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March 27, 2012
Australia 153 for 2 (Watson 69, M Hussey 59*) beat West Indies 150 for 7 (Pollard 54*, Christian 3-27) by 8 wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Shane Watson and Michael Hussey both scored half-centuries to set up a comfortable eight-wicket victory for Australia in the first Twenty20 in St Lucia. Kieron Pollard's 20-ball fifty, the fastest by a West Indian player in a Twenty20 international, proved to be in vain as the target of 151 was easily overhauled by the Australians with 11 balls to spare.
West Indies were left to rue their slow start, and in particular their struggle to rotate the strike in the first half of their innings after Darren Sammy won the toss and chose to bat. It was not until Pollard arrived at the crease that their run-rate started to lift but he ran out of time, finishing unbeaten on 54 from 26 deliveries, and Australia's innings was more complete than that of their opponents.
Australia lost David Warner in the first over of the chase when he tried to flick Krishmar Santokie through the leg side and was bowled by an excellent ball that angled in and then straightened, but that was the only early success for West Indies. Watson and Hussey put together a 108-run partnership that set up Australia's win, and at no stage did they let the scoring rate dip.
Watson struck six sixes in his 69 and was especially strong from midwicket to long-on. The left-arm spinner Garey Mathurin helped Watson out by overstepping and the resulting free hit was dispatched long and high over long-on, and the next over from Santokie cost 17 runs including two muscular Watson sixes.
The runs flowed with ease for Watson, whose half-century came in 38 deliveries, and at the other end Hussey was ticking the scoreboard over as well. Hussey's first six came when he lifted a Darren Sammy offcutter very high, but it was also long enough to clear long-off, and Sammy had no answers to the Watson-Hussey partnership until it was too late.
Eventually, Watson's 43-ball innings came to an end when he skied a catch to deep midwicket off Mathurin, but by then the job was all but done. Hussey brought up his fifty from his 40th delivery and clearly enjoyed the return to St Lucia, the venue of his greatest Twenty20 international achievement, his wonderful 60 not out in the semi-final of the ICC World T20 two years ago.
The next ball, Hussey was dropped at cover off the bowling of Dwayne Smith when Sammy jumped high and couldn't grasp the catch, but by then the Australians needed only 17 from 22 balls. Hussey finished unbeaten on 59 and the captain George Bailey struck the winning runs with a boundary through midwicket to end up on 17.
West Indies just didn't have enough runs on the board. Their 150 for 7 was not sufficient on a small ground and it was a shame for them that Pollard didn't have more time at the crease. The previous quickest fifty by a West Indian was Chris Gayle's 23-ball effort against Australia at The Oval during the 2009 ICC World Twenty20, and Pollard bettered that by three balls.
He struck five sixes in his first fifty runs and he brought up his half-century - his first in Twenty20 internationals - with a single pushed to the leg side when Watson got his yorker right. Pollard's highlight was an enormous six straight that landed on the roof of the stand after it flew back over the head of the bowler Xavier Doherty, and that was part of a 22-run over.
Daniel Christian was punished for getting his length slightly wrong and went for consecutive sixes over the leg side as Pollard raced towards his milestone. He had come to the crease at 66 for 3 in the 11th over after the dot balls began to pile up earlier in the innings.
Smith was the first man out, caught behind for a run-a-ball 10 when Brett Lee found some extra bounce and away movement, and he was soon followed by his opening partner Johnson Charles, who was lbw walking across the crease to Watson for 24. Nkrumah Bonner, sent in at first drop, struggled to rotate the strike and was bowled for 24 from 33 balls when he advanced to Christian and tried to force the run-rate up.
Darren Bravo also found scoring difficult after his disappointing one-day series and pulled a catch to deep midwicket off the bowling of Christian for 12. Dwayne Bravo was part of a 62-run stand with Pollard but was essentially the silent partner, falling for 14 from 11 balls when he gave Christian his third wicket by lofting a catch to long-off.
Sammy was also taken at long-off for 7 before Carlton Baugh sacrificed his wicket to be run out for 1 in the final over in an effort to give the strike to Pollard, who finished unbeaten on 54 from 26 balls. But West Indies fans were left to wonder what could have been had Pollard's team-mates shown the same urgency that he did.
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets hereFeeds: Brydon Coverdale
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