Australia v West Indies, World T20, Group 2, Mirpur March 28, 2014

Sammy pulls off West Indies' best chase


West Indies 179 for 4 (Gayle 53) beat Australia 178 for 8 (Maxwell 45, Narine 2-19) by 6 wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

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Cullinan: Australia's pace attack not strong enough

West Indian batting power ejected Australia from the previous World T20 in Sri Lanka and has all but done so again after Darren Sammy pulled off a remarkable heist in Mirpur. Chris Gayle gave West Indies a blazing start to their chase of 179 but they spluttered in the middle and Australia were firm favourites when George Bailey handed the ball to Mitchell Starc with 31 still needed from the final two overs.

Sammy had other ideas. A half-volley was smashed over long-on for six, a flick was finessed to the fine-leg boundary and another four was slashed behind point, and Starc's inability to land the ball in the right spots meant 19 runs had leaked from his over, leaving 12 required off the final six balls. Importantly, Sammy was on strike, though his partner Dwayne Bravo had contributed plenty to the chase with 27 off 12 deliveries.

Two yorkers from James Faulkner gave Bailey reason to breathe easier, but Sammy followed those with a six crunched over long-off from a full toss and another six down the ground to secure the six-wicket win with two balls to spare. Sammy threw his arms up in the air to celebrate and well he might have, for his 34 off 13 balls was the reason West Indies managed the highest successful chase in their T20 international history.

Australia were shattered by the loss, which left them winless from their first two games. Even victories in their remaining matches against India and Bangladesh may well be inadequate to progress to the semi-finals. It has been a harsh lesson for a side who entered the tournament as favourites with five wins from their past five games - notably, all in faster, more familiar conditions. Here their batsmen again struggled against spin.

Not that their total of 178 for 8 was unable to be defended; on the contrary, they must have felt confident at the change of innings, even more so after Shane Watson sent down a maiden for the first over of the chase to Dwayne Smith. After that, though, it was the Gayle show. His first ball was a pearler from Starc, angling in and straightening past the outside edge, but that was about the only time Gayle looked troubled.

Four fours followed later in that same over and the old Gayle magic was back. He clipped Doug Bollinger over square leg for six and continued to strike the ball cleanly in all directions, taking 40 from his first 14 deliveries. Smith edged behind off Starc for 17 but Gayle was the worry for Australia, and after his brisk start he settled down into a more run-a-ball mode, moving to his half-century from 31 balls.

At times he was walking singles, such was the ease with he appeared to be taking things, but on 53 he sent a catch to deep midwicket off James Muirhead and the fate of the match looked as if it may have changed on that one stroke. The runs began to dry up, Lendl Simmons was caught in the deep for 26 and Marlon Samuels used up 15 balls for his 12 before he was brilliantly taken by Brad Haddin diving to his right off Starc.

It was the last good thing Starc did for the match - Bravo clubbed him for six later in that over, and then it was the Sammy show. Those two final overs were fatal to Australia in this match, but their lack of big runs from their top three batsmen has also hurt them in both games.

As they had in the loss to Pakistan, Australia again relied on Maxwell to rebuild the innings after the top three struggled against quality spin. This time, David Warner and Aaron Finch at least made starts but they fell in consecutive overs while trying to force the pace - Finch was bowled for 16 attempting a slog sweep off Samuels and Samuel Badree's skidder took middle stump to end Warner's innings on 20.

Watson failed to get going for the second consecutive game, this time stumped for 2 from eight balls when Sunil Narine turned one past the bat. Denesh Ramdin was hardly crisp behind the stumps but such was Watson's apparent lack of awareness that his back foot was on the line that Ramdin was able to miss the bails on his first attempt at breaking them, then knock them off at the second try and still find Watson short.

When Bailey sent a catch to midwicket off Samuels for 12, Australia were in a spot of bother at 77 for 4, and it looked like spin could be their undoing in a tournament played in turning conditions. But Maxwell showed against Pakistan that such bowling does not worry him, and here he followed 16 off a Sammy over with a couple more sixes, slog swept off Samuels and crunched over extra cover off Badree.

