After winning the Champions Trophy in 2004 and reaching the final in the next edition, West Indies failed to qualify for the tournament this year. They hit another low when they tumbled to a 63-run defeat against Afghanistan in St Lucia last month. Not many would have given them a chance to topple India, especially after they had suffered heavy losses in the second and third ODIs. Things seemed dire for the hosts in the fourth match as well, when they snoozed their way to 189 for 9. But the bowlers, led by captain Jason Holder, rallied the team to defend the score against No. 3-ranked India.
Holder, who used the word "proud" three times in the press conference, put down the win to resilience. "I have a lot of faith in the guys and have a lot of faith in myself," he said. "Once we stay together, we can learn as quickly as possible and see more results like this.
"Extremely proud. We have copped a lot of criticism over the last four months as a team. We haven't had the best results and people tend to write us off. The way the guys played today, I am extremely proud. Our backs were against the wall at the halfway stage and a lot of people didn't expect us to win the game. But it shows what we have in us and I am really, really proud of the guys."
Holder played a starring role, claiming a maiden five-wicket haul in his 62nd ODI, and was ably backed up by Kesrick Williams, who was playing his second ODI, and Alzarri Joseph, who had replaced Miguel Cummins. Williams, in particular, shackled MS Dhoni, conceding only 13 runs off 33 balls. The fast bowler ultimately had Dhoni holing out to long-on at the end of the 49th over, bringing the equation to 14 from the last over.
"The guys really, really supported me not only in the field but with suggestions," Holder said. "The bowlers really supported me the way they came out and bowled. It is easier when guys come out and do what is expected of them. I must give Kesrick Williams a lot of credit; I thought he did an outstanding job. He is only in his second game and showed a lot of maturity. Alzarri Joseph also makes the job a lot easier."
West Indies coach Stuart Law also delivered a glowing appraisal of Williams. "In the first game he played the other day, he got none for 60 , I thought to bowl five overs straight to the best finisher in the world, MS Dhoni, and to only go for the amount of runs he did was a great effort," Law said. "He's got some tricks, which are difficult, and he is our leading wicket-taker in T20 cricket this year and we drafted him into the [ODI] side to do a job for us through the middle and towards the end. He only got one wicket but it was pretty crucial one and only gone for 29 runs. That's an outstanding effort. He is a livewire in the field and is good in the dressing room."
Their batting, however, looked far from promising. Each of the top five batsmen got starts on Sunday, with the highest score being 35. Law held shot selection, not lack of talent, responsible for the batsmen not making it big.
"It's not lack of talent. I have seen these boys from close quarters for a while now, and it's definitely not lack of talent," he said. "They have got skill and it's just about match awareness - being smarter in the shots they choose to play at the right time. If you have been watching for a while now, they lose wickets at crucial times and if they do that we start putting ourselves under pressure. We are learning and we talk about it all the time. They are honest and we can deal with it in an honest manner."
Law also hoped that Sunday's success, which came about three months after West Indies secured their highest successful ODI chase, against Pakistan, would be a stepping stone to higher honours.
"We beat Pakistan a couple of weeks ago, chasing down 300, and now we have defended a reasonably small total against India," he said. "We have beaten two of the best teams in the world.... it's a big ladder, and today is one step closer to where we want to end up.
"People in the Caribbean probably don't see we are working hard as hard as we are. We are pleased we put up a win for everybody in the region. It gives us a warming feeling and hopefully it gives everybody a good feeling as well."