Windies revel with high-spirited party
Local press lashes Lankan ‘chokers’
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AFP) — West Indies cricketers partied through the night yesterday after their triumph in the World Twenty20, as defeated hosts Sri Lanka cursed yet another "choke" in a final.
Chris Gayle, the West Indies' star batsman, and his teammates earned a fun-loving reputation during the tournament, and victory in the final triggered further outbreaks of the "Gangnam" dance craze that the players adopted.
"I want to know who (is) bringing me breakfast this morning? I'm still up and ready to replay the T-20 final tonight," Gayle tweeted on Monday morning, joking that he felt like "running a marathon".
The win on Sunday night in Colombo gave the West Indies their first world title since the 50-over World Cup triumph under Clive Lloyd in 1979, although they won the invitational Champions Trophy in England in 2004.
Gayle, one of the world's most feared batsmen, only scored three runs in the game, handing Sri Lanka a major opportunity to seize control until man of the match Marlon Samuels made 78 runs off 56 balls.
The victorious team — captained by Darren Sammy — celebrated with a high-spirited party that started in the banquet hall of the luxury Cinnamon Grand hotel in Colombo with a cake in the shape of the trophy.
"They were very happy. They had a lot of fun singing and dancing," a Sri Lankan official who was with the West Indies team told AFP. "It was a private affair and no outsiders were invited or allowed in."
A hotel employee who declined to be named said the party went on until the early hours of Monday, with armed guards providing security and keeping fans away.
"I'm feeling strong, wonder which wrestler I should take in a wrestling match?" tweeted Gayle, who has 300,000 Twitter followers. He finally signed off on Monday morning, saying he had to pack.
Gayle reinforced his party-boy image earlier in the tournament when police bodyguards broke up a party in his hotel as he and fellow players entertained three British female fans.
Some downhearted Sri Lankan players were also spotted at the Cinnamon Grand after the final as they tried to come to terms with defeat in the biggest cricket game ever held in the island nation.
The local press was equally distraught over the result, with criticism focused on the team's record of crumbling under pressure.
Millions of fans had prayed that Mahela Jayawardena's side would not choke again, but the outcome was the fourth defeat for Sri Lanka in major tournament finals since 2007.
"Silence of the Lion," said the privately run Ceylon Today. "West Indies carry out their threat and dance on a Sri Lankan graveyard."
"Samuels pummels chokers," said the Daily Mirror in a reference to Samuels' destructive innings that led to the home side's defeat by 36 runs.
"Sri Lanka strengthened their tag as the big-game chokers, losing to the same team they crushed by nine wickets with 28 balls to spare in the Super Eight round," the paper added.
The Island newspaper singled out Lasith Malinga, who gave away 54 runs in four overs and collected no wickets.
"The best bowler in the shortest form of the game miserably failed to live up to expectations in the biggest cricket spectacle hosted in (Sri Lanka's) history," it said.
Sri Lanka had started off well and it was "heartbreaking" for 35,000 fans inside the stadium, the paper said.