Australia 100-1 (Watson 41no) beat
West Indies 191-8 (Gayle 54) by 17 runs (D/L)
ICC World T20, Group B Match, Colombo
Report by Chetan Narula in Colombo
Australia went top of Group B after beating West Indies by 17 runs (by D/L method) at R Premadasa Stadium. On a rain-affected Saturday, the second match of the day was washed off towards the end, just as it began moving to an intense finish. Earlier South Africa beat Sri Lanka by 32 overs, in a seven-overs per side rain curtailed match.
West Indies won the toss and elected to bat first, perhaps to display their awesome batting prowess in this format. Chris Gayle and Dwayne Smith started watchfully against Shane Watson in the first over. The latter didn’t even last long as he was bowled by Mitchell Starc in the second for just two runs. It brought Johnson Charles to the crease and, at the other end, Gayle started to loosen up with some mighty hits against first change bowler Pat Cummins. The two put on 39 runs for the second-wicket when Daniel Christian bowled Charles for 16 runs. He faced 12 balls and hit two fours as well as one six.
The score at that moment read 47 for two in the sixth over and from there onwards, Windies assumed charge with a stroke-filled 46 run partnership between Gayle and Samuels. Of this, Samuels contributed only 12 runs as Gayle ran amok hitting a half-century off only 26 balls. The crowds, which had been absent on the first few days of the tournament, came in especially to see him bat and cheered every run scored off his bat. He provided wholesome entertainment, smacking five fours and four sixes in all.
A clever bowling change that saw Watson coming on in the 11th over provided the breakthrough. He had Gayle caught and bowled for 54 off 33 balls. But Samuels did not let the momentum go away. He started punishing the bowlers and found good company from Dwayne Bravo, who scored 27 runs off 21 balls. Samuels too completed his half-century, his 50 runs coming off 32 balls, inclusive of three fours and four sixes. Kieron Pollard (10 off eight balls, two fours) and Darren Sammy (12 off seven balls, one four, one six) provided the final flourish as West Indies put up a tall-order on the board, finishing at 191 for 8 in their 20 overs.
Watson led the way with the ball finishing with two for 29 in his four overs, while Starc ended up with three for 35 from his spell. Cummins (one for 41), Christian (one for 29) and Hogg (one for 30) were the other wicket-takers.
David Warner gave Australia a flying start, hitting three fours and two sixes in only 14 balls faced as the score raced to 30 in just 12 balls. But on the first ball of the third over, he was given out caught behind for 28 off 14 balls. Fidel Edwards was the bowler and Asad Rauf the umpire but Warner wasn’t too pleased with the decision. Mike Hussey came out to bat and took centre-stage with Shane Watson.
Together they punished the Windies attack and didn’t look like slipping up one bit. Fours and sixes were flying off their bats as the bowlers had no clue where to bowl to the duo. Gaps were picked with ease and boundaries were coming in a canter. Watson raced to 41 off only 24 balls with the help of two fours and three sixes. Hussey didn’t lag too far behind, his 28 runs coming off only 19 balls, laced with three fours and one six. The first 50 runs came up in the fifth over and after 9.1 overs, the score read 100 for 1, when the ground staff ran onto the field with covers in tow. Umpires noted this late but in time to take the players off as heavy rain came crashing down, deeming further play impossible.
Thanks to the Watson-Hussey show, the Aussies were well ahead on Duckworth-Lewis method. But the Windies will be left cursing their luck in what could have been a close finish. Instead they now have the onerous task of beating Ireland on Monday and must not slip up if the early tournament favourites want to progress to the Super Eights.
© Cricket World 2012
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