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Match reports

England v West Indies

Wisden's review of the Final, England v West Indies

Jonathan Liew
At Kolkata, April 3, 2016 (floodlit). West Indies won by four wickets. Toss: West Indies.
On a sweltering evening at Eden Gardens, West Indies became the first team to win the World Twenty20 twice. But their victory felt unique for another reason: as far as anybody could remember, nobody had ever won a game, let alone a global final, quite like this. With six balls remaining, they required 19. But the night smelled faintly of possibility. Now, four consecutive sixes from Brathwaite off Stokes capsized a match that had seemed England's for the taking. By the time his third six levelled the scores, the West Indian players were embracing in the dugout. Stokes, whose death bowling had been so effective throughout England's journey to the final, was a broken man. The fourth six felt sadistically emphatic - like shooting a corpse between the eyeballs.
It was tempting to attribute this remarkable reversal to some unquantifiable outpouring of belief: the surging pride of the islands, the underdog spirit of a group of players chided and derided in equal measure. Yet it was simpler than that. To borrow the modern coach's parlance, West Indies simply executed their skills better when it mattered. This applied not merely to the final over, but to their all-round performance. Brathwaite's innings supplemented his three wickets with the ball, but it was not deemed enough to win the match award. For the second time in three finals, that honour went to Samuels, for his unbeaten 85, the highest score in a World T20 final, beating his own 78 in 2012. Badree also had a claim. Striking with the second ball, as Roy stayed fatally back, and bowling his entire spell from the start, he wreathed the England top order in a pythonine grip, from which they were only partially able to escape. From 23 for three, Root and Buttler, who hit Benn for three sixes in five balls, jabbed the innings into life with a stand of 61. But three wickets in four deliveries - Root the last of them, caught at short fine leg attempting a scoop - left England 111 for seven, with nearly six overs remaining. Willey helped keep them in the game, though, and no team had overhauled more than their 155 for nine to win a World T20 final.
West Indies were more comfortable batting second, and had been grateful for Sammy's tenth successful call in a row at the toss, but any notions of complacency were soon banished. Root was handed the ball in the second over, a tactic designed to tempt Gayle. He went beyond the call of duty: Charles launched Root's first delivery high to long-on, and Gayle his third to long-off - both securely held by Stokes (the four openers in this game thus totalled six runs, a record low for any Twenty20 international). Samuels was given out on 27, caught behind off Plunkett, only for replays to show Buttler had taken it on the bounce. That allowed Samuels and Bravo to rebuild, but West Indies were falling dramatically behind the asking-rate: with six overs left, they required 70.
Tempers frayed. When they batted, England had been unimpressed by the West Indians' habit of performing Bravo's trademark "Champion" dance after every wicket, and by the send-off given to Root. Now Samuels and Stokes - a pair with a salty history - clashed again, a fracas that extended into a gloating post-match press conference, when Samuels mocked: "He doesn't learn." Samuels was fined 30% of his match fee. Still, after Willey picked up two wickets in the 16th over - greeting the demise of Sammy with a Champion dance of his own - to make it 107 for six, and Jordan delivered a sumptuous set of yorkers to concede only eight runs in the 19th, England looked safe.
But Stokes's first ball was leg-sidish, and Brathwaite's well-timed hew cleared fine leg. The second was full on leg stump, a couple of inches from the blockhole, but those inches were sufficient for Brathwaite to get under the ball and muscle it high over long-on. The third was full and straight. Such was the adrenaline coursing through Brathwaite's biceps that, even though the ball did not remotely find the middle of his bat, it soared over long-off. And, before the fourth six had sailed into the crowd over midwicket, maroon shirts were flooding the field. Stokes slumped to his haunches. But, for West Indies, whose women's team had triumphed earlier in the day, the night smelled of victory.
Man of the Match: M. N. Samuels. Man of the Tournament: V. Kohli.