West Indies and England have a bit of history when it comes to facing each other in the final of ICC events. One may go back in time to Clive Lloyd’s mighty West Indians and their one-sided triumph over England in the 1979 World Cup final, with the great Viv Richards smashing one of the greatest one-day knocks of all time.
Or remember Courtney Browne and Ian Bradshaw’s heroic unbeaten ninth-wicket stand that helped the ‘Calypso Kings’ pull off an unexpected victory in the final of the 2004 Champions Trophy.
Come Sunday, England will look to get the better of the Caribbeans for once in a tournament final. The two sides meet at Eden Gardens on Sunday in the ICC World T20 summit clash after pulling off identical seven-wicket victories in the semis of the mega-event.
Let’s do a recap of how both teams made their way to the final, starting with the third match of the Super-10 stage in which the two sides clashed at the Wankhede in Mumbai on 16 March:
16 March, West Indies vs England (Match 15), Mumbai:
On a flat deck at the Wankhede, England needed a total in excess of 200 to put some pressure on West Indies batsmen.
Joe Root's 36-ball 48 along with wicketkeeper batsman Jos Buttler's 20-ball 30 propelled England to a competitive score of 182/6 at the end of 20 overs. Eoin Morgan’s men made good progress after losing the wicket of opener Jason Roy early on but a rush of wickets at the death prevented them from crossing the 200-run mark.
West Indies were under early pressure after Johnson Charles was dismissed for a duck off David Willey before Chris Gayle and Marlon Samuels eased things up by focusing on the easy singles with an occasional boundary.
In the end, however, it turned out to be 'The Chris Gayle Nite' as the Jamaican smashed 11 sixes and five fours to bring up his second T20I hundred, remaining unbeaten on 100 off 48 deliveries. He made short work of the 183-run target.
18 March, England vs South Africa (Match 18), Mumbai
The game which will go down as one of the greatest in the tournament’s history. England pulled off a miracle, chasing down a target of 230 (which may translate to something in excess of 400 in ODIs).
Captain Eoin Morgan put South Africa to bat, a trick he learnt the hard way in the previous game against the West Indies.
The Proteas were killing it right from the very second over of their innings, with wicketkeeper-batsman Quinton de Kock firing on all cylinders. South Africa reached 83/0 at the end of PowerPlay, and a score of 250 was on the cards. While De Kock and Hashim Amla motored to their respective half-centuries, skipper Faf du Plessis and AB de Villiers failed to carry the momentum. A late cameo from JP Duminy, however, guided them to 229/4.
In reply, England openers Roy (43 off 16) and Alex Hales got off to an explosive start, with England crossing the 50-run mark in less than three overs. South Africa managed to claw their way into the game with a few quick wickets before Root (83 off 44 balls) took over.
Executing a vast array of strokes, Root was particularly harsh on Chris Morris whom he smashed for three consecutive boundaries in the 18th over to effectively seal the deal for England. Though there was a bit of drama in the final over, a calm Moeen Ali ensured there were no hiccups.
23 March, England vs Afghanistan (Match 24), Delhi
The first game of the tournament to be played at the Feroz Shah Kotla, whose status as a venue for the World T20 was clouded by allegations of corruption. It went on to host all four scheduled games, though, including the first semi-final.
A spirited Afghanistan would not go down without a fight, and boy did they show some courage! England replaced opener Alex Hales with James Vince due to fitness concerns. Afghanistan attack got the better of the England top-order, reducing them to 57/6. It took a composed 41 by Moeen to pull England out of trouble. Afghanistan, in reply, failed to stitch a decent partnership and England ultimately won by 15 runs but it was far closer than they would've liked.
26 March, England vs Sri Lanka (Match 29), Delhi
This tie went on to decide the fates of three sides in the tournament — that of South Africa apart from the two participating teams.
While 2010 champions England were going at a decent clip, it took a blinder from Jos Buttler (66 n.o. from 37 deliveries) for England to ultimately finish on a competitive score of 171/4.
The defending champions had to win to stay alive. Many Sri Lanka fans would have switched their TV sets off when their team lost first four wickets for just 15 on board. And they missed what turned out to be an incredible comeback by skipper Angelo Mathews.
Mathews started off by hammering a couple of boundaries off Chris Jordan following the flurry of wickets. After keeping the run-rate steady in the next few overs, Mathews and Chamara Kapugedera decided to take Adil Rashid to the cleaners in the 12th over, which fetched 21 runs. The duo added 80 runs for the fifth wicket to bring Sri Lanka back into the game.
Despite Mathews’s brilliant innings (73 off 54 balls), some unbelievable death bowling from Chris Jordan and Ben Stokes ultimately sealed a 10-run win for England.
30 March, England vs New Zealand (first semi-final), Delhi
The game at Kotla was billed as a contest between England’s vast batting depth and New Zealand’s spinners.
