By R Kaushik in Mirpur
After thrilling win against Australia, West Indies captain says team is as confident of defending ICC World Twenty20 title as ever
The Sher-e-Bangla Stadium witnessed joyous, uninhibited celebrations on Friday (March 28) evening as Australia slumped to its second consecutive loss and West Indies pulled off a second straight win to keep its semifinal hopes, and their prospects of defending its title, alive.
Once victory was completed, Sammy celebrated with a prolonged ‘Gangnam’ jig with Chris Gayle and the rest of his colleagues.
“First of all, I must thank the Almighty for this wonderful victory,” Sammy began, giving away just how much this victory meant to him and his team. “Like I said in the pre-match press conference, talk is cheap. Cricket is a game of action, you could talk all you want, but it is the action that happens on the field that matters. West Indies acted today. It feels very good to come home. It was not an easy win. We fought for it. That win will definitely hurt them.”
It wouldn’t have mattered who bowled the last over, but that it was Faulkner made it even more special, Sammy admitted. “I don’t care who it was bowling, we just knew we had to get 12 runs,” he observed. “But it makes you feel even better when it is the guy who was talking a lot before the game. He bowled some very good yorkers but I stayed low and I got under the ball, which was what I wanted. It is just a good feeling. We needed a win, it was a crucial match for both teams. We held our nerve under pressure better than them and we are very happy with the result.”
Sammy revealed that his team had planned to come out with aggressive intent early. “We discussed the issues. We discussed the way we were going to play them. We decided we are going to come hard at them. We know they are a team, once we put them under pressure, most times when pressure is on, they don’t respond quite well,” he said. “That’s why Gayle from the first over of (Mitchell) Starc went after him. That’s the kind of pressure we are talking. Like I said before, we don’t talk of the cricket. Cricket is played out there in the middle. That’s what we were focussing on. We did mention of how they were talking, and used it as motivation for us to come out and play the game. I thought they got a good score but we were extra motivated to go down and chase it.”
Of the dance, and the celebrations, Sammy had this to say: “The DJ was playing Gangnam style. Chris is our dance group leader. Probably he is saving something for later on. We are just happy. When we play like that, with flair and passion, it is not pre-planned, it just comes out with the celebrations. It just feels good to beat the Australians.
“We want to celebrate this win for today alone. We have not won the tournament. But it is just, playing against Australia, especially the build-up to this game, we will celebrate this win against Australia but come two days’ time, we will focus on Pakistan which is another crucial game for us.”
Gayle batted the way he is known to, reaching 40 off 14 deliveries and getting to his half-century in 31. “I told you that Chris was been hitting the ball very well. He played two knocks which we were not used to seeing him play. The fact that he is batting for long periods, that must be a concern for other teams,” warned Sammy. “Once he is at the wicket, anything is possible. He batted deep again today, scored at the rate we are used to seeing him score at. He gave us the start to have that finish in the end. In this day and age, teams back themselves to get 40-50 in the last 4-5 overs and that’s what we did today. We won with a couple of balls to spare.”
Sammy said the team was as driven and focussed now, as confident at this point as it had been when it left the Caribbean. “We didn’t turn up against India (in the first match) but after that, we have played well. We have not peaked as yet but we are winning games. Hopefully we could peak even better later on in the tournament and win the games that we have to, and come out and achieve our goal which we left home to do, which is to defend the title.”