Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo
It's 6.15pm. Stafanie Taylor and Hayley Matthews sit in the room just outside the press-conference room, waiting for Australia to finish their press conference. They have won the World T20, they have danced beautifully, they have the trophies next to them, but the overwhelming feeling seems that of exhaustion.
There are wet shirts all around. Even on those who are not working. It is extremely humid in Kolkata. The men finalists are going through their final warm-ups. Pretty soon, time will start racing past West Indies and England. West Indies have been extremely confident coming into the final, but they have only chased every time. How will they react if they lose the toss? England have a coach who has coached an IPL team here. They will look to expose every small weakness: the slow legs in the field, the jogging through for singles.
West Indies are a shrewd team too: look at how they did damage control against Virat Kohli and India. They know the finiteness of this format gives them an edge. Also, luck will play a much bigger part in this than any other format.
At 6.30pm, Darren Sammy walks out with an arm around Eoin Morgan. Sammy is in his usual playful mood. Twice Sammy threatens to move out of the frame as the cameras ask them to pose. Morgan is the home captain here, which is strange because England were originally allotted the away dressing room, which is at wide long-off. Now they have the dressing room right behind the bowler's arm. At any rate West Indies should have got the home dressing room: they ended top of their group; in the semi-final they beat the home side.
Anyway, Morgan tosses the coin three pitches away, into the group of photographers. Sammy wins the toss for a tenth straight time. That is ominous. Morgan could go all George Costanza and claim "interference" because "it affects the coin" but he doesn't. Sammy could have gone all Seinfeld and said "you didn't call 'no interference'" but he doesn't need to now.
Jason Roy plays Samuel Badree for the turn. This is really smart bowling, but not smart batting. Twice, Roy plays for the turn. The first one is an unsuccessful lbw shout. The second bowls him. Everybody knows you don't play Badree for the turn. As they cross, Roy gestures to Joe Root that the ball is skidding. Root's first two balls are 1 and 4. The second one is a beauty, going back to a skiddy spinner, punching a slow ball that stays low through cover for four. It is a really skilful shot. After this start they might need Root's skill as against the power of Roy that won them the chase against New Zealand. England 7 for 1 after one over.
Alex Hales is a lovely batsman through the covers. He is not given anything to free his arms. He quickly finds short fine leg with a flick. Three balls is not a long enough time, but he has not been given a single favourite ball. There is a bit of bad luck involved here, though: two balls before he got out, he was turning back for a relatively easy second but his bat got stuck, he lost the run, and was caught on strike. England 8 for 2 after 1.5.
Enter Morgan. Two golden ducks to his name. England's worst start in a T20 international since 2013. He has history with Phil Simmons. West Indies will have plans in place. "Be nice to get past the first ball," Morgan said. He has now gone six balls, but hasn't scored a run. And has failed to read a Badree googly. It's 9 for 2 after three overs, but West Indies do what they have been doing. Take Andre Russell off after one over. Sulieman Benn bowls the fourth over.
Benn doesn't stand out too much as a spinner - despite his height - but he has got a beautiful action when seen side-on. The back arches to a ridiculous degree for a man so tall, and he is perfectly side-on at the point of delivery. But is this a good move? Russell can increase the pressure. Benn stands a chance of releasing it. Release it he does with three boundaries to Root. Benn is not a Powerplay bowler. Is this the release England need? They have more than doubled their score, and are now 23 for 2 after four.
Morgan repeats the mistake Roy made. Keeps playing Badree for the turn, and keeps not picking the wrong'un. Finally an edge arrives to end the unconvincing stay. Wicket-maiden. Down to Root and Jos Buttler. Once again. England 23 for 3 after five.
Dwayne Bravo now. Outside the game against Afghanistan, only once has he bowled inside the Powerplay so far. That too was against England. He is bowling slower balls almost exclusively. The second ball is short but doesn't arrive. In any other format Buttler aborts the cut, but this is T20. You have to take the risk. He has to impart power with his hands. That means the ball goes in the air. But luckily just far enough to the left of cover-point, and about chest high. Surely you don't place these? You hit hard and hope. Buttler is away. England 33 for 3 after six.
