Sammy Invokes Spirit of David Against Goliath-like England

When the West Indies arrived in India, nobody billed them favourites.

Published: 03rd April 2016 02:30 PM  |   Last Updated: 03rd April 2016 08:38 PM   |  A+A-

When Eoin Morgan stepped on to the Eden Gardens outfield for the official unveiling of the trophy, almost every photographer followed him. While he exchanged a few words with Sky broadcasters, Darren Sammy arrived almost unnoticed and joined Morgan near the boundary. Morgan didn’t realise Sammy was around until he came closer. It summed up how the teams have arrived here. While England have grabbed headlines, the West Indies despite having defeated India, are still not fancied to lift the title.

power.jpgHalf-an-hour later, Sammy arrived for the pre-match media interaction. As he settled down, there were murmurs of ‘Morgan, Morgan’. Sammy smiled and maybe he didn’t even hear it, but when he spoke, there was plenty to listen to. He spoke about how this game is still, “Us against the world,” and how he wants “cricket to be the winner,” and how “this team has been unified by shenanigans” and  how insensitive of a journalist it was to call them “brainless” people. “Animals have brains, man! It’s fairly emotional. Gods don’t love the ugly. We’re very wonderful and beautiful men who are excited to play good cricket.”

When the West Indies arrived in India, nobody billed them favourites and even Sourav Ganguly on stage with Dwayne Bravo in Kolkata a fortnight back didn’t pick them to make it to the final four. Unlike other teams, most of their players have plenty of IPL experience. They are regulars in T20 leagues around the globe including the Pakistan Super League. Somehow, pundits didn’t give them a chance.

“I think the pre-tournament shenanigans brought the team closer. It feels like us against everybody else. We came here after winning the tournament in 2012. In 2014, a hailstorm knocked us out and in 2009, we made it to the semis. This is a format we have always been consistent in but every year nobody gives us a chance,” Sammy said.

To begin with, they are not entering the final with thoughts of ‘what if’. They are already foreseeing how celebrations would be on Sunday night and how big a night it would be for those unlikely to be around for another major event. “That a few of us are older and this could be the last for us... it brought us together. I can foresee what we will do later but we have a game to play first. We’ve beaten England but they are a good team. That’s why they are in the final. I want cricket to be the winner but considering cricket has taken lot of praise, I want West Indies to do well,” he added.

For West Indies, victory is not beyond them. Even England know by now they are peaking at the right time and everything is coming together. The only trouble for them, as pointed out by Bravo in a team meeting, is: “The only team that can beat us is ourselves. Only we can defeat us.”

A scribe asked why they are still considered ‘David’ in the final against ‘Goliath’ England and Sammy said they like being underdogs. “We are always David and David is a winner. Look, even now people don’t give us a chance. Goliath was big and strong but David defeated him with a sling and one shot. So we always see ourselves as David and we will play like David, be smart about it, believe in ourselves and do all that we can to lift up the cup.”

Dwayne Bravo, or DJ Bravo, has already given his team the tag “champions.” It’s about living up to it. Bring on England!

England’s route to the final

vs West Indies

Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai, March 16

After being put in to bat, England put up a sizeable 182 for 6 in 20 overs. However, Chris Gayle’s unbeaten 100 off only 48 balls helped West Indies overhaul the target in just 18.1 overs with six wickets to spare.

vs South Africa

Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai, March 18

South Africa made a mockery of England’s bowling, putting up 230. Jason Roy helped England get off to a flier. Then it was the Joe Root show as the 25-year-old hit a 44-ball 83 that helped England complete the highest successful chase in World T20s with two balls to go.

vs Afghanistan

Feroz Shah Kotla, New Delhi, March 23

Afghanistan spinners gave England a torrid time and at one point the Three Lions were 85 for 7. They finally ended up with 142 for 7, thanks to Moeen Ali’s unbeaten 33-ball 41. Afghanistan eventually fell short by 15 runs.

vs Sri Lanka

Feroz Shah Kotla, New Delhi, March 26

The match was a virtual knock-out for a spot in the semis. Jos Buttler’s unbeaten 66 off 37 helped England reach 171 for 4. Angelo Mathews struck a valiant 73 but Sri Lanka fell agonisingly short.


vs New Zealand

Feroz Shah Kotla, New Delhi, March 30

New Zealand got off to good start but were ultimately restricted to 153 for 8 after some good death bowling by the English bowlers. Jason Roy’s 44-ball 78 helped England chase down 154 in quick time to book a spot in the finals.

West Indies vs England

Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai, March 16

After being put in to bat, England put up a sizeable 182 for 6 in 20 overs. However, Chris Gayle’s unbeaten 100 off only 48 balls helped West Indies overhaul the target in just 18.1 overs with six wickets to spare.

vs Sri Lanka

M Chinnaswamy stadium, Bengaluru, March 20

West Indies won the toss and opted to bowl first, restricting Sri Lanka to just 122 for 9. The top order responded by scoring 127 for 3 in only 18.2 overs.

vs South Africa

Vidarbha Cricket Association stadium, Nagpur, March 25

For the third game in a row, Darren Sammy won the toss and elected to field. On a tricky pitch, South Africa made 122 for 8. After some initia trouble, West Indies scaled the target in the final over, their batting depth coming to the fore.

vs Afghanistan

Vidarbha Cricket Association stadium, Nagpur, March 27

Asked to bat first, Afghanistan posted 123 for 7 from 20 overs. West Indies looked in control but faltered in the face of some tight bowling to finish on 117 for 8.

Semifinal vs India

Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai, March 31

Powe.jpgOpting to chase yet again, WI bowlers were taken apart by Virat Kohli, who powered India to 192 for 2. West Indies lost two early wickets but Lendl Simmons took them into the final.

Key Men

Chris Gayle

His century in the Super 10s against the same opponents lit up the tournament, and West Indies have not looked back since. Failure against India will be motivation for him to finally end his poor record in knockout events.

Andre Russell

The all-rounder has been a vital component for the Caribbeans, and it was his six that sealed a thrilling contest against the hosts in the semis.

Jos Buttler

 Perhaps the only player who can be as dangerous as the bevy of big-hitters that adorn the West Indies line-up, wicketkeeper-batsman Buttler has had a decent tournament so far.

Joe Root

His style of play may be a stark contrast to the other big-hitter in his team, but Root has been the most important wicket for opponent.

West Indies

Strengths: Having a messianic presence like Chris Gayle at the top always helps but West Indies are learning to stop relying solely on him. While most of their batsmen have mastered the art of scoring 20 in 10 balls, they are pure muscle men, excelling in boundary hitting. None figure in the top 15 on the list of highest scorers. But three (Gayle, Lendl Simmons, Andre Fletcher) are in the top 10 for most runs scored through boundaries in an innings.

Weaknesses: And that is their greatest weakness as well. They suffer when the boundaries dry up, like against Afghanistan. Chasing 124, they looked like a team that had lost its compass in the high seas.

Opportunities: Some of their bowlers have quietly stacked up impressive numbers. Samuel Badree has the second best economy rate for those who have bowled 15 or more overs. His economy rate after 19 overs is 5.68. Suleiman Benn (also 19 overs) is third with 5.78.

po.jpgThreats: England have different weapons but the one at the top — Alex Hales and Jason Roy — is the most potent. Some of their starts have been ridiculous: 37 in 4.2 overs (WI), 48 in 2.2 (SA), 82 in 8.1 (NZ). If West Indies allow them to get off of to a start, they may kiss the title good bye.


Strengths: While Virat Kohli’s was a one-man mission doomed to fail, Joe Root has been supplemented by others. Kohli maybe the highest run-getter, but no other Indian is in the top 35. Root is fourth highest (195), Jason Roy fifth (183) and Jos Buttler sixth (155).

Weaknesses: While they have shown immense grit to come this far, spinners are a cause for concern. Adil Rashid has given away 137 in 15 overs at an economy rate of 9.13. Moeen Ali has conceded 131 in 14.

Opportunities: England’s dot-ball percentage, according to ESPNCricinfo, is 33.85% (West Indies have the highest at 45.44), but what that hides is the middle-order’s ability to change shades. Ben Stokes, Morgan and Buttler not only bunt and run, but also clear boundaries.

Threats: The team is liberated but too much freedom could prove fatal. T20 is about playing the percentages better. Going too hard too early could prove costly.

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