West Indies bludgeon Aussies to march into World T20 final
BBC Sport – Chris Gayle and Kieron Pollard produced a superb display of power hitting as West Indies thrashed Australia to reach the final of the World Twenty20.
Gayle (75no) and Pollard added 65 off 25 balls as the Windies racked up 205-4, the highest score of the tournament.
Despite a defiant 29-ball 63 from captain George Bailey, Australia never recovered from a poor start, crumbling to 131 all out to lose by 74 runs.
West Indies will meet hosts Sri Lanka in the final in Colombo on Sunday.
It was a phenomenal display from West Indies, based around another show-stopping performance by the peerless Gayle. Despite facing only 41 balls in the 20-over innings and requiring treatment midway through for a side strain, the left-handed opener still managed to get within 25 runs of a century, smashing six sixes and five fours with a strike rate of 182.
Marlon Samuels helped set the tempo with a breezy 26 and Dwayne Bravo hit three towering sixes in his 37 off 31 balls.
However, it was Gayle and Pollard, who plundered 63 runs off the last four overs, who really demoralised Australia. After watching the previously economical Mitchell Starc carted for 17 in the penultimate over, Bailey took a gamble by throwing the ball to left-arm spinner Xavier Doherty. It proved a costly mistake as Gayle heaved a six over midwicket before Pollard helped himself to three maximums in a row.
He holed out at long-off off the last ball of the innings to fall for 38 off 15 deliveries, but the damage had been done.
Australia’s best chance of joining their women’s team in the final by completing the joint second highest successful run chase in the tournament’s history was always likely to lie with prolific openers David Warner and Shane Watson.
So when both were bowled by leg-spinner Samuel Badree inside the first five overs, the writing was on the wall. Warner was dismissed off the last ball of the first over when a television replay confirmed that a googly had shaved his off stump.
After Mike Hussey top-edged a return catch to Marlon Samuels following a rapid 18, Watson was castled for seven by one that fizzed on. Ravi Rampaul took two wickets in three balls – Cameron White caught down the leg side and David Hussey caught and bowled off a leading edge – before Matthew Wade was caught sweeping to leave Australia reeling on 43-6.
Bailey, not renowned for his ball-striking, led a one-man counter-attack, but with the required run-rate creeping above 14 per over, his innings was nothing more than a footnote to proceedings.
So it proved as Pollard removed Pat Cummins and Bailey in the same over, Brad Hogg was stumped off Sunil Narine and Rampaul bowled Starc to wrap up a phenomenal win.
The Windies are through to their first global final since 2004, when they beat England at The Oval to win the Champions Trophy. But they will face a severe test against Sri Lanka, who in Lasith Malinga and Ajantha Mendis have two of the most successful bowlers at the tournament, and will be cheered on by a raucous home crowd.
Looking ahead to tomorrow’s match, Gayle predicted a thrilling finale as the West Indies have gathered much needed momentum and confidence since a slow start to the tournament.
“It’s going to be a thriller against world-class players, but it’s going to be good fun. We’re enjoying it, but at the same time we want to win the final.
We struggled to reach this far, now there’s just one more hurdle and there’s no pressure on us,” Gayle said.
“We played against them in the Super Eights and we know what to expect – the atmosphere, the noise. We lost that game, but we’re definitely going to lift this trophy here. I feel very confident and the others feel confident too.”
Scores: West Indies 205 for 4 (Gayle 75*, Pollard 38) beat Australia 131 (Bailey 63, Rampaul 3-16) by 74 runs.