Kieron Pollard blazed West Indies to a first ODI victory over Australia since 2006, his stand with Dwayne Bravo swallowing up the tourists’ modest total in a rain-affected match at the Arnos Vale Ground.
Set the Duckworth/Lewis-adjusted target of 158 from 40 overs after holding Australia to 154 for 9, the hosts made the worst possible start when Kieran Powell shouldered arms to Brett Lee’s first ball of the innings and was palpably lbw. But from an uncertain 74 for 4, Pollard and Dwayne Bravo constructed the most assured stand of the match, and took West Indies to a deserved win with five wickets and 11 balls to spare.
Pollard’s innings was punctuated by three sixes in one critical four-over burst, and it was a spell of scoring that would prove decisive. He saved a fourth for the closing stages of the chase, swinging Doherty over midwicket with such force that the ball clanged off the roof of a stand and bounded out of the ground.
Bravo was run out before the end, the final few runs collected a little nervously, but there was no doubting the importance of his contribution to a West Indian victory that ended a 14-match run without a win against Australia. Though Doherty and Clint McKay bowled diligently for the visitors, they had been given too few runs to defend. The five-match series is now level at one apiece.
The wicketkeeper Carlton Baugh landed the final blows, and with Chris Gayle celebrating in the stands amid speculation of a possible compromise between the former captain and the WICB, the hosts’ prospects for this series looked far brighter than they had on Friday.
Sent in to bat as much because of the threat of that rain as anything else, the tourists slipped to 46 for 3 and lost regular wickets across the innings that staggered to 154 for 9. David Hussey, Watson and George Bailey did their best, but could not find the right gears on a pitch slower and lower than the one for the first match.
Kemar Roach had struck twice in his fourth over, the second after a lengthy rain interruption, and Darren Sammy followed up with the wicket of Australia’s captain Watson. Roach’s display was particularly arresting as he fights to return to the Test team, while Sunil Narine’s spin was tidy and intelligent and earned four wickets.
Powell simply lost his bearings against Lee’s first ball when West Indies chased, letting go a delivery that shaped back a fraction but would still have been much too close to leave even if it had not moved. Watson chimed in with a yorker that Samuels played over, and while the slide from 42 for 1 to 74 for 4 was gradual, it left Australia with what appeared a decent chance of rushing to a 2-0 series lead.
However, Pollard swung the game definitively towards West Indies with a flurry of sixes. He powered three in a matter of minutes to push Watson’s fields back and cause him to change his bowlers, while also making the runs-to-balls ratio more or less irrelevant.
In contrast to Pollard, Bravo played with good sense and few risks, only once leaping down the pitch to loft Doherty over mid-on. In their contrasting approaches, Pollard and Bravo presented Watson and Australia with a union they could not separate before the match’s course had been determined, and it was a joyous celebration by both the home crowd and their players when the target was reached in fading light.
David Warner and Watson had made a steady opening after a brief shower delayed the start, reaching 16 for 0 in five overs. At this point more substantial rain pelted the ground, and sent the players off the field for about 90 minutes. When they returned, Warner was swiftly disposed of, playing back to a Roach delivery that skidded through low and flicked off stump. Next man Peter Forrest was undone simply and quickly, edging a ball of high pace and teasing line to second slip to depart for a duck in the same over.
Roach’s strikes had the hosts buzzing in the field, and when Andre Russell relieved him, Roach had the startling figures of 5-3-4-2. Watson had returned the West Indian fire with a smart six from the bowling of Sammy, but the West Indies captain would have the last laugh when he floated a slower ball that his opposite number chipped to midwicket.
Michael and David Hussey then set about repairing the innings, as Narine’s offbreaks received plenty of assistance from the pitch. The elder Hussey was dropped on eight, a sharp chance from the bowling of Sammy bursting through Pollard’s hands in the gully. The drop was not to prove too expensive, as Narine tossed an off break fractionally fuller than his usual length, prompting a thin edge behind and a neat catch by Carlton Baugh. Bailey again looked at home in international company, but was upset to squander his start by cutting Bravo to backward point.
While Lee scrapped as best he could, adding the second six of the innings with a mighty swipe wide of long-on, Australia’s total looked insubstantial. Thanks to Pollard, it would prove exactly that.
(Information Source: www.espncricinfo.com)