Skipper Eoin Morgan insisted Ben Stokes was not to blame for England’s World Twenty20 final defeat after West Indies all-rounder Carlos Brathwaite smashed four successive sixes in the last over to snatch an enthralling victory yesterday.
England had appeared on course for success with West Indies needing 19 off the final over, to be bowled by Stokes, after earlier posting 155-9 from their 20 overs. Joe Root top scored with 54.
West Indies, like England, recovered from a woeful start which saw them slip to 11-3, before hauling themselves over the line with two balls to spare to become the first nation to be crowned tournament winners twice.
Batsman Marlon Samuels led the West Indies revival and finished unbeaten on 85, although it was the match-winning crescendo from Brathwaite in a thrilling finale which proved decisive and left all-rounder Stokes in tears.
“It’s not his [Stokes’] fault,” said Morgan. “We’re all in this together and we have been since the start. We enjoy our wins and we all suffer with all our losses. The pain will be shared.
“It [England’s death bowling] was probably not where we lost the game. We didn’t have enough runs on the board if we’re brutally honest about it. We should have put what was par, about 180 or 190, on the board.”
England suffered an inauspicious start to their innings as explosive opener Jason Roy was snared second ball by spinner Samuel Badree, while Alex Hales and Morgan soon followed to leave the scoreboard reading 23-3.
Root and Buttler began England’s rebuilding operation with a 61-run partnership, although a steady stream of wickets stalled progress. All-rounder David Willey smacked two sixes as England mustered 155-9.
In an at times ill-tempered encounter played out in front of 66,000 fans at Eden Gardens in Kolkata, West Indies wobbled after Morgan’s decision to throw part-time spinner Root the ball second over paid dividends.
Root dismissed Johnson Charles and dangerman Chris Gayle, both caught by Stokes, while semi-final hero Lendl Simmons fell LBW to Willey before Samuels and Dwayne Bravo rescued the situation.
The duo added 75 for the fourth wicket before Bravo was snared by leg-spinner Adil Rashid and, when Andre Russell and captain Darren Sammy fell cheaply to Willey, the balance seemed to be tipping England’s way – until Brathwaite’s blitz.
Despite the agony of their galling defeat, Morgan believes a glittering white-ball future beckons for England and again cited their calamitous group-stage exit at last year’s 50-over World Cup as a marker of their progression.
Morgan added: “I truly believe this is only the start of something special. We’re forever building and looking to the future and we have a huge amount of talent to work with.”