West Indies had never batted first in this tournament going into the final. Neither had skipper Darren Sammy lost a toss for a record nine matches before this. And what a match to get both right again!
But since this was the World Twenty20 final, it couldn’t have been that easy. Partly due to Joe Root, and partly due to their own fault, West Indies found themselves chasing an equation more tough than in the semi-final. But the chase masters weren’t done yet.
Kept in the game by Marlon Samuels, West Indies found a new hero in Carlos Brathwaite. Power-hitting never seemed so brutal as he delivered four sixes in a row. The punches delivered were so hard that Ben Stokes and England, and for that matter the packed Eden Gardens, were left gasping.
Big guns flop
This was always supposed to be a match of the big hitters. Jason Roy, Alex Hales, Chris Gayle and Lendl Simmons were expected to lead the charge. But three overs into the second innings, their scores read 0, 1, 4 and 0.
Before Joe Root pulled a rabbit out of the hat with the ball, he showed how to go about batting on this pitch --- focusing on the boundaries more than playing to the galleries. As long as he played straight, Root looked unstoppable.
And that served England fine too up and till the moment Root went for a scoop. Had Root stayed on till the 20th over, England could have easily passed 180. Before him Buttler made an impact but fizzled out due to the lure of playing the big shot.
That could have been a cue for West Indies to modify their chasing style at the start. Since the bounce on this Eden Gardens pitch was not as true as Kotla or Wankhede, there was a need to be cautious at the start and keep wickets in the end.
Falling just short
Had they been set a target of 193, West Indies would have had no other way but to slam from the first over. But a tricky target like 156 needed aggression mixed with caution. However, being the entertainers they are, West Indies stayed true to their instinct.
It nearly cost them the title. History said Gayle was primed for a big one after his failure in Mumbai. He again started on a promising note, a flash over point off Root. That should have served him a warning but Gayle dropped all caution to go after Root again. Gayle fell after scoring four in what surely is his last World Twenty20 final. Simmons was trapped leg before. Andre Russell and even Dwayne Bravo fell to leave West Indies in a soup.
Their only way out seemed Marlon Samuels, who was given a life after Buttler made a mess of a tough catch. Samuels had got a bottom edge off Stokes, and TV replays showed the keeper had scooped it up on the bounce.
The mood was tense. Even the crowd went quiet. Sammy pushed back into a seat in the dugout, perhaps in the hope to bring some luck to his team after the 11th over. West Indies needed 94 runs then. From there, West Indies clawed their way back, courtesy the accelerating Samuels.
Their saviour back in the 2012 final in Colombo, Samuels kept churning runs under the most pressing situation. Still, it looked a bridge too far, only for Brathwaite to seal it with four clean blows.