MUMBAI: West Indies captain Darren Sammy said he hopes to help Caribbean fans smile again by completing a unique hat-trick at the World Twenty20 after stunning India to reach the final.
An emotional Sammy said the West Indies had their backs to the wall before shocking India by seven wickets to emulate their women’s team, who also won their semi-final hours earlier.
After the West Indies won the Under-19 World Cup in February, a double victory in Kolkata on Sunday would seal an unprecedented treble and hint at a cricketing revival for the islands after years of decline.
Sammy’s team, champions in 2012, will face England in Sunday’s men’s title match while the West Indies women will play their first World Twenty20 final against Australia.
“We came here on a mission. We were inspired by the U-19 boys earlier this year, the ladies won earlier today, now we have two West Indies team in the final,” said an emotional Sammy at the post-match presentation.
“We feel this is this West Indies team against everyone else.”
Chasing 193, the West Indies were struggling at 19 for two after losing star batsman Chris Gayle for five, when Lendl Simmons rose to the occasion to become their unlikely hero.
Fighting jetlag after flying in as a late replacement for the injured Andre Fletcher, Simmons, who survived two no-ball catches, hit an unbeaten 82 to silence a raucous crowd.
“Great great great!!! Well done Windies!!! #silence #wankhede #WestindiesvsEngland #ICCWT20 #finals proud to be West Indian,” tweeted Caribbean legend Brian Lara.
Before the match, Sammy had said the semi-final was a “David and Goliath” encounter, with more than a billion Indians willing their team to win.
The West Indies dominated cricket in the 1970s and 1980s, winning the 50-over World Cup in 1975 and 1979, but they have since fallen on hard times.
A bitter pay dispute with the West Indies Cricket Board on the eve of the tournament did not raise optimism about their chances of making an impression in the tournament.
But the former Test powerhouse defied their doubters to beat England, Sri Lanka and South Africa in the group stage and then make India eat humble pie in Thursday’s semi-final.
The women’s victory earlier also came as a surprise and captain Stafanie Taylor hoped the win would act as a catalyst for women’s cricket in the Caribbean.
“I don’t think it’s that popular,” said the destructive opening batswoman.
“If you look at Australia, they have that foundation which we’re trying to build in the West Indies. After being in the final, and I hope that we win, it might change everything in the West Indies.
“People will know more about females playing the game, which we want. We want girls coming out to play the game.”