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March 28, 2007
For the second time in successive games, opposition teams felt the heat of a Matthew Hayden blast as Australia powered their way to their sixth 300-plus score in a row (click here for their previous five). The streak is a record - obliterating Sri Lanka's five in succession last year - as is their five consecutive 300-plus scores in World Cups. Australia have struggled to defend huge totals recently, but there were no hiccups this time, thanks to some early wickets upfront and an outstanding opening spell from Nathan Bracken.
Though he didn't take any wickets, Bracken was largely instrumental in ensuring that West Indies only 22 on the board after 12 overs. In his first six overs, Bracken went for just five runs as he completely stifled the West Indians with his impeccable control over length - of the 36 deliveries he bowled, 35 pitched on a good length. Even Chris Gayle could manage just a single from the 16 balls he faced from Bracken.
If the good-length delivery was the perfect way to deny the West Indians any runs, it didn't quite work that way when Australia batted, thanks primarily to Hayden. Of the 77 such balls he faced from the West Indian seamers, he creamed 76 runs, mostly by advancing down the pitch and smashing the drives down the ground. Just like the match against South Africa, the feature of Hayden's knock was his strokeplay in the V between mid-off and mid-on: as many as 76 of his 158 runs came in that region.
West Indies have usually relied on their slow men to stifle the opposition, but that strategy didn't pay off against the Aussies. Chris Gayle went at more than seven per over, while Marlon Samuels leaked more than six, and together they went for 87 from 13 overs. Gayle's ineffectiveness also meant Brian Lara couldn't go to him in the closing overs, a period of play when he is usually so effective with his flat offspinners. Lara was forced to return to his fast bowlers and none of them did an impressive job. Daren Powell, Jerome Taylor and Corey Collymore bowled five of the last ten overs, and went for 55.
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