Gayle blows away Aussies

Australia 169-7 West Indies 172-3 (West Indies win by seven wickets)

By Stephen Fay
Thursday 12 September 2013 05:56

Australia have been humiliated too. Yesterday they experienced the full force of Chris Gayle as the West Indies blasted their way to a seven-wicket win in only 15.5 overs. As England know, when this happens there is not much anyone can do about it, but the implications are highly significant. After England's defeat on Friday, both Ashes teams are now in grave danger of failing to qualify for the Super-8 stage of the World Twenty20 Cup.

Australia must now beat Sri Lanka tomorrow, and yesterday's performance has already exposed their fragility in this form of the game. Ricky Ponting, who admitted the performance was "a bit sloppy", also revealed they have contingency plans to spend two weeks in Leicester if they are knocked out early.

Gayle scored 88 runs in 50 balls with six fours and six sixes, and he feasted especially off the bowling of Brett Lee. It was exhilarating to watch Gayle drive him out of The Oval into the Harleyford Road before twice hitting him into the Bedser Stand. Gayle took 27 runs off that over. Lee has not suffered such an indignity since he last appeared at The Oval in 2005 and Kevin Pietersen handed out the punishment. Lee's four overs cost 56 runs and having Gayle caught at mid off by Shane Watson provided only light relief from his misery.

Ponting looked shell-shocked as the West Indies openers put on 133 for the first wicket in only 11.3 overs, though that would have been less impressive if Mike Hussey had caught Andre Fletcher when the score was only 40. None of the Australian bowlers suffered as Lee did, but none can take any satisfaction from this.

The wicket was good for batting, but the ferocity of the onslaught meant that whatever strategy they might have concocted was redundant. The West Indies had bowled six overs of spin for only 48 runs, proving that this is often a more effective way of controlling the run rate than speed. But Australia chose to leave out Nathan Hauritz.

It was a curiously passive display by Australia. They had displayed weakness in the short forms of the game against South Africa last winter and it was clear that little had changed when they lost their first two wickets with only three extras on the board, including Ponting for a duck, and their third when the score was 15.

Only David Warner, a recent discovery in limited-overs cricket, offered some resistance. His 63 off 53 balls was the prelude to a middle-order recovery by Brad Haddin, David and Michael Hussey that took the total to 169, which never looked sufficient.

The rain had finally relented at midday, leaving just enough time for Scotland to give New Zealand a fright in a match curtailed to seven overs a side. Batting first, the Scots rode some outrageous luck. Ryan Watson hit four boundaries in the first over and scored 27 of Scotland's first 30 runs in just 10 balls. Had they not lost three wickets in the last over, they would have set an even more testing target than 90.

New Zealand's Ian Butler, who took those wickets, confessed during the interval that he had never felt so nervous. He had no reason to. Brendon McCullum and Jesse Ryder player proper cricket shots and found the boundary even more regularly than the Scots. When they were gone, Ross Taylor hit two more sixes and New Zealand scored the necessary runs in only six overs, to win, as the West Indies were to do, by seven wickets.

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