West Indian juggernaut rolls on
Fiery Gayle takes Australians apart as Sammy’s men set up final date with hosts Sri Lanka
The much-talked about West Indian batting might hit the Australians with the force of a tsunami as the Caribbeans stormed into their maiden World T20 final here at the R Premadasa stadium on Friday night.
Opting to bat first, the West Indies buried the Australians under an avalanche of runs – 205 for four – that mocked at the supposed slow nature of the surface. After notching up tournament’s first 200 total, the West Indies restricted the mighty Australian batting to 131 all out in 16.4 overs to pull off a famous 74-run win. They will now take on hosts Sri Lanka in Sunday’s summit clash, both eyeing their first World T20 title.
Chasing a target as big as this one -- built on man of the match Chris Gayle’s bruising knock (75 n.o., 41b, 5x4, 6x6) and some astonishing hitting from Kieron Pollard (38, 15b, 3x4, 3x6) in the final over -- Australia needed their openers to give them a sound start.
But all they could manage was a second collapse in as many contests, exposing their frailties against spin. For Australia even to come anywhere near the total, they needed meaty contributions from the blades of openers Shane Watson and David Warner, two players capable of matching the West Indian batsmen’s ability to clear the ropes.
The fearsome opening duo could last just 12 balls between it to give a head start to the West Indies. In between Michael Hussey had flickered briefly and gone, leaving Australia at a sorry 29/3 inside five overs.
Leg-spinner Samuel Badree did the damage, cleaning up both the openers, while Marlon Samuels accounted for Hussey. Once the in-form top three were gone, it was a mere formality. Skipper George Bailey (63, 29b, 6x4, 4x6) played a lone hand which proved woefully inadequate on the day. The Calypso Caravan, which now dances to the tune of Gangnam Style, emphatically drove home a point that the pre-tournament predictions about them weren’t misplaced.
Gayle was back and he was back with full force. The southpaw batted with such confidence and conviction that you wondered if it was the same player who was under scanner just about 48 hours ago after the police picked up a few a girls from his hotel room. If anything, the southpaw only appeared even more fired up and the Aussie bowlers bore the full fury of it.
Having been denied much of the strike – he faced just six balls in the first four overs – Gayle began his assault only towards the end of the fifth over when he deposited Watson over long-off fence for the first of his half-a-dozen sixes.
The first half of the West Indian innings moved at a somewhat sluggish pace before it gathered full steam with Gayle reeling off one big hit after another.
There was, however, some method in Gayle’s madness. He was brutal but not reckless, carefully picking the bowlers and even more crucially the deliveries to begin with. Once he got his eye in, the onslaught became more frequent.
It didn’t matter whether the ball came at 140 or at 80 kph nor did it bother him whether it swung or turned, the leather just disappeared into the dark skies once it left the bat. A suspected abdominal muscle strain mid-way through his innings did restrict his big heaves but not alarmingly so.
Besides Gayle, two more batsmen came up with useful cameos – Dwayne Bravo (37, 31b, 1x4, 3x6) and Marlon Samuels 26 (20b, 2x4, 2x6) – but it was Pollard who provided a stunning assault in the final over by Xavier Doherty.
The big-built right-hander hammered the left-arm spinner for three consecutive sixes, one bigger than the other, as the 25-run over left the Aussies completely demoralised even before they could begin their chase.
Charles c Wade b Starc 10
Gayle (not out) 75
(41b, 5x4, 6x6)
Samuels b Cummins 26
(20b, 2x4, 2x6)
Dwayne c Bailey b Cummins 37
(31b, 1x4, 3x6)
Pollard c Warner b Doherty 38
(15b, 3x4, 3x6)
Extras (B-6, LB-5, W-8) 19
Total (for 4 wkts, 20 overs) 205
Fall of wickets: 1-16 (Charles), 2-57 (Samuels), 3-140 (Dwayne), 4-205 (Pollard).
Bowling: Starc 4-0-32-1 (w-7), Watson 4-0-35-0, Cummins 4-0-36-2 (w-1), Doherty 3-0-48-1, Hogg 3-0-21-0, D Hussey 2-0-22-0.
Runs during Power Play: 1-6 overs: 46/1.
Warner b Badree 1
Watson b Badree 7
M Hussey c&b Samuels 18
White c Ramdin b Rampaul 5
Bailey c Russell b Pollard 63
(29b, 6x4, 4x6)
D Hussey c&b Rampaul 0
Wade c Badree b Narine 1
Cummins c Charles b Pollard 13
Starc b Rampaul 2
Hogg st Ramdin b Narine 7
Doherty (not out) 9
Extras (LB-3, W-2) 5
Total (all out, 16.4 overs) 131
Fall of wickets: 1-2 (Warner), 2-22 (M Hussey), 3-29 (Watson), 4-42 (White), 5-42 (D Hussey), 6-43 (Wade), 7-111 (Bailey), 8-111 (Cummins), 9-121 (Hogg).
Bowling: Badree 4-0-27-2, Samuels 3-0-26-1 (w-1), Rampaul 3.4-0-16-3 (w-1), Narine 3-0-17-2, Russell 1-0-25-0, Sammy 1-0-11-0, Pollard 1-0-6-2. Runs during Power Play: 1-6 overs: 42/3.