It was a celebration seldom seen by the cricketing world, as the West Indies, heralded by many as pre-tournament favourites, went into party mode in Colombo, after clinching the World Twenty20 title after a rare collapse by Sri Lanka in their own den. The fact that West Indies came back from a dire situation – they were only 32/2 in 10 overs, was totally due to Marlon Samuels, who has been a revelation this year. Let us look back at the records and highlights of the 15 day tournament gone by:
– Both individual records – that of the best bowling figures, and the highest individual score in T20 internationals – were broken during the tournament. In the very first match of the tournament, Sri Lanka’s no-longer-a-mystery bowler, Ajantha Mendis, wrought havoc to bag a sensational 6/8 against a hapless Zimbabwe. Incidentally, he broke his own record of last year, when he had taken 6/16 against Australia. Mendis finished the tournament with 15 wickets – a tournament record – breaking Dirk Nannes’ tally of 14 for Australia in 2010. On the batting front, Brendon McCullum, who is the leading run getter in this format, scored a bludgeoning 123 off 58 balls against Bangladesh, in the process notching up the highest individual score in T20 internationals, obliterating the record of 117 jointly held by Chris Gayle and Richard Levi. McCullum also became the first man to make two T20I hundreds, having previously made 116* against Australia in 2009-1o.
– Meanwhile, defending champions England hit a new low, as they were bowled out for their lowest ever total – 80, against India. In the same match, India notched up their highest ever victory margin in T20I’s, winning by 94 runs. Also, the super over took place for the first time in the World T20, with two matches – New Zealand v West Indies and Sri Lanka v New Zealand, going into the decider.
– Coming back to individual performances, Samuels’ 78 became the highest individual score in a final, breaking Gautam Gambhir’s record of 75 in 2007. Mendis achieved the best bowling figures in a final, as he took 4/12, breaking the record of Irfan Pathan (3/16), also in 2007. Shane Watson, who was named the player of the tournament, won four man-of-the-match prizes, taking his overall international tally to 8 – a new record, breaking Shahid Afridi’s total of 7.
– West Indies, who won the title, failed to win a match in the group stage – losing to Australia on the D/L method (after making 191) while their match against Ireland was a no-result. In an interesting coincidence, In 2010, the ultimate winners England had also made through the group stage after a D/L loss ( to West Indies) and a no-result. Amazingly, England had also made 191 in their loss, and their no-result was also against Ireland!
– The two most imposing shows of bludgeoning batting took place at the Premadasa – while Australian openers David Warner and Watson pummeled Indian bowlers into submission courtesy their 133 run stand (chasing 140) in a Super 8 game, the Aussies themselves got a dose of mayhem, when West Indies slammed 205/4 – the highest total in this edition – in the semifinals to thrash Australia by 74 runs.
– The coup of the tournament came in the very first Super 8 match. Pakistan were staring at defeat, having been reduced to 76/7 in the 15th over in pursuit of 133 against South Africa. Umar Gul, at No.9, then proceeded to club a 17-ball 32 with 3 sixes before perishing at 125/8. It was too late for South Africa, as Pakistan snatched a surprising 2 wicket victory.
– Much was said about the non-Test playing nations, and the fact that their presence led to mismatches. However Afghanistan would have actually beaten India in their opening clash if not for some abysmal fielding. India’s 159 would have been much lesser had the Afghans held on to their catches, and in spite of a valiant effort, the spirited Affiliate nation went down by 23 runs. Their fast bowler Shapoor Zadran garnered attention with some quality bowling.
– Finally, it was proved that indeed you need some luck to win at Twenty20. West Indies, who were crowned champions, came within a run of being knocked out in the Super 8 stage – after their game against New Zealand went into the super over. Defending 138, Sunil Narine took 2/5 in his last two overs to deny New Zealand a win. In the tie-breaker, Chris Gayle and Samuels ensured a last-gasp semi final entry for their team. New Zealand were the unluckiest of teams, as they also lost their first Super 8 match against Sri Lanka through the super over, despite making a healthy 174.
So, even though the format remains fickle, the triumph of the West Indies was indeed a refreshing thing to see. And this time, the future does seem to be optimistic for the ever-smiling Darren Sammy’s high-on-Gangnam Calypso boys.