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Samuels the star as Windies triumph
Marlon Samuels inspired a West Indies fightback from the brink to triumph in the ICC World Twenty20 final and deny Sri Lanka a home win.
Samuels' memorable 78 revived the Windies on the way to an improbable 36-run victory at the Premadasa Stadium. In a showpiece match which saw the majority of bowlers excel themselves, Samuels bucked the trend emphatically after an embarrassing false start to their innings in which Chris Gayle could make only three from 16 balls.
Even after Samuels had transformed proceedings, it seemed West Indies had almost certainly fallen short of a winning score with their 137 for six. But it was to be Sri Lanka who truly froze as they fell to six wickets for 21 runs at one point before claiming a final product of 101 all out in the 19th over.
Their famed big-hitters were simply nowhere to be seen for the first half of their innings, as initial caution went to extremes - and Ajantha Mendis (four for 12) took most advantage.
The West Indies took until the fifth over to reach double-figures. Their achingly slow start was under way with four dot-balls from Angelo Mathews to Johnson Charles, who reacted to the fifth by mistiming a catch to mid-off.
After that wicket-maiden - number three Samuels let the sixth ball, his first, go - there was not a run on the board until Nuwan Kulasekera bowled a wide halfway through the second over.
Around 40 was probably par in powerplay. But after Gayle took nine balls to get off the mark, with a scampered single to mid-off - and was eventually lbw pushing forward to Ajantha - the Windies could muster only 14 for two in their first six overs.
It was not until the 12th over, after Kulasekera had dropped Samuels at long-off on 20 off Jeevan Mendis, that birthday boy Dwayne Bravo added a first six to go with the four - over midwicket off Akila Dananjaya. But Samuels clubbed consecutive sixes off the returning Lasith Malinga, over midwicket and extra-cover, and then a third in the over, beyond long-on.
Bravo was to go to lbw, even though bat might have been involved, pushing forward to Ajantha to end a third-wicket stand of 59. Yet when Samuels brought up his 50 with his fourth six, over long-on off Jeevan, West Indies were at last striking to their potential.
It seemed too much too late, though, an impression underlined after Ajantha put himself on a hat-trick - Kieron Pollard cutting, and well-held at backward point, and Andre Russell lbw sweeping. Samuels was eventually sixth out, caught in the leg-side deep off Dananjaya, but captain Darren Sammy gave his team a late lift by taking 16 off Kulasekera's final over.