When Mike Gatting swept India out of the semifinal of the 1987 World Cup in Mumbai, Kolkata immediately rallied in support of England’s opponent in the final. Once Allan Border’s Australia put it past Pakistan in the other semifinal to reach the final, the Eden Gardens was decidedly pro-Aussie that November afternoon as Australia rode on its skills and the unofficial 12th man to fashion a seven-run win on its way to the first of five World Cup titles.
Conventional wisdom would therefore suggest that the shoe will be on the other foot now, that the Eden will cheer unabashedly for England, that Eoin Morgan’s men will begin as crowd favourites. When it comes to the West Indies, though, conventional wisdom always goes out the window because no matter where the side plays, it is the second-favourite team in every cricket-playing nation.
Darren Sammy and his men would love to believe that they are the underdogs, despite that stirring run in the ICC World Twenty20 2016. It’s a tack that has worked wonderfully well for the side all tournament long. The West Indies has managed to strike the perfect balance between grim determination and natural flamboyance, between simmering anger and spectacular skills, scything through the draw to find itself within one win of lifting its second ICC World T20 crown in three editions.