Australia has beaten the West Indies by 17 runs in a rain affected game at the R Premadasa Stadium in Colombo last night and will advance to the knockout stage as top seed from Group B.
The Australians were 1/100 before rain interrupted and ultimately ended their run chase after the West Indies set the Aussies a massive task after blasting their way to 8/191 after their 20 overs.
In their first group match of the 2012 T20 World Cup, the West Indian batting lineup proved more than handy at this form of the game. While they were only 1/12 after 3 overs, it only took a Shane Watson dropped catch off Mitchell Starc’s bowling to ignite the explosive Chris Gayle.
Gayle’s innings of 54 included five 4s and four 6s as the Windies bludgeoned their way towards a competitive total.
Supported masterfully by Marlon Samuels and Johnson Charles (16), Gayle pushed the score to 93 in the 11th over before Watson deceived Gayle with a slower bouncer, making up for his earlier dropped catch.
Watson was the pick of the bowlers after also taking the wicket of the dangerous Kieron Pollard, finishing with 2/29 off his 4 overs. Pat Cummins and Glen Maxwell were plundered by the batsman, having 18 and 17 respectively taken off their overs.
Samuels erupted after the Gayle wicket to score 35 runs in just 13 balls to score his 50 in 31 balls before holing out to Dave Warner at deep mid-on off the bowling of Brad Hogg two balls later.
Dwayne Bravo (27) was manfully supported by the tail as the Windies closed in on 200, but two late wickets from Starc arrested momentum and ultimately had the Calypso Kings end on 191.
Needing to go at a run rate of 9.6 per over, Dave Warner started the Australians in spectacular fashion, scoring 28 off the first two overs. Unfortunately he was given out caught behind at the start of the 3rd over to a dubious decision by umpire Asad Rauf off the bowling of Fidel Edwards.
From then on, Australia looked in control as Watson and Mike Hussey steadily worked towards the Windies total and were beginning to capitalize on poor bowling as the rain started tumbling at the start of the 10th over.
Watson again led Australia with the bat with 41no and combined with his 2/29, won the man of the match award. The effervescent Hussey finished on 28no as Australia were 1/100 and well positioned to win when the match was abandoned.
Just as in the earlier game in Hambantota, which was shortened to 7 overs a side, rain spoiled the prospect of a very entertaining finish.
“Weather took away a very exciting game,” said West Indian captain Darren Sammy after the game. “Everybody was looking forward to it. The batsmen did what was required of them. We knew Australia would come back hard, and we took too long to respond.”
Fortunately for the Australians, the Duckworth Lewis total was 83 and allowed them to progress through to the knockout stages on top of the Group B standings where they will meet the India in the Super 8 stage.
However, there is plenty of work to be done for the Australians before that match on Friday.
“There was some good stuff but there was some ordinary stuff as well,” said Australian captain George Bailey. “That’s what the challenge is, to lessen the gap between the good and the ordinary stuff. We did do that in patches, but there were certainly patches when they got away from us.”
The West Indies still have another group game against Ireland to come in Colombo and will surely progress through to the knockout stage.
Ben Sathananthan is a first-year Sports Journalism student at La Trobe University. You can follow him on Twitter: @bensathsports