There was no crazily fast half-century for Maxwell as there had been against Pakistan, but his 45 from 22 - he pulled a catch to deep midwicket off Badree - at least put Australia on the path to a competitive total. Brad Hodge, who entered the match as Twenty20's leading run scorer of all time, had enough experience to steer the innings up towards the 150 mark, his 35 ending only when he tried to reverse sweep Narine and was bowled.

The lower order added a few boundaries to get the total up to 178 for 8 but it was not enough. West Indies now have every chance of advancing to the semi-finals and maybe defending their title, won in Sri Lanka in 2012 after Gayle monstered Australia in the semi-final with 75 off 41 balls. Australia will almost certainly fly home next week wondering how on earth they can win this elusive trophy. Perhaps if Gayle retires before the next tournament they might have some chance.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on April 2, 2014, 19:53 GMT

    I love Cricket and most of all T20. We love the West Indies, good game!!!

  • Richard on April 2, 2014, 4:01 GMT

    Posted by SL-USA-Lions on (March 29, 2014, 1:03 GMT) Cricket is a Gentleman's game...

    On which planet?

  • RAVINDER on March 30, 2014, 7:46 GMT

    I am not AUS fan but I must admit these two matches were really close and could have gone either way just like the India's two matches in the recently held Asia cup against SL and PAK. AUS should not loose heart coz they did not play bad cricket to loose. However i must say that Faulkner should not have made such a comment. Infact none of player of any team should make such personal comment like Warner did against Trott and now Faulkner against Gayle.I had become a great fan of him due to his performance in IPL with RR,against Ishant and later England but due to his remarks against Gayle I have changed my mind. AUS should know that hard crciket is played with bat and ball in your hand and not with mouth. Then they can make many fans like me coz of their never say die attitude and talent they produce.

  • Ashok on March 30, 2014, 5:04 GMT

    In all fairness, Australia played magnificently. It was just a case of unnecessary barbs thrown at the opposition coming back to haunt them. But once the dust settles, the Australians will have to confront the harsh reality that outside of pacy, bouncy pitches they have been a strictly average side. A 0-7 record in their nine latest tests on slow wickets is comparable to that of India, who have been just as dominant in home conditions.

  • Dummy4 on March 30, 2014, 1:34 GMT

    Interesting comments here. Aust. can still win but they need to get going soon or it'll all be over. I think they're the best side in the world in Test cricket anywhere, with perhaps the exception of India. Australia needs more quality spinners to compete there. T-20 is different - anyone with some quality about their players can win this. But as in every other sport, the cream always rises to the top.

  • Basil on March 30, 2014, 0:49 GMT

    Too much doom and gloom. Let's put it into perspective. 5-0 Ashes win over England, 2-1 Test win over no1 team SA in SA, No1 ranking in ODI cricket v Two narrow T20 losses. I wonder if WI would like to trade in there 1 win for that record? I love WI but let's get things in perspective.

  • Dummy4 on March 29, 2014, 23:53 GMT

    The test of championship (and a repeat) for West Indies will be how they respond to the good spin bowlers of Pakistan. Have they learned from that farce against India? The answer will be known in a matters of hours.

  • D on March 29, 2014, 20:26 GMT

    If Australian players genuinely don't care about the T20 or ODI WC there are 9 other nations that are delighted to hear this. Keep up it the excellent work Australia!

  • Dummy4 on March 29, 2014, 16:06 GMT

    OMG, talk about being a sore loser. Your team lost so now t-20 cricket is just rubbish that anyone can play. Well if anyone can play it then Australia should be amazing at it since little to no skill required? You can bash t20 all you want but its the format that will most likely get the sport global recognition, maybe a spot in the Olympics. You can't expect cricket to be a global sport if only 10 countries are allowed to play it seriously. The only reason why its the second most popular sport is because its big in India and that gives you a billion people at your disposal. If they were checking by countries cricket would be less popular that netball. t20 is the future. you can sit and complain about it or you can can get your house in order. AUS should have had more spinners. plain and simple.

  • Roy on March 29, 2014, 14:44 GMT

    Congrats WI!! Well played guys...maybe the WI team need a little tough love from their opposition before each game to get them fired up.

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