Windies through to World T20 semis after dramatic triumph over Kiwis
A superb three-wicket haul by Man-of-the-Match Sunil Narine and heroic bowling and batting from Marlon Samuels were crucial performances as West Indies beat New Zealand to qualify for the semifinals of the ICC World T20 tournament.
Off-spinner Narine was deadly with his variations and had the excellent figures of 4-0-20-3 as West Indies held New Zealand to 139 for 5 off 20 overs at the Pallekele International Stadium, yesterday. The match ended in a thrilling tie with a wicket off the final ball via a superb direct hit with a rocket throw by substitute Dwayne Smith from deep midwicket.
Samuels volunteered to bowl the last over with the Kiwis needing 13 runs to win, and also bowled the "Super Over" when the match went to the One-Over Eliminator.
Earlier in the day, Chris Gayle made 30 off 14 balls with three fours and two sixes, while Samuels made 24 and Kieron Pollard found some form with a fighting 28 as West Indies were bowled out for 139 off 19.3 overs.
After the New Zealand innings, the match then went to the One-Over Eliminator and Samuels again put his hand up to bowl, despite carrying a shoulder injury. The over went for 17 runs. With 18 to win and a spot in the semis up for grabs, Chris Gayle launched the first ball into the crowd and Samuels ended the game with a huge six over midwicket to spark Windies celebrations.
West Indies captain Darren Sammy was all smiles after the match. Their place in the semifinals was confirmed when Sri Lanka beat England by 19 runs. • See Page 58
"It was a cracker of a match...great match from start to finish. It was good to see we had the strength and held our nerve to pull through. Congrats to everyone on the way we handled the pressure. It was a must-win and everyone stayed focused to bring it home," Sammy said.
"Narine was excellent with the ball and his last spell was something like two wickets for five runs off two overs at a stage when we really needed it. It was a brilliant performance and I'm sure it has given him confidence going into the semis. He delivered today. We all know what he is capable of doing–bowling in these pressure situations.
"I was happy with the much better bowling display from us and it feels good that we got the result that we wanted. Eighteen runs in the 'Super Over' with Chris batting, it is always possible. We back Chris to clear the boundary. Six runs off a no-ball was just a perfect start. When games get so tight the true West Indies celebrations come out.
"And also Marlon Samuels...he's suffering from bad shoulders and that's why he doesn't bowl too many overs. Today he said 'give me the ball' and he did the job with ball and bat. We also had a brilliant run out from Dwayne Smith. Chris also held a superb catch at slip and that changed the game at a crucial stage. Ravi Rampaul again bowled well with the new ball at the top and Samuel Badree was good on his return."
Yesterday's victory means that both West Indies men's and women's teams have qualified for the semifinals for the first time in the same World T20 tournament. Sammy believes this is a good sign for West Indies cricket.
"I'm extremely happy for the girls as well. They have been doing really well. It is good that both Caribbean teams are in the semifinals, and it's great that both our teams have made it this far. We are moving forward and we will both look to win the trophies. We have two more hurdles to jump, and hopefully we will jump them and bring some joy to people of the Caribbean."
The West Indies men will travel to Colombo this morning. Their semi-final will be on Friday at 9.30 a.m (T&T time). Their opponents will be known when Group 2 is completed today. The Windies women play their semi-final against Australia, also on Friday, from five a.m. (T&T time).
Group 2 (Colombo)
Australia vs Pakistan
India vs South Africa