL recruit Carlos Brathwaite wasn’t going to miss out either – steering the team to victory against South Africa in the Super 10 before writing history in the final over of a World Cup final last night. A team of match winners all over!
2. Samuels – the man for the big occasion
The only man to score two fifties in World T20 finals, Marlon Samuels once again proved his mettle with an unbeaten 85 at Eden Gardens off 66 balls. West Indies lost three top order batsmen in the first three overs, but Samuels kept his nerve and built a handy partnership with Dwayne Bravo before unleashing at the death with a range of shots, particularly those brutal sixes down the ground.
Talk about a way to answer critics with the bat!
3. Brathwaite is going to be one special player in the future
Carlos Brathwaite raised many an eyebrow when he was purchased by the Delhi Daredevils for 4.2 million dollars in the IPL auction in February, but you can see what the hype was all about!
The big-hitting allrounder hit Ben Strokes for 4 sixes in the final over to snatch the game away from England in a thrilling climax. Back in the day, a West Indies side would have a Curtly Ambrose or a Mervin Dillon strolling out at No. 9, but matches like these are never over when you have a power hitter like Brathwaite lurking in the lower order. And this, despite Ben Stokes barely doing much wrong with his yorker deliveries!
4. England have the all-round ability and character to shine in white ball cricket
Despite the West Indies’ heroics, the 2016 World T20 will be remembered for the English changing their approach to the shortest format of the game. England played an attacking brand of cricket with the likes of Jason Roy and Alex Hales at the top, and Buttler and Stokes coming in the middle order and of course with Joe Root around, England have an absolute superstar in their ranks.
They have an excellent fielding unit and a bowling unit which has diversity and a range of options, and particularly impressive was the death bowling from Jordan and Stokes, up until Brathwaite went berserk in the last over of the final.
But more importantly, Eoin Morgan’s side displayed great character to triumph against South Africa, get themselves out of a hole against Afghanistan at 70 for 7, and likewise, in the final when they were reeling at 23 for 3.
5. T20 cricket is becoming more about power-hitting
The final, much like the rest of the tournament, turned out to be a simple lesson – six hitting ability will win you matches in T20 cricket. It wasn’t surprising that England and West Indies were the two sides who hit the most number of sixes in the tournament.
And while England have the likes of Roy, Hales, Buttler and Stokes, West Indies have their fair share of big hitters in Gayle, Charles, Russell, Sammy and Brathwaite and it wasn’t surprising that brute force won them the final, thanks to the blazing Carlos Brathwaite. Required run rates go out of the picture when you bowl to these batsmen, you either send them back or they will smash you away.