When one of Jasprit Bumrah's trademark missiles homed in on Chris Gayle's offstump on Thursday night, I could almost hear the roar in my neighbourhood. My phone - with ESPNcricinfo alerts and various cricket-mad WhatsApp groups - beeped non-stop. It was like India had averted a disaster. But this game was not about Gayle. In fact, the West Indies T20 team has never really been just about Gayle. Look down that team sheet, and you'll find the names of Samuels, Simmons, Russell, Bravo and Sammy. Gayle is only the frontman of a band of rockstars all capable of devastating one-man shows.
There's one player, though, who goes unnoticed in this line-up of behemoths. He's of average height and average build, bordering on rotund. He cannot take gymnast-catches on the boundary-line, he cannot clear the ropes with a bat in his hand (in fact, he has never done so in international T20s). You can never find joy, hope, sadness, anger or frustration on his face, whatever may be his team's fortunes. In this respect, he out-Dhonis Dhoni.
In a team of dreadlocks and mohawks, he sports a haircut straight out of a strict boarding school. He does not have a stripper pole in his house - even if he does, he doesn't post about it on Instagram. His Twitter photo has him in a white formal shirt and trousers. Looking at it, you might think he's the team's accountant. Still, he has been, ahead of all of those big names, Windies' best player this World Cup.
Samuel Badree is the anti-West Indian. He's not a one-man show; why, he's not a show at all. He thrives on the fact that no one notices him and no one plans for him. He bowls in the first quarter of an innings, does an efficient job and hides in the field for the rest of the time. His bowling revels in being completely ordinary. He doesn't turn the ball much, but finds a length and line hard to hit and mixes it with changes in pace and flight. He bowls the occasional googly, but you won't find him ever advertising any of those novel deliveries that Warne or Saqlain announced every once in a while. Still, his career economy rate is 5.44 and he has an average of 15.05. (Yes, better than Sunil Narine.) He is a mystery bowler only in the sense that no one realises he is effective and even the ones who do, don't get why.
Badree didn't play either of the warm-up games. A surprising fact considering he last turned out for West Indies in 2014. He does not have much experience in India either - he has never played a T20 international here, and he has only bowled a handful of overs in the IPL. It showed in the first game against England. He bowled three bad balls in his second over - that's usually his quota for three games - and Alex Hales duly despatched them to the boundary.
But in the next game, he sank Sri Lanka with three top-order wickets for 12 runs in four overs. Of course, Fletcher won the Man of the Match for his one-man show with the bat and Badree's performance, as always, merged into the scenery. He had a quiet game against South Africa where his three overs went for 22, but even in that disastrous outing against Afghanistan, he removed both Shahzad and Stanikzai and ended up with 3 for just 14 off four overs.
Against India, his four overs for 26, when every other bowler went for over 9 an over, kept the score from ballooning beyond 200. He got the wicket of Rohit Sharma just when he was teeing off. He bowled only one bad ball - that was duly sent to the boundary - and conceded just one more boundary, off an outside edge. On a flat pitch on a small ground, this was an extraordinary performance. At the end of the day, Simmons, Russell and Charles took the honours for a thrilling chase, but Badree, as ever, quietly did his part with the ball.
There is a video of Bravo and Sammy doing the "Champion" dance after yesterday's game. They get down from the team bus at their hotel, Sammy has a Bose docking station in his hand, "Champion" is playing on it, and they are putting on a spectacular song-and-dance routine for the crowd waiting at the hotel. Gayle, to the delight of the audience, joins in. This is a bunch of loveable bros telling the world that "hey, it's a game, you're supposed to have fun".
Somewhere in that video, there is Samuel Badree, uninterested in the whole thing, peering into his cell phone, probably asking his family what they had for breakfast. That's Samuel Badree, the man who never fails, indispensable to the team (and so he had to be in that video), but the man who forever remains anonymous.