Brooks stars as West Indies surprise Australia
West Indies U-19s 160 for 5 (Powell 51, Creary 45*, Jeremy Smith 2-30) beat Australia U-19s 159 (Sarna 32, Brooks 5-25, Permaul 2-18) by five wickets
The Under-19 World Cup will be formally opened tomorrow and the first round of matches kick off on Sunday. But Thursday's warm-up fixtures offered a preview of the talent on display: Sri Lanka were playing South Africa, Bermuda with Namibia, and Zimbabwe against Nepal.
The pick, though, was Australia versus West Indies. One could watch Philip Hughes, the batsman who's already played for New South Wales, perhaps spot a future West Indian tearaway fast bowler, and check out if the Australian U-19 outfit was as clinical, relatively speaking, as their national side.
The weather in Kuala Lumpur is more humid than hot and the conditions are quite sapping, especially since the tournament's schedule allows little time for rest. As it turned out, Hughes was given the day off so Australia opened with Marcus Stoinis and Kumar Sarna, the Delhi-born batsman who plays his cricket in Victoria. The openers were patient and after a slow start - 16 came off the first six overs - they had added 63 by the 15th. Sarna made 32 off 65 balls and Stoinis 22 off 48. They were the only batsmen to pass 20 as Australia collapsed and lost ten wickets for 96 to finish on 159.
So which fast-bowler wrecked Australia? Larry Gomes, the coach, had said that all the three quicks had the attributes necessary to grow into good fast bowlers. Jason Dawes wasn't express pace but bowled a testing line and length, as did Dawnley Grant. And when you look at Delorn Johnson, his tall physique and long arms give away what he offers to the side. So which of the three was it? Was there an individual that stood out or was it a pack-attack?
There was a stand-out performance but it came from a spinner- the West Indies captain Sharmarh Brooks - who picked up 5 for 25 off 9.2 overs with his legbreaks. Brooks, who plays for Barbados, varied his flight and pace cleverly and several Australian batsmen holed out as they tired to clear the boundaries. Brooks received solid support from left-arm orthodox bowler Veerasammy Permaul and the offspinner Steven Jacobs, who is his deputy. Permaul took 2 for 18 off his seven overs while Jacobs had 1 for 29 off his ten, giving the spinners a total of eight wickets to the fast bowlers' one (one batsman was run out).
Adrian Barath, who plays for Trinidad and Tobago, was another batsman to watch. Gomes said he's not been in the best of form of late and wasn't feeling 100% fit either. However, it was Kieran Powell who impressed the most today. Powell is a tall left-hand opening batsman who hits the ball powerfully. One shot stood out: Powell drove the ball straight and so hard that the sound of the ball hitting bat made heads turn. Most were too late for the ball was already nearing the boundary ropes. Powell finished with 51 and his attacking start had set the platform for a successful run chase.
Australia opened their bowling with a four-pronged pace attack: Jeremy Smith and James Pattinson shared the new ball while David King and James Faulkner came on first and second change. The first spinner on display for Australia was the left-arm orthodox bowler from Victoria, Clive Rose, who had Powell caught at mid-on in his second over. West Indies then lost a few batsmen in quick time but chased down the target with five wickets in hand.
Beating Australia, albeit in a practice match, was a huge boost to West Indies, who also beat Sri Lanka in their first warm-up fixture. "It will be difficult to pick a final XI," said Gomes. "I prefer to be in that position."
George Binoy is a staff writer at Cricinfo