Pakistan v West Indies, April 1, 2014

West Indies bring back their fear factor

The ultimate entertainers, West Indies now have the batting power to match the threat their fast bowlers brought in the 1980s

Play 01:28
It's important to give Bangladeshi crowds their money's worth - Bravo

West Indies may have a formula for T20, or they may just let it flow through them. Modern players often talk about going out on the field and expressing themselves but it appears to be only the West Indies team that truly do so, at least in this format of the game.

Whether dancing to calypso, Korean pop or some local folk number, West Indies' style has proved just as catchy as it was two years ago. The energy levels as they celebrated a sensational torpedoing of Pakistan were a little down on the party-hard reaction to beating Australia a few days ago, with just a few perfunctory giddy-ups for the cameras, but West Indies emanate conviction that their method is as sound as their arms are strong. With or without all the carry on, they are the World T20 entertainers.

Darren Sammy has become as powerful a symbol of this as Chris Gayle and Marlon Samuels, stars of their triumphant 2012 World T20. Tony Cozier has written about his resurgence in the finisher's role - innings in Auckland and Antigua, Barbados and Mirpur over the last few months underscore the point with all the emphasis of one of Sammy's flat sixes - and here the captain gave another tingling display of his dead-eye death batting.

As Saeed Ajmal, the premier spinner in this format, was crunched back down the ground in the 19th over, Sammy celebrated banishing the ball from his presence by pumping his fist back and forth, as if ramming home the metaphorical advantage. Ajmal had already gone the distance twice before, at the hands of Dwayne Bravo, who also belaboured Umar Gul - the second-most successful T20 bowler around - for consecutive sixes. Bravo was run out at the start of the final over but Sammy drove remorselessly on, thumping and jiving.

Asked previously about West Indies preference for dots over dash, sixes over singles, Sammy said it was just a natural inclination as to how to play the game. Suresh Raina belittled the approach, to which Sammy responded: "If he thinks we are only six-hitters, then stop us from hitting sixes." India managed it, convincingly; Pakistan did not. Of West Indies' 166 for 6, 51 came in singles, twos and a three; 106 flowed in boundaries.

"In those situations, the best of them all go for runs," Bravo said of the disdain with which Ajmal and Gul were treated. "We had nothing to lose, we were under pressure. So I said to Sammy, as long as we stay still, don't worry about picking Ajmal or trying to rotate, just stay still, keep our eyes on the ball, we're powerful enough if we get close to the ball to hit it over the ropes. Our aim was to get at least 135 to 140 with the start we got but the self-belief we have, the form and the power we have, the momentum went with us, we finished positive and got to 160."

The power of West Indies' T20 batting - missing Kieron Pollard, too - has replaced the fear factor of their fast bowling in Tests 30 years ago. They use it to bludgeon opponents, intimidate them, shrugging off the chance to run ones and twos in favour of full-frontal assault. As with Samuels' tinderbox innings in the final of the last World T20, this match reinforced the sense that they are rarely ever out of a game.

From 84 for 5 at the end of the 15th over, Bravo and Sammy ran amok for another 82 runs from 30 balls. Perhaps the only way they could get better (other than jogging just a couple more singles) would be to implement a pre-War Test trick and reverse the batting order, somehow convincing Sammy to play each five-over block as if it were the last five overs - with the fall back of Gayle, Samuels and the rest to come in if he failed. Bradman would surely approve.

"This is the first game that we lost wickets in the first six overs, so we were trying to consolidate but at the same time whenever we got a boundary we keep losing a wicket again," Bravo said. "So in the middle overs, it calmed down. We've proved ourselves, in Twenty20 cricket we know how the game plays, if you take the game right down to the end anything is possible, as long as we don't give up and keep faith and have that self-belief that if we bat 20 overs we're going to get a decent total.

"But we have to bat 20 overs, so at no point can we let what happens in the middle overs get the better of us, that comes with experience and self-belief. We still had Andre Russell and Sunil Narine to bat. It's good we did not panic at 84 for 5 and take the game all the way down to the end. We showed in the Australia game what the difference can make as long as we have clean hitters at the wicket, so that's our aim, that's our strong point and we use it to the best of our ability."

Bravo, who is enjoying a purple patch in West Indies maroon, spoke of the team's passion and enjoyment for the game, something else that Twenty20 has helped to resurrect in the Caribbean. "All West Indians are like that, we just want to entertain our fans, most of all the people of Bangladesh come out every game and support the tournament so it's important that we give them their money's worth," he said. If West Indies' manage to carry off the title again, it will be in the manner of all great entertainers: leaving us wanting more.

