Aussies survive scare before beating Windies

Published: Tuesday, September 12, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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Kuala Lumpur, Sep 12 (UNI) Shivnarine Chanderpaul (92) and Chris Gayle's (58) batting pyrotechnics went in vain as Australia staged a remarkable come-from-behind act and scalped West Indies' last nine wickets for a paltry 29 runs to script a 78-run win in the DLF Cup opener at the Kinrara Oval today.

Set 280 to win, the West Indies made rollicking start with Chanderpaul and Gayle adding 136 runs for the first wicket in just 18 overs. But the next 17 overs were of utter despair for the West Indies as nine wickets fell for just 29 runs, ending the match in ignominy for the side from the Caribbean.

Chasing 280, West Indies came to play under the lights with enough experience in the form of Chanderpaul and Gayle. The Australian attack was also boosted by the return of old guard Glenn McGrath. McGrath bowled a good first over testing both Gayle and Chanderpaul at the off stump. But it was left armer Nathan Brcken from the other end who really stifled the West Indies start.

With two consecutive maidens from Bracken and tight bowling by McGrath too, West Indies were struggling at 13 for no loss after five overs.

It was at this point that floodgates really opened. Australia were mauled by the ensuing Calypso carnage like never before.

Chanderpaul was the first to launch into attack hitting Bracken for two fours in the sixth over. In Bracken's next over Chanderpaul hit him for three more fours. Ponting still persisted with Bracken not knowing that his figures were going to get only worse.

Chanderpaul played Bracken like a man possessed, hitting for sweetly times four at mid-wicket boundary. The southpaw followed it with a six over long leg and another maximum over midwicket to add on to Bracken's agony. All this while Chris Gayle was playing pretty okay at run-a-ball but the Chanderpaul blitz made his innings look like sedate.

The tall Jamaican is not used to playing second fiddle and he launched into his own fury that refused to accept his partner's dominance. With Gayle also hitting out, West Indies reached 100 in the 15th over.

Gayle continued his power play hitting Mitchell Johnson for straight four. At first drinks break, West Indies were 109 for no loss, bringing the required run rate well under-five. Gayle finally fell to Shane Watson spooning an easy catch to Phil Jacques at point for 58. His 49-balls innings contained seven fours and two huge sixes. The first wicket partnership raised 136 runs for the West Indies.

Australia had a great chance to come back in the match when at 141 for one, Ramnaresh Sarwan cut Watson uppishly but McGrath at sweeper boundary couldn't control the catch which ultimately resulted in six runs.

Chanderpaul continued his run feast improvising a great deal to hit shots like reverse sweep for boundaries. Rookie Johnson induced a faint edge off Chanderpaul to send the left hander back in pavilion for 92 off 80 balls with 10 fours and four sixes.

Mitchell then accounted for skipper Brian Lara for one to bring back smiles on Australian faces. McGrath then removed Dwayne Bravo for eight, triggering a mini collapse in the mid-innings. With three wickets lost for 13 runs, the match looked returning to even keel for both the West Indies and the Australian teams. But the Australians were tough to break from this point bowling every ball with increased momentum in their favour.

Such was the Australian dominance and West Indies apathy to fight back at this stage that a wicket fell for every one run for four straight runs. From 196 for five, West Indies were reduced to 201 all out, thus throwing away a great opportunity to take early lead in the tournament.

Earlier opting to bat first, Australia set West Indies an imposing target of 280 in the first match of the tri-series.

Masterful 81 from Michael Clarke and quick 56 by skipper Ricky Ponting took the Australians to 279 for the loss of nine wickets in the stipulated 50 overs.

Australia rested experienced players like Brett Lee, Andrew Symonds, Matthew Hayden and Mike Hussey to give chance to youngsters in the team.

West Indies opening bowlers Fidel Edwards and Ian Bradshaw kept it tight on a pitch that was hosting its first match. Australia's new opening pair of Simon Katich and Phil Jacques struggled to take advantage of initial fielding restrictions.

Australia lost the first wicket on the fourth over when Phil Jacques (2) played Fidel Edwards away from his body just to see an inside edge setting his off stump cart-wheeling. But it was a different ball game as soon as Aussie skipper Ricky Ponting arrived at the fall of first wicket.

Ponting was at his belligerent best taking both the opening bowlers Bradshaw and Pedro Collins to task. Ponting rocked on backfoot to cut an pull with aplomb whenever the bowlers pitched short. A few hundred spectators were served the best of Ponting as the Australian skipper showed his penchant for drives on the up as well.

Ponting raised run-a-ball fifty runs partnership for the second wicket with Katich.

Katich was happy to play second fiddle to his skipper and his dominating partner more of strike. Ponting didn't put any brakes to his free scoring hitting Bravo for consecutive fours to raise his 53rd fifty in one-day international. Australia were past hundred in the same over and Ponting was threatening to take the match away from the Windies.

But Bradshaw provided the lucky break for the Caribbean side by removing Ponting in the very next over. Ponting was done in by a delivery that moved in a bit and also kept low to hit him plumb in front of the wicket. Ponting made 56 in 54 balls with nine fours.

Ponting's departure was soon followed by the wicket Katich as well as the left hander tried to break the shackles but could only manage to hole out to Bravo at mid off. Katich made 36 off 69 deliveries.

Bradshaw was again the successful bowler as the Australian innings was tantalisingly poised at 123 for three at half-way stage.

It was once again a period of rebuilding for the Australians and captain-in-waiting for many experts Michael Clarke this time took the cudgels to propel Australian innings with enough fire-power.

The fence-seeking Ponting shots were absent for now but Clarke and Mark Cosgrove found many holes in the spread field to score at healthy rate. The duo were also involved in a fifty partnership which was broken only when Cosgrove tried to slog towards the late thirties overs. Cosgrove was caught by Lara at mid on off Dwayne Smith for 34.

Already established as man of crisis hour for Australia, this innings of Clarke also did no harm to his growing reputation. If Ponting had ran amok with his volley of boundaries and withdrawn back to the pavilion just when he was threatening to deliver the killer blow, Clarke was more sublime yet as effective as his skipper in bleeding the West Indies attack. He played the hard way, running many quick singles to keep the scoring rate steep.

There was occasional exuberance too, like the powerful spat off Smith over the bowlers head for a lightening boundary. But Clarke too failed to keep promise of a masterful century as he fell on 81 cleaned up by Bravo. But his 79-ball essay laid strong foundation for the Australian late order to launch all out attack. Some heavy bottom hand batting from Brad Haddin and Mitchell Johnson who hit a huge six over long off in the 49th over saw Australia post a reasonably strong total of 279 for nine in 50 overs.

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