Fidel Edwards and Marlon Samuels bowled West Indies to a 14-run victory to draw the Twenty20 series 1-1 in Barbados. Dwayne Smith and Johnson Charles started the day with a strong, aggressive opening partnership and despite Australia's bowlers fighting back to dismiss West Indies for 160, it proved to be sufficient for the hosts as Australia's batsmen stalled in the chase after David Warner's quick opening.
Too much was left for the final few overs for Australia, who needed 50 from the last five overs and then 19 from the last six balls, bowled by Dwayne Bravo. David Hussey was the only specialist batsmen left at the crease but he couldn't launch the boundaries required off Bravo, who picked up two wickets in that final over as Australia fell well short of their target.
Hussey was caught at deep midwicket for 19 trying to clear the boundary and Clint McKay was bowled next ball by Bravo, who finished with 2 for 27 from his four overs and changed the course of the match by running out Warner with a direct hit from side-on. Warner was hurrying back for a second run when Bravo, who had run in from the midwicket boundary, threw down the stumps at the striker's end and it was the pivotal moment in the chase.
Warner was on 58 from 43 balls and had threatened to steer Australia home, but after he departed Australia lost momentum. Hussey and Matthew Wade managed a couple of sixes but they were barely treading water with the required run-rate at ten an over, and things became even harder when Wade pushed a Samuels full toss straight back to the bowler for 17.
Edwards picked up two wickets in the next over, Daniel Christian caught at cover and Brett Lee bowled for a golden duck, and West Indies had become firm favourites with 25 needed from the last 10 balls. It was quite a change from the early stages when Warner was steering Australia towards a strong position, although his opening partner Shane Watson was caught at slip in the first over off Edwards.
Warner gradually found his rhythm and pulled Garey Mathurin for six, before lifting Sunil Narine over long-on for another six. George Bailey promoted himself to first drop and showed that he can clear the boundary, with a powerful slog over cow corner off Mathurin. Bailey top-edged a catch to fine leg off Samuels for 24 and Charles, who had dropped a sitter at fine leg before Bailey had scored, breathed a sigh of relief.
Michael Hussey pushed a return catch to Samuels for 14 and although Warner kept the runs flowing and even forced the umpires to find a new ball when he pulled Mathurin out of the ground, West Indies kept themselves in the match. Warner's half-century came from 39 balls but his run-out was a blow from which Australia could not recover, and they were disappointed not to chase down 161 on a fine batting pitch.
The Australian bowlers had done well to peg West Indies back after the Charles-Smith opening stand, which took West Indies to 72 for 0 in the seventh over. Charles scored 37 from 21 balls and Smith made 63 from 34 deliveries, his first half-century in a Twenty20 international, but there were few other contributors and Bravo (23 from 24 balls) was the only other man who reached double figures.
Charles raced out of the blocks with four, six and four from his first three balls, the six a slashing cut that cleared the point boundary off Lee. Charles was also very strong through the leg side but he was the first man to fall, when he couldn't quite force Watson over the boundary and was caught at long-off.
Kieron Pollard, promoted to No.3, edged behind off Lee for 1 and it was a major blow after his success in the previous game. But Smith, who had already been strong on both sides of the wicket, kept the runs flowing and 20 runs came off a James Pattinson over as Smith deposited him in the stands three times in the over.
He started with a monstrous smash over cow corner that landed in the top tier of the Hall and Griffith Stand and followed it with a six that bounced into the windows of the Garfield Sobers Pavilion over long-on. Next ball came the most pure stroke of them all, a lofted drive hit through the line that landed over long-on and brought up his half-century from 30 deliveries.
Another six off Xavier Doherty followed in the next over before Smith fell to the left-arm spinner, caught at long-on trying to maintain his tempo. That wicket was the end of West Indies' blitz, as Bravo moved along at a run a ball and didn't strike a boundary. McKay's changes of pace troubled the middle order and the medium-pacers Watson and Christian were disciplined and accurate.
Lee picked up two late wickets to finish with 3 for 23 as West Indies were bowled out with two balls to spare, having scored 50 for the loss of seven wickets in ten overs after Smith's departure. It was quite a collapse, but Smith and Charles had done enough to set up victory, and just like the ODI portion of the tour, the T20s could not produce a winner. Perhaps the Tests can split these two sides.