West Indies last won a World Cup in 1979. Since then it has been decades of decline, despair and disillusionment in the Caribbean. The team dominated Tests in an era when there were no ICC rankings. In fact after the rankings system were introduced, they have languished at the bottom in all forms of the game.
Their solitary high was the ICC Champions Trophy, which they won in 2004. But that hasn’t the same respect as a WC. In fact, Wisden dubbed it a "turkey of a tournament" and a "fiasco"!
But now, after 33 long years, West Indies have finally won a World Cup! It’s like a monsoon after 33 seasons of drought.
They were the only team to cross 175 thrice in an otherwise low-scoring tournament (Pakistan, for example, scored their lowest WC score with India and then later broke that record with Sri Lanka).
The semi-final was a revelation. Thanks to a blistering 75 runs off 41 balls by Chris Gayle, the Windies posted a formidable 205/4 and crushed the Aussies. Both Gayle and Samuels made more than 200 runs in the tournament.
But the final was a revelation. At the end of 11 overs, they were languishing at 38/2. Then the acceleration came and in the last 9 overs they scored a whopping 99 runs to post a competitive 137/6 thanks to a blistering 78 runs off 56 balls by Marlon Samuels.
They won comprehensively by 36 runs in the end. And to think that the West Indies batsmen scored just one run off the bat in the first three overs!
Sri Lanka were never in the game from the beginning and started losing wickets from the very first over.
You also got to give it to captain Darren Sammy, who seems to have turned his team’s luck around. In Tests he managed to tie a Test series with Pakistan and beat New Zealand 2-0. In ODIs also he’s won 17 ODIs, which is the highest since Carl Hooper, who took over the captaincy in 1996.
And in T20s, he’s won them the World Cup! The T20 format is giving a lot of solace to countries which have not been doing well in ODI World Cups. In the last edition, England won their first ever world cup and now the Windies have won after 33 years.
You have to give him a lot of credit considering the fact that greats like Brian Lara, Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Chris Gayle could not revive their team’s fortunes. Sammy has lost less than half of the T20 internationals that he has played, rare for the West Indies team of the last 10 years.
India should take a cue from the likes of Gayle and Samuels and stop being conservative and start hitting out. Explosive batsmen like MS Dhoni and Virender Sehwag have totally flopped in the international T20 format. India did not even register one 175 or more score, something that even Bangladesh achieved in the tournament.
The focus has also sharply shifted to Sri Lanka, which has now emerged as the best second best team in the history of cricket.
If you look at the five consistent teams in Test cricket, then Australia, South Africa, India and England have achieved the ICC No. 1 ranking. Sri Lanka have never been able to cross the No. 2 mark. In fact many years back, when they had to beat India to capture the No. 1 rankings, they got beaten by us 0-2 instead. India became No. 1 and stayed there for 20 months.
In ODIs also, Sri Lanka made it to the finals of the 2007 WC only to be thrashed by Australia. In 2011 also they made it to the WC final and posted a very competitive target of 275 with India and still got thrashed.
The same thing has happened in the T20 format. In 2009, they lost with Pakistan in the 39th over of the final. But 2012 was even more heart-breaking. At one stage it looked like the Windies would not even make cross 110-120, but still they escaped with a competitive target of 138.
The disheartening part was that the strong batting line-up became totally undone and they never even looked to be chasing the modest total, collapsing for 101 in the end.
If South Africa are the chokers of the World Cup stage, Sri Lanka have become the new chokers of the finals.Also see:King Kohli now rules all 3 realmsTeam India still has a lot to cheer about!More ColumnsThe author is a Bengaluru-based journalist and blogger.
He blogs at http://sunilrajguru.com