THIS ONE IS MINE: A jovial West Indies captain
Darren Sammy (L) keeps the World Twenty20 trophy away from his smiling
English counterpart Eoin Morgan at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata
yesterday, but today they will get down to the serious business of
winning the trophy when the final gets underway here.
A new-look England and a resurgent West Indies will battle to become
the first two-time winners of cricket's World Twenty20 in a big-hitting
showdown Sunday that promises to rain sixes.
A year after exiting the 50-over World Cup with egg on their faces,
Eoin Morgan's England will hope to complete their redemption by
outmuscling a West Indies team who are themselves a team reborn.
Inspired by the ultimate game changer Chris Gayle, the men from the
Caribbean are hoping to go home with the shortest format's biggest prize
on the same day that their women are also gunning for glory at
Kolkata's iconic Eden Gardens stadium against Australia in an earlier
Gayle will be looking to become the first player to crack a century
of sixes in T20 internationals, having already smashed a record 98 -- 11
of them in the current tournament.
England meanwhile will hope to add to their tally of 34 sixes in the
tournament, more than any other team, underlining their transformation
into the game's great entertainers.
Jason Roy, one of the stars of the new-look England, promised they
would come at their opponents "with all guns blazing" and continue in
the same aggressive vein that has confounded their old conservative
"It's going to be an incredible experience but we are going to play
our natural way and the brand of cricket we have have been playing for
the last year or so," said Roy after smacking 78 in just 44 balls in the
first semifinal against New Zealand.
England won the 2010 World T20 but they failed to build on that
triumph and were widely ridiculed for their demise in 2015 when they
lost to every major side in the World Cup.
That embarrassment came a year after their meek exit from the last
World T20 in Bangladesh which included a defeat to the Netherlands.
But pundits have been showering praise on Morgan's team in India,
with former skipper Nasser Hussain among those won over by "a side who
don't fear anyone".
The criticism heaped on England would have sounded familiar to a West
Indies team which has had to put up with brickbats from stars of their
heyday in the 1980s when the likes of Viv Richards and Malcolm Marshall
ruled the world.
But while the Test team is a shadow of its former self, the West
Indies' limited overs side has been a formidable unit for some time and
won the 2012 World T20 in Sri Lanka.
Gayle, ridiculed for a clumsy bid to chat up an Australian TV reporter in January, has long been their dangerman.
But the 36-year-old, who could be playing in his last major
tournament, has failed to notch up a decent score in his last two
innings after earlier setting the competition alight with an unbeaten
century against England.
Unsung sluggers such as Lendl Simmons, Jonathan Charles and Andre
Russell have instead come to the party, with India's spin bowlers the
latest to be carted around the park in Thursday's second semi-final.
"England will certainly be aware that it is certainly not a one-man show in this team," Simmons said afterwards.
Following their early setback against the Windies, England gave
themselves a major confidence injection by chasing down a record 230
target against South Africa in their next game.
And after sometimes nervy wins against Afghanistan and holders Sri
Lanka, England halted the previously unbeaten New Zealand juggernaut in
its tracks in New Delhi.
Joe Root, who has scored 195 runs in five matches, has been the pick of their batsmen.
But England have also relied heavily on all-rounder Ben Stokes whose
near-perfect death bowling has taken them over the line in crunch ties.
The West Indies have also shown their metal at the death, with
Simmons and Russell completing their chase in Mumbai with two balls to
spare, reaching their total with a six.