We have been used to seeing Australia dominate and overcome opponents with ease in crunch games over the years. In the second semi-final of the World T20, however, the Aussies got a dose of their own medicine. West Indies put up such an inspired and professional performance that Australia had nothing to show in response. Right from the start, it was a dominant performance by Darren Sammy men, with the captain having to do little but sit back and relax. Not only did West Indies dominate Australia with the bat, when it was their turn to field, their bowlers brutalised the opponents and romped home with ease in the end.
Chris Gayle, the one man who Australia feared could severely block their path to the final, was at his very best on the day. Not only did he come up with the massive sixes that we have grown to expect of him over the last decade, but he also carried his bat through, proving his commitment to West Indies’ cause. One was actually left to wonder whether this was the same player who was kept out of the side, since the WICB were unsure of his dedication to West Indies cricket. On Friday there were no such signs.
Gayle batted with the stamp of genius written all over his innings. Even after losing his opening partner early, the veteran left-hander was not hurried into playing his shots. In fact, he was happy to rotate the strike against Australia’s key bowlers, and targeted the weaker links in the opponents. Thanks to Gayle holding up one end for West Indies, the batsman from the other end could go on an all-out attack on the Aussies. Marlon Samuels and Dwayne Bravo both came in and took on every Australian bowler, not sparing even Shane Watson and the other two quickies.
A great platform was set thanks to the early onslaught, and the partnership between Gayle and the big-hitting Kieron Pollard ensured that that match swung West Indies’ way completely. In the last five overs, both monstrous hitters found the boundary rather frequently. In fact, the Windies ended up hitting more sixes than fours, a clear sign of their domination. The last over bowled by left-arm spinner Xavier Doherty, in which the Windies managed to steal four sixes, was their ultimate stamp of authority on the match.
Once West Indies registered a 200 plus score, they were always favourites to get through to the final. The only way Australia could have hoped to upset West Indies’ progress was if their openers fired on all cylinders. It wasn’t to be. Sammy smartly opened with spin in the form of Samuel Badree, who was rewarded with David Warner scalp in the very first over. Shane Watson too fell, failing to judge the speed of a skidder, and Australia’s chase was over even before it began. Under the circumstances, captain George Bailey played a wonderfully counter-attacking knock, that raised Australia’s hope albeit briefly. Unlike Gayle though, he found little support from teammates. That in the end was the was difference between the two sides.
--By A Cricket Analyst