SUNIL Narine came to the party in a big way on Sunday with a superb spell of spin bowling as West Indies beat Australia by five wickets in the second Digicel One-Day International.
The 23-year-old off-spinner took a career best four wickets for 27 runs off eight overs as the Windies limited the visitors to 154-9 off 40 overs in a rain-reduced match at Arnos Vale Cricket Ground. The target was then set at 158 (Duckworth/Lewis Method) and the home side romped home at 163-5 with ten balls to spare.
The victory was celebrated by a capacity crowd of more than 12,000. It was the Windies' first win over the Aussies in an ODI since 2006 and brought them level 1-1 with three matches left in the five-match rubber.
Big-hitter Kieron Pollard smashed four sixes in a top-score of 47 not out off 61 balls and Carlton Baugh ended the match with a big six over deep square-leg into the celebrating crowd. Earlier, vice captain Dwayne Bravo made a responsible 30 off 49 balls in a crucial fifth-wicket stand of 64 with Pollard.
"It feels really great to get my best figures in just my fifth match and bowl the team to a victory. We needed this win after going 1-0 down in the first match on Friday. This will be a huge boost for the players in the team and everyone in the dressing room. This is the first West Indies win over Australia in a long time and it shows that we have it in us to win," said Narine.
In analysing his Man-of-the-Match performance, Narine said he focussed on two main things--building pressure by bowling "dot balls" and attacking the batsmen as he went in the hunt of wickets.
"It was not an easy wicket to score on. The batsmen found it a bit difficult to get away the ball and I knew once I kept to the game plan I could create problems. I bowled to a plan and I was well backed up by the other bowlers and the guys in the field. This was a wonderful team effort and is something to build on."
Narine added it was "special" to play in front packed stands and have the supporters cheer on the team.
Some fans arrived at Arnos Vale from as early as 7 a.m. and stayed to the end to see their team continue their love affair with the picturesque venue. The result was West Indies' 18th victory in 22 One-day Internationals here.
"It was amazing. It felt special to have a big crowd cheering us on. This is just my second 'home' match for West Indies and I felt really motivated to go out there and perform. The fans came in from early and as we drove in we got words of encouragement. That's the reason we play, for the fans, and it is always good to give them something special to celebrate," Narine said.
Match schedule for Digicel ODI Series
Today – 3rd Digicel ODI at Arnos Vale Cricket Ground, St Vincent
Friday March 23 – 4th Digicel ODI at Beausejour Cricket Ground, St Lucia
Sunday March 25 – 5th Digicel ODI at Beausejour Cricket Ground, St Lucia