Alan Gardner is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Mohamed on April 2, 2014, 18:29 GMT

    As a Lankan, I am glad that our team has once more proved their worth be amongst the top four to reach the final showdown. T20 format is certainly different to other formats. Looking at the wt20 series the sadder part of games witnessed thus far are that most have been clearly one sided given the nature of the game or weather conditions, where most teams were not being able to read and adapt to the conditions. Pakistan was no exception, but apart from Shahzard who got a peach of a delivery the rest had no intent playing into the hands of WI in haste. The Windies are loaded with ammunition to fire again, but the Lankan artillery too can counter fire while Malinga magic does work on his day. Cant wait to watch the Windies again for they are great entertainers. With WI having five smashers SL must contain, if not remove them early. Looking forward to the game, whilst hoping yesterday was Gayle's last gangam dance for the season. If he does, let him keep dancing even after the final.

  • current on April 2, 2014, 14:42 GMT

    These are the new West Indian 'quicks'. They scare opponents not with their bounce but with their pulls, not with their pace, but with the swing of their bat.

  • Donna on April 2, 2014, 13:58 GMT

    Darren Sammy only responds to disparaging remarks from other teams. Why are some people so deaf and blind to the faults of their own players? Teams need to be careful of what they say because we have the right to respond in like manner. Windies players play cricket with bat and ball on the field. That is our way. It has always been our way with very few exceptions. Now come on! Just play ball and may the best team win!

  • RAJIV on April 2, 2014, 12:26 GMT

    I think it's all getting to their heads now and this will again lead to their downfall. WI batting is still a problem. You can never tell which team will show up on any given day. Only one batsman can say that he is in form and that's Sammy. Bravo has played 2 good innings and Simmons has made small contributions. But the rest even Gayle has been no where close to their best. I'm glad that Bravo finally realized that key to hitting boundaries under pressure was keeping still and eyes on the ball rather than just swing wildly but I doubt the rest has learnt that. After watching WI cricket for over 2 decades now and seeing the depths they have sunk I might have become a little jaded but I'm still realistic about WI cricket.

  • Dummy4 on April 2, 2014, 11:48 GMT

    All that hype will come to an end tomorrow when the ruthless Lankans take on WI. We will then clinch the trophy which we missed grabbing twice by beating the South-Africans on Sunday. Btw, I have a Crystal-Ball.

  • Dummy4 on April 2, 2014, 11:08 GMT

    Brilliant performance WI,thought the pakistanis had you'll stiifled but you'll broke free-but watch out for the Lankan Lions we will come hard at you!

  • am on April 2, 2014, 10:58 GMT

    You can talk all you want.. but at the end of the day .. what happens on cricket field is what matters.. Raina clearly pointed out.. WI batsmen are six hitters and they hardly take singles and in the match between India Vs West indies RAINA was absolutely right.. WI team need to rotate strike and keep the scoreboard moving. Yes windies India will continue to stop you from hitting sixes. Your harsh talk might work with other teams but with Indian team its different. And Sammy after preaching Australia is doing the same mistake by talking rubbish.. While I am big fan of WI team especially Gayle.. Dwayne Bravo , Narine , Badree are all talented cricketers.. Sammy on the other hand is very arrogant... he needs to learn lot of humility from others.. Sammy is the only negative point in WI team ..otherwise WI team is fantastic.. IT is because of Gayle that WI team glows .. It is Gayle who brought that charisma to this WI team... Gayle is the driving force.. WI vs Sri lanka..will be interestin

  • Krishnaswami on April 2, 2014, 10:25 GMT

    It is happy to note the exuberance of the WI team. In fielding also, they did not give anything away easily. Watching Gayle diving left and right is something great. Resurgence of WI is needed for cricket. I would love to see that big bat swing, electric fielding and that fast bowling in test matches. Hope they come up in test cricket as well.

  • Dummy4 on April 2, 2014, 9:13 GMT

    For an England supporter, it's great to watch West Indies play cricket, with a free spirit and a smile on the face. Entertainment guaranteed, and barely a whiff of a master plan that gets you nowhere. Darren Sammy has been a revelation in this tournament. And let's remember they are doing this without two key players: Roach and Pollard. Good luck with the rest of the tournament, guys. Only one thing missing so far: would love to see Sammy and Pollard take on Steyn in the death overs!

  • Mihil on April 2, 2014, 8:45 GMT

    The only reason that i like about PAK loosing to WI is so that we can defeat them our selves and avenge 2012..