Johnson turns tide to sink second-string West Indies
Australia 275-8 West indies 225 (Australia win by 50 runs): Australian fast bowler's all-round performance gives sluggish world champions a winning start
Sunday 27 September 2009
Australia relied on the all-round talents of Mitchell Johnson to beat a second-string West Indies side in Johannesburg. Batting first, the Australians were given a solid start on a tricky wicket by their captain, Ricky Ponting, who hit 79. But when he fell as one of five wickets lost for only 51 runs in the middle of the innings, the reigning world champions were in danger of being upstaged by a team of relative unknowns.
Australia were 171 for seven when Johnson came out to bat, but he smashed a maiden one-day international half-century to help Australia to a defendable total from their 50 overs. Johnson then provided the crucial moment in the field, when an 86-run stand between Andre Fletcher, who made 54, and Travis Dowlin, who scored 55, had West Indies on course for victory at 124 for one. Johnson ran out Fletcher with a direct hit from mid-off. After that, West Indies folded, and were eventually dismissed on the penultimate ball of the 47th over.
West Indies, who are playing the Champions Trophy without their most influential players, thanks to a contract dispute with their governing body, had provided little resistance with the bat in their opening game, against Pakistan, when they were routed for just 133. Against Australia they lost the opener Devon Smith for 17 when he was bowled by Peter Siddle in the sixth over. Fletcher and Dowlin then kept the score ticking.
The pair had looked untroubled on an improving surface before, in the 25th over, Fletcher timed a drive to Johnson's left at mid-off and set off for a run, only to be caught short when the quick bowler's throw hit the stumps. Brett Lee then took the key wicket of Dowlin when the batsman top-edged an attempted pull and the wicketkeeper, Tim Paine, held a diving catch after turning and racing back 20 metres.
West Indies were still well-placed at that stage, on 170 for four in the 37th over, but their lack of experience told in the final overs as they decided to employ big hitting when the required rate of six an over did not require such risk-taking. David Bernard had swung adventurously, without luck, on numerous occasions before Siddle eventually bowled him for eight, with a yorker, before Shane Watson removed Darren Sammy, who had hit back-to-back sixes off Johnson, for 20 and Floyd Reifer for 28 in the same over. West Indies were all out when Kemar Roach top-edged a Nathan Hauritz delivery to Johnson at short third man.
Australia were indebted to Johnson's 79 off just 49 balls as they recovered from a mid-innings collapse. They had lost Watson to the first ball of the game, when Roach bowled him with an inswinging yorker, before Paine and Ponting overcame tricky conditions to put on 85. After Paine fell for 33, caught by the wicketkeeper Chadwick Walton off Bernard, Ponting increased the tempo, smashing 17 from one Roach over as he reached his 50 from 63 balls. The captain was then one of five men to fall as Australia stuttered.
The impressive Nikita Miller, who took 2 for 24, had Ponting stumped by Walton before he turned one through the defences of Cameron White, as Australia plunged to 171 for seven in the 40th over. They were in danger of posting an inadequate total until Johnson and Lee combined for a quick stand of 70 from 52 balls, which was marked by Johnson's big hitting. Sammy went for successive sixes over the midwicket ropes and 21 came off the same bowler's penultimate over.
Away from the Champions Trophy, Sir Allen Stanford, the man behind last year's Stanford Super Series and England's one-off Twenty20 match with the Stanford Superstars, was reportedly taken to hospital following a fight with another prison inmate yesterday.
The Texan billionaire, who was charged in February by the US Securities and Exchange Commission with fraud and multiple violations of securities laws, was involved in an incident at the Joe Corley Detention Facility in Conroe, about 40 miles north of Houston.
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