England and West Indies will attempt to make history when they contest the World Twenty20 final at the iconic Eden Gardens in Kolkata on Sunday.
No team has won the competition more than once since its inception in 2007.
England are stepping into a cauldron, and in more ways than one. As Morgan’s men practised on the outfield at the fabled Eden Gardens, perspiration raining down from their helmets and caps, alongside them a phalanx of volunteers was assembling the vast pink victory podium for the presentation ceremony. Several of the England players allowed themselves a glance, perhaps wondering whether they would be leaping upon it in triumph or skulking off stage right, clutching unwanted medals.
So far have they come, this bold and brilliant England side, and yet so far have they still to go. Forty long overs, under the highest imaginable pressure, separate them from a triumph that would rank alongside anything this country has achieved in the sport. Ashes wins are common as the cold these days. The World Twenty20 success in 2010 was remarkable, unexpected and yet curiously bloodless, a case of cleverly exploiting an evolving format with a superb containment strategy. The shortest format has made giant leaps in six years, and mastering it anew – in India! – would be a genuinely seminal moment for English cricket.
“We know it’s not going to be a normal game. Even in the semi-final, there was quite a lot of hype around the expectation of playing in a final” England’s Eoin Morgan says. “I want all of our players to embrace it. Everything’s going to feel a little bit rushed to start with. It’s important that we’re in a really good frame of mind to slow things down when needed and more importantly execute our skills.
“Given the strides we have made in the last 12 months in white-ball cricket, I think this would be a great reward for the mindset we’ve shown, the dedication and the hard work we’ve put in.”
West Indies skipper Darren Sammy says: “England is a team we respect. We know the calibre of players they have in the dressing room – they have a lot of match-winners as well.
“But we tend to focus on what we can do on the cricket field and as a group we believe that once we do what we know we can it is going to be difficult to defeat us.
“Since that loss to us, England have moved in leaps and bounds – that’s why they are in the final. I always want cricket to be the winner and hope the fans are entertained and it will be a very exciting match, but at the end I just want West Indies to be victorious.”
Australia face West Indies in the women’s final.