Around 15 minutes after the semi-final match against Australia had ended, Chris Gayle finally slipped.
He was wearing his cricket spikes and walking on tiles as he made his way to the press conference. He lost his balance but quickly corrected it and then grinned sheepishly. It was his only slip of the day and unfortunately for Australia, before that he had managed to guide West Indies into the final on the back of a powerful display that left the men from Down Under feeling helpless.
The confidence displayed by the West Indies has been astonishing.
Usually, they come into major tournaments these days as a talented, mercurial outfit that finds a way to lose when you least expect it. And when they collapse, it’s like a pack of cards.
But this time round, the arrival of Chris Gayle has given them a man they can trust in; a man who the opposition fears; a man who’ll break into a jig whenever he can. He smashes sixes with terrifying calm and the rest of the team follows suit. Against Australia for example, they had 14 sixes and just 13 fours.
Now the thing about the six is that there is no way to stop it after it leaves the bat. The fielders morph into onlookers and even if you have played dot-balls, one shot allows you to rapidly climb back into the match. In 14 balls against Australia, the West Indies scored 84 runs. For the rest of the time, they were just cruising.
Australia skipper George Bailey couldn’t stop giving an embarrassed sort of smile in the post-match press conference. He had been beaten fair and square by one man.
“Chris Gayle can do that to you. I thought we bowled well early on but you just need to take wickets. He didn’t have to force his hand at all. He could bat at the absolute tempo he wanted. And when he did go, as he does, he went beautifully,” said Bailey.
In fact, Bailey believes, perhaps rightly so, that the left-hander alone stands between Sri Lanka and winning a world title at home.
“If they can get Chris Gayle out for under 20 runs, I think they will win. If they don’t, I think the West Indies are too strong,” said Bailey. “Sri Lanka are a pretty well balanced side. It will be interesting to see. I think you can get 160 against the West Indies with their bowling attack. I am sitting on the fence a little bit there.”
So how will Gayle respond to the pressure? Probably by doing the Gangnam.
“I saw the video a couple of months ago,” said Gayle. “When it came out, there was a lot of talk about it. That’s how I got into it. It depends on what sort of mood I’m in. It’s a good dance to be honest. I enjoy it. Everybody does.”
Not so sure, Sri Lanka will enjoy it if West Indies power their way to what will go down as a famous win.
“It’s going to be a thriller against world-class players but it’s going to be good fun. We’re enjoying it, but at the same time we want to win the final. We struggled to reach this far. Some in the media might have had us as favourites but we did struggle. Now there’s just one more hurdle and there’s no pressure on us.”