Brutal Pollard helps West Indies take series lead
West Indies 294 for 7 (Pollard 102, Barath 41) beat Australia 252 all out (Lee 59, Hussey 57) by 42 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Kieron Pollard at his most brutal left Australia with an insurmountable challenge at the Beausejour Stadium in St Lucia as West Indies took a 2-1 lead with one to play in an ODI series that is rivalling their wildest dreams. Pollard produced a memorable display of power hitting, 102 slugged from 70 balls to vanquish an Australian side that West Indies had come to regard as virtually unbeatable.
After a demoralising run against Australia of 13 defeats in 14 ODIs (the other being a no-result), West Indies now have two wins and a tie from their last three games. No side had ever scored more on this ground batting second than West Indies' 284 for 5 to beat England in 2004 and Australia had little chance to buck the trend once they had lost half their side for 112.
That they got so close owed much to a considered half-century by David Hussey and a wrathful late assault by Brett Lee, who was struck on the arm by a beamer from Kemar Roach and, despite fulsome apologies, was sore enough in mind and body to take 24 from Roach's next over, following three fours with two sixes flayed over long-on.
When Lee struck Andre Russell down the ground for two successive sixes, he surpassed his highest ODI score of 57, in his 216th match - and Russell had done nothing to vex him at all. Roach finally got his man in his final over, last out, caught at long-off, with 22 balls remaining.
Pollard had reached his hundred in the final over of West Indies' innings when he slugged a short ball from Lee over midwicket for six, a shot that looked as ponderous as it was effective. It was only his second ODI hundred in 55 attempts (he had only passed 50 four times before), but his threat is growing as an ODI average rising from 19 to 26 in the last year testifies. "It's only one of two," Pollard said. "I'm just trying to learn my craft. Some of those sixes I didn't middle."
West Indies' innings, stagnating for long periods, finished in a mood of revelry. They took 23 from the final over from Lee, Darren Sammy rounding things off with 31 not out in 13 balls as if he briefly imagined himself Pollard reincarnate.
Shane Watson's decision to bowl first was out of character for an Australian captain. Perhaps the excitement of the journey north to St Lucia got the better of him as Australia finally escaped the slow surfaces of St Vincent. Instead, on a surface offering more pace and bounce - disconcertingly steep bounce on occasions - they ran into Pollard's meaty destruction. "I wouldn't do anything differently," said Watson. "Pollard was impressive, no doubt. It was a beautiful wicket, but if we had taken our catches it would help."
After 39 overs, West Indies were 160-5, four overs of a Powerplay had brought only 15 runs and their innings was close to stagnation. Then Watson, whose seven overs had cost only 15, conceded 17 runs from his eighth as Pollard moved into overdrive. He had a lively ally in Andre Russell during a sixth-wicket stand of 94 in 11 overs that changed the complexion of the match.
Pollard had his moments of good fortune and most of them involved Peter Forrest. Like most touring cricketers, he might not have known the whereabouts of St Lucia in relation to St Vincent but his sense of direction was equally lacking when it came to the exact position of the boundary rope at deep backward square.
Pollard was only 15 when a venomous, flat pull flew through Forrest's hands as he came in a couple of yards closer than he had to. Another mishit against Lee on 24 narrowly evaded David Hussey as he sprinted back at midwicket. Much punishment later, Xavier Doherty dropped a simple chance; and Forrest might also have caught Pollard on 81, but it required several TV replays before the third umpire, Kumar Dharmasena, decided that Forrest's catch was illegal. It was hard to tell whether Forrest's boot had brushed the rope but in any event his decision to throw the ball back infield as his momentum carried him over the rope was a lackadaisical effort.
Pollard can destroy a fielding side's bearings. He blocks more balls than most, but when he hits, he hits so powerfully that his blocking becomes irrelevant. Even when he did not quite middle a pull against Watson, late in his innings, leaning back like a boxer on the ropes, it careered for six over long-on, an area where he got roughly half his runs.
Johnson Charles' innings was made of different stuff. He is only the second cricketer from St Lucia to represent West Indies and was playing in front of his home crowd for the first time. He was angsty, understandably so, needing 30 balls to reach double figures. He encouraged the crowd into excitement with a straight six against Clint McKay but fell for 37 soon after the mid-point, holing out at long-on to an unusual dancing catch by Lee.
Adrian Barath, back in the side after a hundred for Trinidad against Guyana a week ago, provided early impetus with nine fours in all in his 41 from 31 balls. But Marlon Samuels' contribution was excruciating and Dwayne Bravo fell first ball.
Australia's reply malfunctioned as early as the second over when David Warner, one of the few batsmen capable of matching Pollard's slugging style, spooned a drive against Dwayne Bravo to mid-on.
Watson played smoothly for a while, only to pull Darren Sammy's loosener to mid-on. Sammy's short ball, not often regarded as devilish, enjoyed further spoils in his next over when Charles plunged forward at third man to hold a top-edged hook from Forrest and leave for ice pack treatment on a damaged shoulder.
If Sammy's breakthroughs frustrated Australia, two wickets in an over for Russell would have irked them even more. Russell, defying a knee complaint, could barely muster a limping celebration as he first had George Bailey caught at the wicket, cutting, and then two balls later defeated Mike Hussey's attempted pull.
Edited by Alan Gardner
David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo