Faith is central to Darren Sammy’s life. So, maybe, it was apt that the West Indies captain strode out to the middle when his team were in need of a minor miracle.
This happened not once, but on two occasions during the current World T20. Dwayne Bravo stood by Sammy both times. Sammy is understated (if you can label a West Indian that) as compared to the flamboyant Bravo, but there have been fireworks when they have come together — on Sunday against Australia, and now, two days later, versus Pakistan.
In Tuesday’s virtual quarterfinal, even the most passionate follower of West Indian cricket would have lost hope of a semifinal berth when the West Indies were 81/5 at the end of the 14th over.
The openers, Chris Gayle and Dwayne Smith, had been dismissed cheaply after the Windies won the toss and elected to bat. Pakistan skipper Mohammad Hafeez struck a telling blow when he foxed Gayle with the turn by bowling around the wicket. There was no coming back for Gayle, standing outside the popping crease, once he missed the ball. Wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal effected the stumping. In the next over, Kamran caught Smith after medium-pacer Sohail Tanvir exploited the Barbadian’s weakness outside off-stump. Lendl Simmons and Marlon Samuels added 39 for the third wicket, but they were both dismissed in the 10th over. Ramdin, after facing nine balls for his five, tried to slog out of trouble but was caught at midwicket.
Kieron Pollard, who provides the momentum down the order, was missing. So once again it was left to Sammy and Bravo to dig them out of trouble. Sammy joined Bravo on the fifth ball of the 14th over. They had added 26 off 20 balls and at 107/5 at the end of the 17th over, there were no signs of an impending counterattack.
With eighteen balls remaining, the West Indies, doddering at just above six runs an over, would have aspired for the Bravo-Sammy partnership, which had produced 49 off 19 balls while chasing against Australia, to take them to 140 — a target not beyond them though there was no discounting the Pakistan attack.
Umar Gul and Saeed Ajmal, Pakistan’s best death-over bowlers had overs in their kitty. Gul bowled the eighteenth and Bravo scored 21 runs off the wily medium-pacer. Hafeez then placed faith in Ajmal, the off-spinner with a doosra most batsmen fail to pick. Sammy took over. Ajmal conceded 24.
Forty-five runs had been scored off 12 balls. Compared to this haemorrhage, Tavir’s final over proved to decent as only 14 was scored off six balls. In all, 82 runs were scored off the last five overs. The turnaround stunned Pakistan.
Fear of failure
Bravo and Sammy had stayed still, waited for the ball and used their continued…