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Australia continued their 100% record in the ICC T20 World Cup with an easy 6 wicket win over the hosts West Indies, to knock Chris Gayle's men out of the competition. Earlier in the day, Sri Lanka had given themselves an excellent shot of making the final four with a last ball win over India, thereby leaving the Windies with the small matter of not just having to beat the Aussies in St. Lucia, but to also beat them rather handsomely by 24 runs. The home batsmen caved under the pressure, helped a long way by some terrific bowling and fielding by the ODI World Champions, and were bowled out for just 105. Australia coasted to the target with almost 4 overs to spare.
The home fans atÂ Beausejour Stadium had a rare moment of joy when Chris Gayle won the toss and opted to bat first on a pitch that would get tougher for stroke play as the day wore on. A wide followed by a first ball boundary from Chris Gayle had the fans on their feet early, only to have their hopes shattered on the second legitimate delivery of Dirk Nannes' over, as the ball crashed into the stumps off Gayle's pads to sent the skipper back with just 4 runs to his name.
The West Indies had their only partnership of note for the second wicket as veterans Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Ramnaresh Sarwan continued to take advantage of a hard new ball and some wayward bowling to add 34 runs in less than 5 overs. Chanderpaul, who had contributed 24 of those runs in just 18 balls launched Mitchell Johnson over the infield for what against most teams would have been a third boundary in the over, only for David Hussey to run back from mid-on and take a fantastic overhead catch.
The West Indies innings fell away in between the 8th and 10th overs as Dwayne Bravo (6),Â NarsinghÂ Deonarine (0) and Denesh Ramdin (1)Â were dismissedÂ within the space of 11 balls. Kieron Pollard threatened to bring the innings back on track with some lusty hitting, but fell stumped off Steve Smith for 13. The other big hitter Darren Sammy followed Pollard back for a golden duck, and at 77 for 7, any hopes of getting to a half decent score lay with Sarwan, who had held one end up as the carnage unfolded around him.
Sadly, the former skipperÂ couldn't deliver.Â Sarwan tried to hit David Hussey's first delivery out of the park and failed to clear long-on. Sarwan had top scored with 26, but the West Indies had really needed him to buckle down and get many more. A 20-run last wicket stand between the West Indian spinners Nikita Miller and Sulieman Benn had taken the hosts past the 100 run mark, but Shane Watson removed the latter with an excellent yorker to bring an early end to the innings.
Any hopes the hosts might have had of putting pressure on the Aussies went quickly out of the window as David Warner launched himself at the opening bowlers taking 25 runs off 12 deliveries to bring the asking rate down to under 4.5 runs per over. The Windies got a temporary reprieve removing the openers on consecutive deliveries, Warner caught at slip off Jerome Taylor and Watson (5) playing the ball onto his stumps off Benn.
Skipper Michael Clarke and 'keeper-batsman Brad Haddin took charge of the innings, adding 47 runs for the 3rd wicket to put the result beyond doubt. The runs came at a slow pace, but thanks to Warner's innings and the low target, it didn't really matter. The West Indies eventually got rid of Clarke, for a scratchy 16 from 24 balls, caught napping by a smart piece of work in the field by Dwayne Bravo. The Australian skipper amazingly has looked the only weak link in this line-up that has otherwise run like clockwork, though he more than makes up for it with his attacking captaincy in the field.
Haddin and David Hussey appeared to be taking the Aussies home, only for the former to fall with 2 runs needed to win, attempting to clear the infield off Chris Gayle. The West Indies skipper, however, brought an odd end to proceedings bowling a bouncer that went over everyone's heads for 5 wides!
Back in their hotel room in another part of St. Lucia, the Sri Lankan team were celebrating the Aussie win and would relish the prospect of taking on an in-form England side in the first semi-final on Thursday. For Australia, it is a familiar foe as they meet Pakistan for the second time this tournament on Friday.
West Indies 105 all out (19 overs, 5.52rpo)
Sarwan 26 (31) Â Â Â Â Â Â Smith 3-20
Chanderpaul 24 (18) Â Â Hussey 2-3
Australia 109/4 (16.2 overs, 6.67 rpo)
Haddin 42 (46) Â Â Â Â Â Â Gayle 1-5
D Warner 25 (12) Â Â Â Â Â Benn 1-12
File Photograph Copyright: Barry Zee
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