Watson steers Australia into Super Eights
Australia 100 for 1 (Watson 41*) beat West Indies 191 for 8 (Gayle 54, Samuels 50, Starc 3-35) by 17 runs (D/L method)
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Another fine all-round effort from Shane Watson steered Australia into the Super Eights as they claimed a Duckworth-Lewis victory over West Indies in Colombo. Chris Gayle and Marlon Samuels both scored quick half-centuries to put up a hefty score of 191 but a strong start from Australia, who reached 100 for 1, was enough to ensure they were ahead when the rain started bucketing down in the tenth over of the chase.
On a day when South Africa and Sri Lanka's match was reduced to an absurd seven-over-a-side battle, this game had all the ingredients for a thriller until the weather intervened. Australia were pursuing what would have been the fifth-highest successful run chase in T20 international history, while West Indies at the halfway mark appeared well-placed to open their campaign with a victory. They must now defeat Ireland on Monday to join Australia in the next stage.
The second over of Australia's innings set them on the path to victory as David Warner took 22 off Ravi Rampaul, including sixes from an upper cut and a pull, as well as two fours. Warner fell in the next over for 28, unhappy to be given out caught behind driving at Fidel Edwards, but he had given Australia the lightning start they needed in such a big chase. Michael Hussey came to the crease and crunched Darren Sammy over wide long-on for six, and then Watson took control.
He was eased in thanks to a free-hit against Sunil Narine, which was duly slog-swept for six, and Marlon Samuels also felt the brunt of Watson's force in an over that cost 22. It included consecutive sixes - the second a flat pull that fizzed through the hands of Dwayne Smith at deep midwicket and lobbed over the boundary, which could have turned out to be a costly drop. As it was, Watson moved on to 41 not out and Hussey was on 28 when the rain came, and Australia were well ahead on Duckworth-Lewis.
It was a shame for West Indies that they didn't get the full opportunity to defend their strong score, set up by Gayle and Samuels. But both men fell soon after reaching their half-centuries and Australia's bowlers did just enough to keep their side in the match. Watson (2 for 29) picked up the key wicket of Gayle for 54, having dropped him on 4, and he also removed Kieron Pollard to help slow West Indies' momentum towards the end of their innings.
Things started well for Australia as Mitchell Starc struck in the second over, bowling Dwayne Smith for 2 with a wonderful inswinger that took the top of off stump. The next over was a maiden from Pat Cummins as Johnson Charles looked all at sea and struggled to lay bat on the swinging ball, and at 11 for 1 from three overs Australia were thrilled with the opening.
But their plans started to fall apart in the fourth over when Gayle, who was yet to score a boundary, tried to launch Starc down the ground and succeeded only in skying a leading edge to third man, where Watson ran in and dropped a difficult chance while diving forward. Charles pummelled the next ball for six over wide long-on and Gayle wasn't far behind him.
Gayle found the boundary for the first time with a slice over point for four off Cummins and he took 18 off the over, with a couple more fours and a six pulled over square leg. In typical Gayle fashion he had allowed himself a few overs to acclimatise and then swiftly moved into top gear. He lost his partner Charles for 16 when Daniel Christian gained some extra bounce and the ball ricocheted off the glove and onto the stumps.
But the runs kept coming for Gayle, who lifted Brad Hogg over long-on for six with a nonchalant push and then greeted the offspinner Glenn Maxwell with another six over long-on from his first ball. Seventeen came off that Maxwell over, the last four from an inside edge that whizzed past the leg stump and the wicketkeeper for four and gave Gayle his half-century from 26 balls.
He eventually fell for 54 when a short of good length delivery from Watson seamed away and Gayle's leading edge was caught by the bowler running into the off side. For a couple of overs the runs slowed, until Samuels found his touch. He launched a couple of sixes, one impressively over the off side from the bowling of Christian, and then cleared the boundary twice in two balls against Watson.
Samuels' half-century came from 31 balls but he didn't add to his score, caught at long-on for 50 from the bowling of Hogg. Watson picked up Pollard for 10 and Bravo was bowled by Cummins for 27 but West Indies had enough depth to keep the runs coming, albeit not quite as quickly as they had earlier. Starc picked up two late wickets, including Sammy for 11, to finish with 3 for 35.
In the end, the weather meant West Indies' efforts were in vain. They entered the tournament as one of the favourites, and must now see off Ireland in order to progress to the Super Eights.
Readers in the USA, Caribbean and South America can watch highlights of the match here.
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here