Darren Sammy walked in the middle, when West Indies still required 49 runs in 3.3 overs for victory. After Gayle’s departure in the 13th over, scoring had become difficult as Faulkner, Muirhead and Maxwell tied the batsmen in a knot. Until the 10th over, West Indies were scoring at a brisk rate but the Australian bowlers gained the upper hand as time passed. Until they were together, Marlon Samuels and Dwayne were only allowed ones and two with odd boundaries. Faulkner was especially bowling with great control and accuracy and when Samuels got out to a brilliant catch by keeper Haddin, who dived full length to a big edge from the batsman, it looked like Australia’s match. But Sammy had yet to arrive.
Sammy just took a single from the first ball he faced so that Bravo could deal with Starc’s remaining two balls. The fifth ball was a dot but Bravo pulled Starc’s last ball with such power that the six landed far behind the deep square leg boundary. With three overs left, West Indies needed 42 to beat Australia. George Bailey called Doug Bollinger to bowl the 18th over. The first ball was a middle-stump Yorker bowled at 145 kph and all Sammy could do, was to jam his bat on it and get a single. The next ball to Bravo was another dot but Bravo found a whip on the third and hit it for four. Next two balls went for 2 singles, before Bravo produced another boundary on the last ball. When Starc came back to bowl the 19th over, Sammy hoisted his first ball for a huge long-on six and took 2 runs off the next. Then he created a shot from a full-length ball, pitched on the off-side to send it to deep square leg boundary. Off the fourth ball he and Bravo ran for two and hit the next ball for four. He stole a single off the last ball and kept the strike for the final over. With 19 runs coming of the 19th over, West Indies now required 12 from the 20th over by James Faulkner. The first two balls were dots to the great delight of Australian supporters. But Sammy was determined, as he lifted the next ball over long off. Faulkner’s fourth ball was full on the middle stump but Sammy amazingly dug it out and sent it out of the ground for a fantastic victory for his team, leaving the Australians shell-shocked.
Earlier, the Australian compiled 178 for 8, which was an entirely defendable total. At one stage they were tottering at 77/4 but Maxwell and Hodge batted with flourish and pulled their team out of the woods. There were also useful contributions from the lower order batsmen in providing respectability to the final score. A highlight of the Australian innings was a sensational catch by Dwayne Brave, when Faulkner skied the ball. Bravo came running from deep, covering a lot of ground but the ball popped out of his reverse-cupped palms and went behind him. But keeping his eyes fixed on the target, Bravo turned on his heels in an instant and pounced on the falling ball to pick it up inches off the ground.
The India-Bangladesh match virtually turned out to be a no-contest game, with India dictating terms from the very beginning. It was literally a repeat of the two matches, which India have played earlier. The only exception was Ravichandran Ashwin, who collected the man-of-the-match award, instead of Amit Mishra in the last two games. Though Ashwin took only 2 wickets to Mishra’s haul of 3, the award panel might have been influenced by Ashwin conceding only 15 in his 4 overs. The hosts kept losing their wickets regularly to adventurous strokes and could only make 138, thanks to Anamul Haque and Mahmudullah, who made 44 and 33 respectively.
India lost Shikhar Dhawan early, but last match’s heroes, Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli batted without any hurry and took the score to 113 in the 16th over, before Sharma needlessly got out. Dhoni joined Kohli and the two of them took India to an easy 8-wicket victory. With just one league game left against Australia on Sunday, India have already secured their place in the last four.
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