Colombo, Sri Lanka – Marlon Samuels held onto the ICC World T20 trophy and didn’t want to let it go.
Winning the trophy “means everything to us”, he said after the Windies beat Sri Lanka by 36 runs to take the title in grand style on Sunday night.
Samuels led a rally late in the innings as the West Indies made a competitive 139-6 off their 20 overs. He blasted a career-best 78 off 56 balls with six sixes, after the innings was deep in trouble at 32-2 off 10 overs. The next highest score was captain Darren Sammy with a cameo 26 not out off 15 balls in the final stages of the innings.
The 31-year-old Samuels then returned with the ball to take a wicket as the homeside was bowled out for 101 before a stunned the capacity crowd at the R Premadasa Stadium.
“This is a great achievement, for past cricketers and for these cricketers who have bonded together to form a strong unit. The entire Caribbean embraces it. The sky is the limit and words can’t really explain it. It means the world to us,” he said as he held the trophy and his Man-of-the-Match award to his chest.
“Coming into the tournament we were labelled as favourites. We put that to the side. We can be the favourites, but at the end of the day we have to come up trumps with our best cricket,” he said.
This is the fourth major international title for the West Indies. They won the inaugural Cricket World Cup in 1975 and repeated in 1979 under the captaincy of Clive Lloyd. They also beat England at the Oval in 2004 to win the ICC Champions Trophy with Brian Lara at the helm.
“In the past we had some near misses, but nevertheless, God willing, we came out on top this time around. Tonight is something be proud about. We are here today to say that West Indies cricket is back. This is T20, but it can bring a lot of fans to watch us around the world, people who still love West Indies cricket.
“We will celebrate as long as possible and enjoy the moment. This a moment to cherish, and cherish forever, but we have a lot of cricket to look forward to before the year is finished.”
During his breathtaking innings Samuels took a liking to pacer Lasith Malinga, who is rated as one of the best T20 bowlers in the world. Exactly half his runs came off Malinga, who he hit for five sixes off just 11 balls faced.
“I only faced him one time – the first game against Mumbai (in India Premier League) – and he got me out bowled,” Samuels said. “I was very upset. This was my time today to get back at him.
“Having batted most of the overs on the pitch, my advice was that it was still a challenging total. The pitch was a tough one. As long as we could get some quick wickets and put the pressure on Sri Lanka, it would work in our favour,” Samuels added.