Shaun Tait and David Warner, two of Australia's Twenty20 specialists, continued the team's unbeaten summer by setting up a 38-run thrashing of West Indies in Hobart. Warner provided the early thrills with a brutal batting display before the Man of the Match Tait destroyed West Indies' top order as Australia's plans for the ICC World Twenty20 took a step in the right direction.
Warner and Shane Watson lit up Bellerive Oval, which was hosting its first night international, by taking Australia to 0 for 83 in the eighth over and some late fireworks from Brad Haddin pushed them to 8 for 179. It was a good but gettable total, until two wickets in Tait's first over knocked the life out of the chase.
Chris Gayle has failed to spark during the limited-overs portion of the summer and that trend continued when he swung wildly at Tait's fourth delivery and saw his stumps splayed. The next ball was angled across Narsingh Deonarine, caught the edge and was sharply taken by Watson at first slip.
Kieron Pollard survived the hat-trick ball and blasted a couple of boundaries before he became the third of Tait's victims with an edge behind to a wonderful fast delivery that moved away off the seam. In between, Tait had been part of another breakthrough when Lendl Simmons slashed to him at third man off Dirk Nannes and after four overs, West Indies were 4 for 26.
Tait and Nannes proved a difficult combination for Pakistan in the Twenty20 earlier this month and if they remain fit could be a lethal new-ball duo at the world tournament. Mitchell Johnson becomes a backup bowler in their presence and he chipped in with two wickets including Dwayne Smith, superbly caught on the boundary by a jumping Steven Smith.
Smith repeated it with another on-the-move boundary catch to give Nannes his third wicket after Runako Morton (40) and Denesh Ramdin (44) added some respectability to West Indies' scorecard. They were composed in a 73-run stand but never got West Indies back in the match.
It was a disappointing result after they showed imagination, by opening with two spin bowlers, and fight, as they dragged the run-rate back following the quick start from Warner and Watson. The slow-bowling move paid off as Deonarine and Nikita Miller kept the first two overs to six runs before Warner began to tee off.
The openers took an extraordinary 59 off four overs beginning with the fourth and Warner led the charge with several strikes over the off side. A monstrous six over midwicket off Deonarine forced a change of ball and when Kemar Roach finally came on in the sixth over Warner welcomed him with a six smacked over midwicket and a back-away cut over third man.
Watson was slower to get going but equally powerful when he did and struck four sixes, stepping back deep into his crease to allow himself to lift the ball. A pair of sixes off Dwayne Smith were especially impressive but Watson was the first to depart when he skied Gayle and was taken by the wicketkeeper Ramdin for 37 off 19 balls.
Warner narrowly missed his third Twenty20 international half-century when he chipped a Smith full toss back to the bowler and was out for 49 from 32 deliveries. Australia's run-rate at the time was around 10 and it quickly receded after both openers left and the wickets began to flow.
Gayle, Pollard and Miller - who was extremely good with 2 for 20 - kept things tight and Australia's middle order might be one area they can work on before the World Twenty20. Michael Clarke continued to struggle in the format and made 12, Travis Birt compiled a nervy 13 and Cameron White was surprisingly stodgy in his 15 from 20 balls.
It was only the 44 from the last three overs, as Haddin raced to 37 from 16, that pushed Australia past a middling total. Tait made 179 look like a mountain.