WINDIES WIN IT
...Gayle, bowlers brush past Australia to reach World T20 final
West Indies stormed into the final of the ICC World Cup Twenty20 tournment when their bowlers followed up breezy batting from Chris Gayle, driving them to a 74-run victory over Australia in the second men's semi-final yesterday.
The talismic opener was near unstoppable, carrying his bat for an unbeaten 75 from just 41 balls that included five fours and six sixes, anchoring West Indies to a formidable 205 for four from their stipulated 20 overs.
Ravi Rampaul then ignited the Windies bowling with a career-best three for 16 from 3.4 overs, as Australia were bowled out for 131, despite an equally enterprising 63 off 29 balls from their captain George Bailey before a modest, but vocal Premadasa Stadium crowd.
Rampaul formalised the victory with 20 deliveries remaining, when he bowled Mitchell Starc for two with a well-pitched delivery.
Kieron Pollard ended with two for six from one over, Sunil Narine took two for 17 from three overs, and Samuel Badree grabbed two for 27 from his allotted four overs.
The result erased the pain of the Windies Women's team's loss in the preceding match against the Aussie Women, and advanced Darren Sammy's troops to the final, where they will face hosts Sri Lanka tomorrow at the same venue.
Gayle was typically brutal and led the West Indies big-hitting that yielded all but 69 in boundaries, comprising 13 fours and 14 sixes.
Johnson Charles was an early setback, when he was caught behind off Mitchell Starc for ten, leaving West Indies 16 for one in the third over.
But the West Indies batting charge never relented following his departure, as Marlon Samuels joined Gayle and they jammed their feet down hard on the accelerator to help West Indies finish the Power Play overs on 46 for one.
After Samuels was bowled by Patrick Cummins for 26 in the eighth over, essaying an ungainly slog at a slower delivery, Dwayne Bravo too, indulged himself.
But Gayle was in full cry and dispatched David Hussey's part-time off-spin for two fours and a six in the 15th over. Gayle dragged Hussey's second delivery through mid-on for four, smashed the next straight for six and finished the over with a delicate steer to third man for another boundary to race to his 50 from 29 balls.
Next over, Bravo launched Cummins over long-off for the last of his three sixes before he drove the same bowler into the lap of extra cover next ball.
He made 37 from 31 balls, which also included one four and put on 83 for third wicket with Gayle from just 51 deliveries.
In the closing overs, Gayle and Pollard, in particular, continued to pummel the Aussie attack, plundering 65 from the last 25 balls.
Pollard had successive fours off Starc in the penultimate over and then he finished with a flourish, crashing three successive sixes off left-arm spinner Xavier Doherty in the final over before he was caught at long-off for a knock of 38 that included three fours and four sixes from 15 balls.
With the memory of their group match still fresh in their minds, West Indies were determined not to let Australia gain a rapid start, and Badree, typically using the new ball, obliged.
The leg-spinner bowled David Warner for one with the final delivery of the first over, a dismissal that needed TV replays to confirm, after the ball deftly touched the off-stump.
Samuels, sharing the new ball with Badree, interrupted the Australian flow just when it appeared they were getting into gear, when he held a sharp return chance to dismiss Mike Hussey for 18.
Badree bowled Shane Watson for seven in the next over, when the batsman tried to pull over the top of a flat, fast and straight delivery, leaving Australia 29 for three.
Rampaul swung the match decisively West Indies' way with two wickets in the space of three deliveries in his first over.
He had Cameron White caught behind down the leg-side for five and held a return catch to dismiss David Hussey for a duck before off-spinner Sunil Narine tightened the noose, when Matthew Wade top-edged a sweep and was caught at fine leg for one, sinking the Aussies to 43 for six.
West Indies were put on the defensive when Bailey exploded and Andre Russell felt the brunt of his assault in his only over—the 11th of the innings—which cost 25 runs, including three fours and two sixes, taking Bailey to his 50 in just 23 balls.
Pollard, whose bowling has been seldom used in the preceding matches, left no doubts about the winner with two wickets in the 14th over.
He had the Australian captain caught at deep mid-wicket following a stand of 68 from 37 balls for the seventh wicket with Cummins, who was caught at extra cover the next ball, as the Aussies lost their last four wickets for 20 runs in the space of 21 deliveries.