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March 27, 2012
George Bailey, the Australia captain, has praised his bowlers for their work at the death in keeping West Indies to 150 in the first Twenty20 in St Lucia. Australia comfortably overhauled the target with eight wickets and nearly two overs to spare, and it was a fine performance considering Kieron Pollard scored a 20-ball half-century that was the fastest ever by a West Indian in a T20 international.
West Indies scored only 16 runs from their last three overs as Shane Watson and Brett Lee found just the right length to keep Pollard and his colleagues quiet. That was a pleasant change for the Australians, who in the past few couple of months have often struggled to contain teams in the later stages of innings, especially in ODIs.
"It was pretty polished," Bailey said of the all-round effort. "[The bowling was pleasing] particularly given how we finished a couple of games in the one-dayers. For the guys to have responded to that, learnt what they have, come up with plans and then execute them, I think that's really pleasing and we'll take a lot of confidence out of that.
"It was nothing too radical. We talked about a few different plans and a few different lines and a few different options. The only thing I really wanted to do today was to give myself options at the back end, in case they were going really, really hard. Then we weren't locked in to bowling particular bowlers. Having so many bowlers in the team that was the beauty of the options I had."
Bailey said Australia's all-round performance was close to their best of the tour so far, and it was the second win for Bailey from three matches since taking over as captain. The loss of David Warner in the first over of the innings created a few nerves in the Australian dressing room, but the way Watson and Michael Hussey batted, the target never looked big enough.
"You're never sure. The key is always going to be early partnerships for us and early wickets for them," Bailey said. "Losing one in the first over always puts you on edge a little bit. But I think the class of Shane and Huss, they just suit each other perfectly. Watto clears the pickets and Huss just pierces the gaps so beautifully."
Watson was named Man of the Match for his 69 and 1 for 16 from four overs, and he made a clear difference to the balance of the side having missed Bailey's first two games as captain through injury. Bailey said quality allrounders were a godsend for any T20 captain.
"It's gold to have any allrounder in your team and [especially] to have one of the quality of Watto, who can hold his own in the team as a batter or a bowler," he said. "He's so, so important to our team and it was nice for him to free himself today. His last two overs were particularly good at the death and then the clinical way he batted and the strength of clearing that fence."
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets hereFeeds: Brydon Coverdale
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