All those who remember Carlos Brathwaite's four sixes to win the World T20 in 2016 must have thought that what happened then was once-in-a-lifetime miracle. But the tall West Indian almost produced a show that would have made his 2016 heroics appear pale in comparison.
From a position of utter hopelessness, he almost took his team to one of the most amazing victories ever achieved in the history of the game. When the 7th West Indian wicket fell in their chase of a target of 292, they needed 128 runs to win. The required run rate was still not a problem because of the early assault from the likes of Chris Gayle and Shimron Hetmyer.
But the going was difficult. Kemar Roach and Brathwaite kept fighting and showed more resilience than many of the top-order batsmen. But then, Roach was dismissed and the Caribbean side reduced to 211/8. Required rate had also gone past 6/over by then.
But Brathwaite remained on track. Combining some big hits with a sensible approach, he kept Windies going. Sheldon Cottrell, despite having a very brittle technique, somehow survived as his partner trusted him to keep good deliveries out.
Then, with 7 overs remaining, Kane Williamson decided that its getting too close for comfort and decided to bowl out his two best bowlers - Trent Boult and Lockie Ferguson - in the next four. Ferguson got Cottrell out on the last ball of the 45th over. So, with 47 needed off the last 5 overs and just one wicket in hand, Brathwaite knew he had to go big or go home.
But instead of just wildly slogging, the Barbadian used his brain and decided to play the big shots only when the ball was in the slot. He safely saw out the remaining overs from Boult and Ferguson and shielded no. 11 Oshane Thomas from strike as much as possible.
Then, Williamson had to go back to Mark Henry and Jimmy Neesham for the next two overs. Brathwaite now unleashed his full power and tore apart Henry in the 48th over with three consecutive sixes followed by a four. With two overs remaining, West Indies needed just 8 to win. Brathwaite was on 99 but he wasn't going for a single. When the opportunity presented, he pulled the ball to deep midwicket for a couple, bringing up his hundred.
Now, just one six separated him from an unparalelled feat and immortality. Neesham kept bowling wide bouncers and importantly, managed to prevent them from being over shoulder high, thereby not exhausting the quota of two in the over. With one ball remaining in the penultimate over and six required, and Ian Bishop on the microphone eschewing the same sort of excitement that he did while commentating on his winning six at the 2016 World T20 final, it seemed destined for Brathwaite to achieve the glorious end to this match.
But alas, fate had to intervene! He smashed the ball high up in the air towards the region between long on and midwicket. Everyone held their breathes to see whether he has done it or not. In the end, Trent Boult took a brilliant catch on the boundary line, just inside the rope and maintain his balance to break the West Indian hearts. Brathwaite seemed shattered and a million hearts around the world, not just of West Indians, would have been too. He may not have got the victory he truly deserved but once again, earned the admiration of the entire cricket universe. Oh, for those few inches that separated Boult's foot from the boundary line! Without them, Brathwaite's epic would have had a fairytale ending.