Friday 27 June 2008 

Clarke Leads The Way As Australia Rout West Indies

Michael Clarke hit a half-century and took three wickets to lead Australia to a comprehensive Duckworth-Lewis method 63-run win over West Indies in the second Digicel One Day International in Grenada

Ricky Ponting celebrated his 300th ODI appearance with a win after his side posted 213 for five, Clarke and Michael Hussey hitting patient half-centuries, before restricting West Indies to 140 for eight in 41 overs, Clarke taking three for 26.

Originally chasing 214 to win, West Indies were 53 for six at the halfway stage and after a rain break reduced their target to 204 in 41 overs, there was no way back despite some enterprising hitting from the lower order.

Wickets fell too regularly and too easily for the home side to mount a serious challenge, despite Shivnarine Chanderpaul hitting an unbeaten 45.

The first one went from the first ball of the innings, Xavier Marshall edging Brett Lee to Luke Ronchi for a simple catch. Chris Gayle (ten) was unable to make the most of a reprieve, given not out when he edged behind, although one four smashed over midwicket off of Mitchell Johnson, the aggrieved bowler, suggested he might. It was not to be the case as in the same over, he chipped the left-armer to Ponting at mid off.

Andre Fletcher looked neat and tidy at the crease, one flourishing pull shot off of Shane Watson catching the attention, but Watson had the last laugh when he was bowled attempting a repeat for 19.

Dwayne Bravo (three) chipped Watson to Hussey at deep midwicket and Keiron Pollard lofted his second ball down the throat of Watson at long off, Michael Clarke the bowler, both men giving their wickets away.

Clarke had a huge appeal for a catch behind against Patrick Browne (one) turned down - the decision was correct, despite Ponting's vehement assertions otherwise, but two balls later, Browne edged and Cameron White took a fine catch at the second attempt at slip.

That left Chanderpaul, yet again, left to carry the West Indies and the only man, as Hussey and Clarke had done earlier, to have assessed the conditions and play as the situation demanded.

A rain delay then reduced their target to an impossible 204 in 41 overs, and needing to score at nearly two runs per ball gave the lower order license to throw the bat.

Darren Sammy (nine) fell quickly but Daren Powell entertained with two huge sixes before he was bowled by Watson for 21 from 12 deliveries while Sulieman Benn swung at everything, finishing unbeaten on 23 from 26 deliveries.

Shane Watson picked up two for 22, with Brett Lee ending the match on 299 ODI wickets.

Earlier, patient half-centuries on a slow pitch from Clarke and Hussey helped Australia recover from 35 for three to post a score of 213 for five.

Australia were 65 for three at the halfway stage, but Clarke (56 from 98 balls) and Hussey (62 from 105) put on 100 for the fourth wicket and some late blows from White ensured Australia's intelligent batting dominated the second half of the innings.

West Indies' fast bowlers put in an excellent performance, dominating the first 25 overs. Powell finished with one for 29 and Jerome Taylor two for 47 but against the less experienced bowlers, Australia were much more confident and able to score much more quickly.

Australia won the toss and chose to bat first and play finally got underway, Watson was sent back when he was trapped in front by Powell for a duck.

Shaun Marsh (12) hit one boundary before an attempted cut off of Taylor was taken behind the stumps by Browne and Taylor once again dismissed Ponting, who made 13 before Taylor's slower ball snaffled him, Gayle taking the catch at short midwicket.

Clarke and Hussey, though, refused to panic and calmly consolidated the innings before attacking in the later stages, Clarke hitting six boundaries in all and Hussey sweeping spinner Benn for six in addition to two more boundaries, but for the main, standard fare was singles cleverly angled wide of fielders.

Clarke was dropped by Benn off his own bowling, Hussey was missed by a diving Bravo at backward point and White was badly dropped in the deep by Fletcher and again late on by captain Gayle as West Indies' fielding failed to mirror the efforts of the bowling.

Clarke was trapped in front by Benn looking to work the ball on the on side while Hussey, visibly tiring during his stay at the wicket, holed out to Marshall at long on off of Bravo, who was also impressive, finishing with one for 35.

White hit three fours and was unbeaten on 40 alongside James Hopes, who made 17.

Australia now lead the series 2-0 with two matches to play, the third match taking place at the same venue in two day's time.

John Pennington
© Cricket World 2008