In the middle of his last over, Badree gets a little too ambitious, and tries to deny England the singles to long-on. Asks his short midwicket to move straight. Straighter. Straighter. And either gets his angle wrong and places him in front of long-on or gets too cute. The next ball is pushed through that vacant midwicket slot for four. Can England get to a score where these little mistakes are made to count? They are 41 for 3 after seven. Badree bowls another big spell on a big day: 4-1-16-2.
West Indies have got off to an excellent start. They are now looking for a few quiet overs from Carlos Brathwaite and Benn. England need to deny them that. Gayle picked on Adil Rashid in their league match and didn't let him bowl his quota, so they need to pick on somebody. They need to make Sammy bowl. He has bowled only two overs in the tournament. Surely he is not looking forward to bowl?
England pick on Benn. Buttler is playing a big innings here. He is not letting West Indies have the quiet over. With his height Benn can be difficult to hit if he gets his areas right, but Buttler is not letting him do that. In the 11th over he hits him for back-to-back sixes. One straight down and one over long-off. He has not let Benn get his areas right. He is 3-0-40-0. England still only 83 for 3 after 11 on a pretty good pitch. Even if they get ten an over now, it is not going to be enough on a flat pitch with possible dew later.
West Indies can go into damage control now. England need to keep going big. No room to think: what if we get out? West Indies' problem is that while they have five overs to come from Bravo and Russell, they have to fit in three from the young Brathwaite - who has done well so far in the tournament - but is still a youngster on a huge stage. Benn has to bowl one. There are one or two really big overs somewhere.
West Indies go to Brathwaite. Buttler keeps going, and finds deep midwicket. Bravo goes full "Champion" after taking the catch. It's one of those things; Buttler played a riskier shot early in the innings but got away. England 89 for 4 after 12. This is the traditional double-the-score point in ODIs. But West Indies should be favourites even if England get 178.
A wicket has fallen. Sammy finds the perfect opportunity to sneak in his over. This is damage-control T20 cricket as opposed to get-the-wickets ODIs. Root and Ben Stokes take 14 off this over, though. The fifth bowler has gone for 54. Root has brought up an excellent fifty. England are just about staying in this. They need to take down one more bowler. Otherwise they might end up with just a par score. They are 103 for 4 after 13.
Bravo is the man for the big occasion. His unflattering figures of 4-0-44-0 against India in the semi-final do no justice to his clever bowling in the damage-control period. He bowls a superb bouncer to Stokes, in that it is right at his head. Stokes seems to be expecting a slower ball - five of Bravo's eight previous deliveries have been slower ones. This one is sharp. Stokes is surprised. He is trying to get out of the way, but it hits the bat and lobs up for a catch to point. Big Dawg is making all the difference on the big occasion. He has Moeen Ali caught off a strangle down leg. His celebration ends at deep midwicket where they all go "Champion". England 110 for 6 after 14.
Brathwaite is perhaps playing because of the injury to Kieron Pollard, but it has possibly worked out for the best. Brathwaite has offered more as a bowler in the high-pressure overs than Pollard does. He bowled well against India at the death, and here he has now got the big wicket of Root, who finds short fine leg with his attempted ramp. They all rush towards Benn: he has had a bad day with the ball, he might have been ordinary in the field in the semi-final, but he has now picked out a diving catch. England 115 for 7 after 15.
England are in a serious spot here. The bowlers now need to put on the runs, but how do they go about doing it? Do they just go bang bang because just to bat the 20 overs out might not mean much. Turns out they have the skill and composure to mix and match. The partnership between David Willey and Chris Jordan is 6 off 12 when Willey plays the first aggressive shot, and slogs a slower one over cow corner. He then drills a low full toss for a straight six off the last ball. England 131 for 1 after 17.
West Indies continue to be good in the field. Johnson Charles times his dive perfectly after misjudging one, and then Badree injures himself but takes another to make sure England don't get a massive push. In the end, though, the bowlers have done as well as could have been expected of them, adding 44 in 35 balls since Root got out. In a league match 155 is 35 short of a par score, but this is the final. It does weird things.
An elderly couple in the crowd has decided it is too late to be staying out already. This is Kolkata we are talking about, where sweets shops close at 9pm. You must not lose sleep. The man tells the woman: let's just watch Gayle bat and then leave. That is an early night either way. Gayle will get out early or finish this match early.
