West Indies v Australia, Super Eights, Antigua

When good-length isn't a good length

S Rajesh and HR Gopalakrishna

March 28, 2007

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Matthew Hayden crunches another drive down the ground on the way to his 158 © AFP
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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.

Other highlights

  • West Indies's 103-run defeat in this match was the first time they have been beaten by more than 100 runs in World Cups. Before this match, the widest margin by which they'd been beaten was by 73 runs, against Kenya at Pune in 1996. (Click here for West Indies' defeats in World Cups when batting second.)

  • Hayden's century is the highest by an Australian in World Cups, going past Andrew Symonds' memorable unbeaten 143 against Pakistan in 2003.

  • Hayden is also only the fourth batsman to register back-to-back hundreds in a World Cup, after Mark Waugh, Rahul Dravid and Saeed Anwar. He has also become the sixth Australian to achieve this feat in all ODIs, after Allan Border, Dean Jones, Geoff Marsh, Mark Waugh and Ricky Ponting.

  • Hayden became only the second batsman to score more than 150 against West Indies. He joins Mark Waugh, who posted 173 at Melbourne in 2001.

  • Australia's win was their 15th success in the 19 World Cup games when they have lost the toss and been put in to bat. They have also scored more than 300 on six of those 19 occasions.

  • When he didn't concede a single run in his first over, Glen McGrath took his tally of maidens overs in World Cups to 39, going past Richard Hadlee's earlier record of 38. McGrath's three wickets in this game takes his aggregate to 54, just one short of the record for most wickets in the World Cup - 55 by Wasim Akram.

  • Ricky Ponting's catch to dismiss Dwayne Bravo was his 20th in World Cups, the most by a fielder (excluding wicketkeepers).

  • Australia have now won 16 consecutive World Cup matches - they haven't lost a game since winning the 1999 final - of which 15 have been under Ponting's captaincy.

  • Denesh Ramdin became only the third West Indian wicketkeeper to score a half-century in the World Cup, after Deryck Murray and Ridley Jacobs.

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    S Rajesh Stats editor Every week the Numbers Game takes a look at the story behind the stats, with an original slant on facts and figures. The column is edited by S Rajesh, ESPNcricinfo's stats editor in Bangalore. He did an MBA in marketing, and then worked for a year in advertising, before deciding to chuck it in favour of a job which would combine the pleasures of watching cricket and writing about it. The intense office cricket matches were an added bonus.
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