If New Zealand were brilliant in their first 10 overs — smashing 89/1 with Colin Munro and Kane Williamson demolishing the opposition, England came back strongly in the second half of Kiwi innings. As Williamson and Munro departed in quick succession, the formidable pace bowling pair of Jordan and Stokes once again dried the runs up for New Zealand. Stokes took 3/26 as the Black Caps finished on a below-par score of 153/8.
England’s chase of the 154-run target turned out to be a one-man show as Jason Roy’s 44-ball 78 (11 fours and two sixes) beat the Black Caps to a pulp as England cantered their way towards the target.
Let us now turn our focus on the West Indies:
20 March, West Indies vs Sri Lanka (Match 21), Bengaluru
If the West Indians were clinical in their chase against England, they produced an outstanding all-round show in their second game against Sri Lanka at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru.
Sri Lankan batsmen were stifled from the very start, with only Perera putting up a brave effort with a 29-ball 40 that included five boundaries and a six. Samuel Badree was the pick of the bowlers, taking 3/12.
A decked-up Chris Gayle was dragged away from the field by umpire Ian Gould to prevent him from batting after the Jamaican spent a sizeable amount of time off the field. After the rather comical incident that deprived the fearsome West Indian opener a chance to take on the Sri Lankan bowlers, Andre Fletcher filled in for him rather beautifully as he smashed an unbeaten 84 off 64 deliveries to seal a seven-wicket win. Though Bengaluru were deprived of a Gayle show, Fletcher’s blazing knock helped establish the depth in batting that the West Indians possess.
25 March, West Indies vs South Africa (Match 27), Nagpur
South Africa had to win this game if they were to qualify for the semis. Unfortunately, the curse of the ICC tournaments caught them again.
South Africa's top-order completely collapsed. Wicketkeeper batsman De Kock watched helplessly as his teammates made their short trips to the centre of the VCA stadium in Jamtha. The likes of Andre Russell and Chris Gayle ran through the top-order on a track that was proving a minefield for the batsmen. The Proteas collapsed to 47/5 before De Kock guided them past the 100-run mark with a valiant 47.
A target of 123 could have been defended if the Proteas managed to take early wickets. The brilliant Kagiso Rabada managed to rattle Gayle’s off-stump for 4. However, knocks from opener Charles (32) and veteran Marlon Samuels (43) helped put the West Indians back on track.
Wickets off two consecutive deliveries by Imran Tahir created some drama towards the end but a cool-headed Carlos Brathwaite knocked the Proteas out with a six off Rabada in the final over.
West Indies vs Afghanistan, 27 March, Match 30, Nagpur
West Indies faced an eliminated, but brave Afghanistan in their final game of the tournament, with the match having no real significance for either side. Afghanistan, however, utilised the opportunity to prove to the world that they are not to be trifled with.
A defiant Najubullah Zadran hammered 48 runs off 40 deliveries as Afghanistan posted 123/7. He was one of the three Afghan batsmen to score in double-digits.
Gayle was rested ahead of the game, and rookie Evin Lewis took his place instead. West Indies failed to keep the required run-rate under check as the Afghan attack kept pecking at regular intervals.
Amir Hamza bowled one of the best spells of the tournament, conceding a mere nine runs off his four overs while taking a wicket. Mohammad Nabi and Rashid Khan took two wickets for 26 runs each as West Indies fell six runs short, giving Afghanistan their first-ever victory over a Test-playing nation as well as their first win in a World T20 match.
West Indies vs India, 31 March, 2nd semi-final, Mumbai
The match in which the West Indies broke a billion hearts. The match in which the Caribbeans proved they have an incredible batting depth.
For a change, the Indian top-order collectively fired as a unit, with Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane posting scores in the 40s. However, the soul of the Indian essay was Virat Kohli, who posted his highest score as well as his third fifty of the World T20, smashing 89 off 47 deliveries including 11 fours and a six. Much like the match-winning 82 not out against Australia, this inning was defined by textbook strokes all over the park on a Wankhede track that is every batsman’s dream.
Sadly for him, Lendl Simmons stole his thunder. After losing Gayle and Samuels early, it was Simmons’ innings of 82 off 51, along with supporting knocks from Charles (52 off 36 balls) and Andre Russell (43 off 20 balls) helped West Indies keep their campaign alive. Russell hit the winning six off the bowling of Kohli in the last over, one which reduced the latter to tears.
The match had its share of comedy. Kohli should have been run-out twice on a score of 1. Simmons had been dismissed twice in his innings, only to be given breathers on both occasions by front-foot no-balls.
In the end, it was West Indies’ day and they proved to the world that they were still a side to reckon with in the shortest format.
West Indies and England won three out of four games each in the group stage. But they had subtle differences in their approach.
While West Indies looked dominant for the most part in their round-robin matches (barring their complacent show against Afghanistan), England had to huff and puff. In the end, however, both sides were clinical in the semis and will meet for an epic battle at the grandest venue of them all — the Eden Gardens.
Let us see whose bowls better in the death overs. Let us see which team fires more powerfully. Let us see which side becomes the first in history to lift the World T20 trophy for a second time.