Australia 207-8 West Indies 202 Australia win by 5 runs
Richie Richardson's dream of cocking a snook at his critics crumbled into dust under the floodlights in Chandigarh yesterday.
The West Indies' preparations for the World Cup were dogged by controversy and disputes centred on Brian Lara and his relationship with his captain. Then there was the vitriol, dismissals and Richardson's decision to call it a day that followed the defeat by Kenya in the group stage.
Against that background, nothing would have given Richardson greater satisfaction than to end his career with World Cup victory, but just when a place in the final against Sri Lanka was in his grasp it was snatched away by a combination of catastrophic batting and Australia's tenacious bowling and fielding.
At 165 for 2 with 43 runs needed off 54 balls, West Indies slumped to 202 all out, with Richardson, himself, making the last misjudgement. That he was left stranded on 49 not out was the result of his attempt to steel a run to the wicketkeeper in the last over, a decision that cost Curtly Ambrose his wicket and brought in the last man, Courtney Walsh. He was bowled first ball by Damien Fleming and the match was lost.
"We should have won this match, we really should have won it," he muttered, in his bemusement mastering the art of understatement that his Caribbean critics will have no time for. "You tell the guys to hit straight, but it's not easy."
It looked it right up to the moment when Shivnarine Chanderpaul, who played beautifully for 80 after opening the innings, forgot that advice in attempting a wild heave at fast bowler Glenn McGrath, the ball pitching into Fleming's hands at mid-on.
Instead of a recognised batsman coming in to join Richardson in pushing singles, the all-rounder Roger Harper appeared and imitated Shivnarine in swinging across the line at McGrath. After he departed, lbw, the batting went from bad to worse.
Ottis Gibson, only fit enough to send down two overs during Australia's innings, came in next, a signal for Australia's captain, Mark Taylor, to recall Shane Warne. The devastating leg-spinner needed a single delivery to dispose of Gibson, having him caught behind off an attempted back-foot force.
In his next over, Jimmy Adams missed a sweep and was pinned leg-before, while Keith Arthurton, with only one run from three innings, edged an ambitious pull against Fleming, departing for a duck.
Warne, who had opened his account with an athletic caught and bowled to remove the opener Courtney Browne, then had Ian Bishop leg-before playing back to finish with 4 for 36.
When the final over began, West Indies needed 10 runs two wickets in hand. Richardson reached 49 by pulling Fleming to the boundary, but then he lost the plot.
While Australia, the pre-tournament favourites, celebrated, West Indies wer pitched back into the kind of suffering they felt after that ignominious by Kenya two weeks ago.
"We were behind all day but we hung in there," Taylor said. "They won 95 per cent of the game ... but we won the last 5 per cent.
"It was very tense being the semifinal of the World Cup. I thought we fielded a lot better today and bowled a lot better but we batted poorly. So I hope we get it right for the final."
Taylor singled out Warne, and McGrath, whose two wickets included top scorer Shivnarine Chanderpaul, for special praise. They may have wrapped up the victory, but Australia owed the fact that they had a chance at all plenty to four other men.
Steve Waugh picked up the wicket of Brian Lara, who had batted superbly for 45, with a delivery that clipped off stump, and long before that Stuart Law and Michael Bevan had rebuilt Australia's innings from 15 for 4.
Ambrose and Bishop had been devastating with the new ball, sending back Mark Waugh, Taylor, Ricky Ponting and Steve Waugh inside the first 10 overs. Then Law and Bevan put on 138 and Ian Healy contributed to haul the Australian total to 207 for 8, a figure that had looked out of the question earlier on.
Having seen the way Sri Lanka have clattered their way through the opposition to reach the final, the Australians will know that they cannot afford to bat that way on Sunday, but their bowling and fielding were certainly world class.
(Australia won toss)
M E Waugh lbw b Ambrose 0
*M A Taylor b Bishop 1
R T Ponting lbw b Ambrose 0
S R Waugh b Bishop 3
S G Law run out 72
M G Bevan c Richardson b Harper 69
I A Healy run out 31
P R Reiffel run out 7
S K Warne not out 6
Extras (lb11, w5, nb2) 18
Total (for 8, 50 overs) 207
Fall: 1-0, 2-7, 3-8, 4-15, 5-153, 6-171, 7-186, 8-207.
Did not bat: D W Fleming, G D McGrath.
Bowling: Ambrose 10-1-26-2; Bishop 10-1-35-2; Walsh 10-1-33-0; Gibson 2-0-13-0; Harper 9-0-47-1; Adams 9-0-42-0.
S Chanderpaul c Fleming b McGrath 80
C O Browne c & b Warne 10
B C Lara b S Waugh 45
*R B Richardson not out 49
R A Harper lbw b McGrath 2
O D Gibson c Healy b Warne 1
J C Adams lbw b Warne 2
K L T Athurton c Healy b Fleming 0
I A Bishop lbw b Warne 3
C E L Ambrose run out 2
C A Walsh b Fleming 0
Extras (lb4, w2, nb2) 8
Total (49.3 overs) 202
Fall: 1-25, 2-93, 3-165, 4-173, 5-178, 6-183, 7-187, 8-194, 9-202.
Bowling: McGrath 10-2-30-2; Fleming 8.3-0-48-2; Warne 9-0-36-4; M E Waugh 4-0-16-0; S R Waugh 7-0-30-1; Reiffel 5-0-13-0; Bevan 4-0-12-0; Law 2- 0-13-0.
Umpires: B C Cooray and S Venkataraghavan.Reuse content