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  • Australia v West Indies, World T20

Sammy pulls off West Indies' best chase

The Report by Brydon Coverdale
March 28, 2014
Darren Sammy destroyed Australia in the final two overs © Getty Images
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West Indies 179 for 4 (Gayle 53) beat Australia 178 for 8 (Maxwell 45, Narine 2-19) by 6 wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

West Indian batting power ejected Australia from the previous World T20 in Sri Lanka and has all but done so again after Darren Sammy pulled off a remarkable heist in Mirpur. Chris Gayle gave West Indies a blazing start to their chase of 179 but they spluttered in the middle and Australia were firm favourites when George Bailey handed the ball to Mitchell Starc with 31 still needed from the final two overs.

Sammy had other ideas. A half-volley was smashed over long-on for six, a flick was finessed to the fine-leg boundary and another four was slashed behind point, and Starc's inability to land the ball in the right spots meant 19 runs had leaked from his over, leaving 12 required off the final six balls. Importantly, Sammy was on strike, though his partner Dwayne Bravo had contributed plenty to the chase with 27 off 12 deliveries.

Two yorkers from James Faulkner gave Bailey reason to breathe easier, but Sammy followed those with a six crunched over long-off from a full toss and another six down the ground to secure the six-wicket win with two balls to spare. Sammy threw his arms up in the air to celebrate and well he might have, for his 34 off 13 balls was the reason West Indies managed the highest successful chase in their T20 international history.

Australia were shattered by the loss, which left them winless from their first two games. Even victories in their remaining matches against India and Bangladesh may well be inadequate to progress to the semi-finals. It has been a harsh lesson for a side who entered the tournament as favourites with five wins from their past five games - notably, all in faster, more familiar conditions. Here their batsmen again struggled against spin.

Dwayne Bravo, Chris Gayle and Darren Sammy show off their dancing skills after the victory © ICC
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Not that their total of 178 for 8 was unable to be defended; on the contrary, they must have felt confident at the change of innings, even more so after Shane Watson sent down a maiden for the first over of the chase to Dwayne Smith. After that, though, it was the Gayle show. His first ball was a pearler from Starc, angling in and straightening past the outside edge, but that was about the only time Gayle looked troubled.

Four fours followed later in that same over and the old Gayle magic was back. He clipped Doug Bollinger over square leg for six and continued to strike the ball cleanly in all directions, taking 40 from his first 14 deliveries. Smith edged behind off Starc for 17 but Gayle was the worry for Australia, and after his brisk start he settled down into a more run-a-ball mode, moving to his half-century from 31 balls.

At times he was walking singles, such was the ease with he appeared to be taking things, but on 53 he sent a catch to deep midwicket off James Muirhead and the fate of the match looked as if it may have changed on that one stroke. The runs began to dry up, Lendl Simmons was caught in the deep for 26 and Marlon Samuels used up 15 balls for his 12 before he was brilliantly taken by Brad Haddin diving to his right off Starc.

It was the last good thing Starc did for the match - Bravo clubbed him for six later in that over, and then it was the Sammy show. Those two final overs were fatal to Australia in this match, but their lack of big runs from their top three batsmen has also hurt them in both games.

As they had in the loss to Pakistan, Australia again relied on Maxwell to rebuild the innings after the top three struggled against quality spin. This time, David Warner and Aaron Finch at least made starts but they fell in consecutive overs while trying to force the pace - Finch was bowled for 16 attempting a slog sweep off Samuels and Samuel Badree's skidder took middle stump to end Warner's innings on 20.

Watson failed to get going for the second consecutive game, this time stumped for 2 from eight balls when Sunil Narine turned one past the bat. Denesh Ramdin was hardly crisp behind the stumps but such was Watson's apparent lack of awareness that his back foot was on the line that Ramdin was able to miss the bails on his first attempt at breaking them, then knock them off at the second try and still find Watson short.

When Bailey sent a catch to midwicket off Samuels for 12, Australia were in a spot of bother at 77 for 4, and it looked like spin could be their undoing in a tournament played in turning conditions. But Maxwell showed against Pakistan that such bowling does not worry him, and here he followed 16 off a Sammy over with a couple more sixes, slog swept off Samuels and crunched over extra cover off Badree.

There was no crazily fast half-century for Maxwell as there had been against Pakistan, but his 45 from 22 - he pulled a catch to deep midwicket off Badree - at least put Australia on the path to a competitive total. Brad Hodge, who entered the match as Twenty20's leading run scorer of all time, had enough experience to steer the innings up towards the 150 mark, his 35 ending only when he tried to reverse sweep Narine and was bowled.

The lower order added a few boundaries to get the total up to 178 for 8 but it was not enough. West Indies now have every chance of advancing to the semi-finals and maybe defending their title, won in Sri Lanka in 2012 after Gayle monstered Australia in the semi-final with 75 off 41 balls. Australia will almost certainly fly home next week wondering how on earth they can win this elusive trophy. Perhaps if Gayle retires before the next tournament they might have some chance.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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