Willey bowls a great first over. Johnson Charles has two shots basically: the shovel over midwicket to a short ball, and the shovel down the ground to half-volleys. India fed him that. Willey doesn't. He swings it and bowls full but not full enough to be driven. West Indies 1 for 0 after one.
Root. He has scored a fifty. And is now asked to open the bowling. It is not a bad move. India missed that trick in the semi-final. The West Indies batsman like pace on the ball. And if there is going to be dew, get a few overs of spin out of the way early. Not even Root would have imagined, though, that Charles and Gayle would go for big shots that would settle with Stokes at long-on (Charles) and long-off (Gayle). This is not the smartest bit of batting, even West Indies' this-is-how-we-bat batsmen will agree. These are wafts in the general direction of where one of the only two deep fielders is. Perhaps nerves. Where they want to get that one boundary before they can play their game. This is the final. The elderly couple must be leaving, but they might miss a great finish. West Indies 10 for 2.
Willey continues swinging the ball. India didn't swing the ball. He bowls a beauty to the man of the semi-final, Lendl Simmons. West Indies 13 for 3 after three.
West Indies now can't keep replying just on the boundaries. They need to stop the fall of wickets, but they need to keep going at at least a run a ball while they are doing so. Until perhaps the tenth over. Or even 12th. England, though, keep going for the wickets. Jordan and Liam Plunkett bounce the batsmen for two overs, but draw no response. There has already been a single that should have been two. West Indies 21 for 3 after five.
In the last over of the Powerplay, with the asking rate having reached nine already, Marlon Samuels decides this over has to go. He pulls one, top-edges another, and then plays the trademark cover drive after backing away. After the first shot he pumped himself. After the cover drive he just stands and looks dismissively. West Indies 37 for 3 after six. They are now doing that run-a-ball thing all right.
Samuels didn't look in his element in the nets. He is usually quite inactive, slow of walk, hardly talks, and just quietly does his thing. The day before the final he was even quieter. Even slower. Observers say it is usually a sign something special is in store. He has already played two shots worth the entry fee, but now he edges one and is sent on his way. He trudges off slowly. Denesh Ramdin crosses him on his way in. Any other batsman would have been in the shower by the time the umpires belated checking the legality of the delivery and the catch. Samuels, though, is not yet off the field. He, Ramdin and Stokes are at the 30-yard circle. The replays show the ball seems to have bounced before settling in. Samuels walks back in. There are words exchanged between Stokes and him. There is anger on his face. His demeanour shows determination. Samuels has had some luck with the top edge. There is a second Man-of-the-Match award in a World T20 final for the taking. He is destiny's child. There seems to be a bit of inevitability to this. West Indies 39 for 3 after seven.
Plunkett and Rashid bowl quiet overs. West Indies are 54 for 3 after ten. Will they start going now? It's ten an over, and they are a great team at chasing ten an over. They can hit a boundary early. They can hit a boundary late. They can hit a boundary in the middle. They can hit a boundary anytime. It will take great bowling from England to keep them down, but there is one key difference here. Against India they were always going, against England they have to switch gears. Samuels does it with a cut that has no hint of violence to it. To the first ball of the 11th over. Rashid doesn't let that happen to his over, the 12th. He is 3-0-13-0 at the end of it. West Indies 67 for 3 after 12 overs. Asking rate 11.12.
After the first ball of the 13th over, the rug, the dreaded rug, comes out. This could be a game changer. The first sign of dew, but this looks really bad. Moeen Ali has not even bowled. He might not get to bowl now. Stokes bowls a wide next ball. Throws a rueful look at Morgan at extra cover. This has slipped out of his hand. He now goes short, draws a top edge from Bravo towards deep square. Sam Billings - perhaps the first time he has been on the field in the tournament - runs to his right from deep midwicket, gets under the ball, and slips. Drops of water spray up as he slips. The ball goes through. He is out of position. This is four. West Indies 76 for 3 after 13. Asking rate 11.42.
England are handicapped now with the dew. They need to find every skill, every trick. They can play on Samuels' running. He turns down an easy second run early in the 14th over, but Bravo tonks the next ball for six. What do you do when the hitting is so clean? The hitting is not so clean all the time, though. Later in the over, Bravo is gone. West Indies 86 for 4 after 14, asking rate 11.66.
Samuels is hitting them clean now. When he hits them clean he stays inside the ball and hits them straight. Plunkett is 3-0-11-0 as he comes back for the 15th over. Bowling with a wet ball, he misses his yorkers only by a little, but Samuels takes him for 17 runs in the over. West Indies have got this now: 104 for 4 after 15, asking rate back to 10.40.
Willey has had a great tournament. It's all going down now, given Samuels' hitting form. But Willey takes out two massive hitters in one over. The first one is short, and hit just to the right of deep midwicket. The second one is full and whipped straight to deep cover. Willey mocks the "Champion" dance. Will he live to rue this? West Indies 111 for 6 after 16. Asking rate 11.25.
Jordan. Bajan by birth. Plays for England. Bowling great yorkers through the tournament. Has two overs left. Jordan has to win this for England. Samuels' running can help them. Their own fielding can help them. Samuels hits the first ball hard but doesn't take the single to extra cover. Brathwaite is nearly run out. But Samuels smites the next ball over mid-off for four. This kind of batting is risky, but he seems to have made up his mind to stay till the end. This is not as comfortable as it once looked, but the fact that Brathwaite has hit the first ball he faces out of the screws is a good sign for West Indies. A great save at extra cover from Morgan keeps them down to one. This is now going to be West Indies' strength against England's pluck. West Indies 118 for 6 after 17. Asking rate 12.66.
When Virat Kohli single-handedly beat Australia, India needed 39 off the last three. West Indies need 38. Kohli, though, batted with an urgency Samuels is not capable of. He is hitting them sweetly but he is not going to manipulate the field. He is not going to turn ones into twos. And every ball off which two are not scored increases the pressure. Now Samuels pushes for a two. Later in the Willey over he dives to make it for the second. This must be a big match, then. Samuels is stretching himself. This must have got out of control. Moeen, who makes the save but allows Samuels to come back for the second, is asked to leave long-off and go to fine leg. A change made a ball too late?
West Indies know Jordan is executing his yorkers excellently despite the wet ball. After having missed about ten runs through slow running and the lack of pressure on the fielders, West Indies are now urgent. Are they ruing the lack of urgency earlier? Do they still believe in their big hitting? It is not all just big hitting, though. With 31 required off 13, and Willey looking to finish an excellent over well, Brathwaite goes down on a knee - all 6'7" of him - and ramps Willey over short fine. This is a shot that keeps them from panicking. They now need 27 off the last two.
England are not going to be fancy with their late plans. They do what all teams do: bowl their best bowler in the 19th. Jordan is their best death bowler. He has made great strides in this tournament. Now they are so close. He needs to give Stokes enough to defend. He doesn't make a great start. The plan is to have mid-off up and give him the freedom to bowl leg-stump yorkers with fine leg back. He misses the yorker, Samuels hits straight, over mid-off. Jordan comes back superbly with four deliveries the batsmen can't get under. The tension is getting big. Samuels came in during a crisis, has played himself in, has played the big shots, but he is not running great. This is the brutal time in a T20. You cannot judge this innings without the result, which is possible in longer formats of the game. If West Indies win this, he will twice have been Man of the Match in a World T20 final. If West Indies don't, he will be pilloried for his dot-ball percentage and his running. An over stands between greatness and ridicule. Chances are, he might not even play a part in this over. In the here and now, though, he needs to hit a boundary to ease the pressure on Brathwaite.
Jordan runs in, Bajan to Jamaican, bowls a wide yorker, Samuels looks to steer it away but misses. This has been a sensational over. It deserves to win the match. It has left Stokes 18 runs to defend. West Indies need 19. Three boundaries, at least one of them a six.
What happens between Stokes and Brathwaite is now the stuff of legend: 6, 6, 6, 6 from a rookie off the most promising allrounder in the world. This is smooth hitting without a hint of violence. Yet three of these are massive sixes. It ends with Stokes in tears and Samuels topless in front of the England dressing room, which was originally West Indies', right behind the bowler's arm, gesticulating, venting.
West Indies are deserved champions, they can now forget the odd unusual field placement, the many runs missed through slow running. Their flirtation with the line between championship and heartbreak, and England's pluck through the first 19 overs of the defence have given us arguably the greatest World T20 final.
England vs West Indies