Two weeks ago, I wrote what I then felt was a story of hope. Or, perhaps, what I then felt was the story that should be told.
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KOLKATA—Captain Darren Sammy’s aggressive, unbeaten half-century led a determined lower order rally as West Indies beat Australia by three wickets with a ball spare, in their final official warm-up match of the Twenty20 World Cup here yesterday.
Rocked by seamer Josh Hazlewood’s hat-trick in the fourth over to be tottering on 49 for five in the ninth over, West Indies recovered brilliantly to reach their target of 162 at Eden Gardens, thanks to exactly 50 off 28 balls from Sammy.
All-rounder Carlos Brathwaite smashed 33 from just 14 deliveries while Andre Russell blasted 29 from 15 balls, as West Indies scored over ten runs per over in the final half of the innings as they gathered 106 runs from the last 59 balls.
The revival started with a 23-run, sixth wicket stand between Sammy and Russell, and continued with an exhilarating 53-run, seventh wicket stand off 23 balls between Sammy and Brathwaite.
Sammy belted six fours and a six while Russell counted a four and three sixes but it was Brathwaite’s cameo – which included three fours and two sixes – that gave West Indies much needed impetus.
He and Sammy combined to plunder 17 runs from the 15th over sent by pacer Mitchell Marsh and they followed up by taking another 17 runs from the next over from seamer Andrew Tye (2-35).
When Brathwaite perished in the same Tye over, Sammy and Ashley Nurse, who finished on 12 not out, then posted a vital 37 in an unbroken eighth wicket partnership to see West Indies home safely.
Hazlewood’s hat-trick had earlier handed Australia the advantage. He claimed Jason Holder – promoted to opener – for six with the second ball of his second over and then bowled Marlon Samuels and Dwayne Bravo without scoring off successive deliveries.
Opener Johnson Charles (14) and Denesh Ramdin (11) also fell cheaply to leave West Indies in deep trouble.
Opting to bat first earlier, Australia started strongly but were pegged back by medium pacer Bravo and left-arm spinner Sulieman Benn, to finish on 161 for nine off their 20 overs.
Bravo claimed four for 21 and Benn, three for 37, as the Aussies declined from 106 for one in the 12th over to lose eight wickets for 55 runs.
Opener Shane Watson top-scored with 60 from 39 balls, striking four fours and four sixes. He put on 76 for the first wicket with Aaron Finch who scored 33 from 24 balls, and a further 30 for the second wicket with captain Steve Smith whose 36 required 29 balls.
Brathwaite was brilliant in his three overs of seam, taking three for 16.
West Indies will now turn their attention to their opening group game of the T20 World Cup at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai where they take on England on Wednesday.
Australia vs West Indies
A Finch c Holder b Benn 33
S Watson c Nurse b Bravo 60
S Smith lbw b Bravo 36
U Khawaja c wkp Ramdin b Brathwaite 5
G Maxwell b Benn 0
M Marsh c Sammy b Benn 2
P Nevill c Ramdin b Brathwaite 4
J Hastings b Bravo 10
A Zampa b Bravo 2
A Tye not out 0
Extras (lb4, w4, nb1) 9
TOTAL (9 wkts, 20 overs) 161
FOW: 1-76, 2-106, 3-114, 4-115, 5-117, 6-136, 7-151, 8-160, 9-161.
Bowling: Russell 3-0-22-0, Taylor 3-0-31-0 (w1), Holder 1-0-15-0 (nb1), DJ Bravo 4-0-21-4, Benn 4-0-37-3, Nurse 2-0-15-0 (w1), Brathwaite 3-0-16-2 (w2).
J Charles c Maxwell b Smith 14
J Holder lbw b Hazlewood 6
M Samuels b Hazlewood 0
DJ Bravo b Hazlewood 0
D Ramdin lbw b Zampa 11
A Russell c Finch b Tye 29
D Sammy not out 50
C Brathwaite c Maxwell b Tye 33
A Nurse not out 12
Extras (lb4, w3) 7
TOTAL (7 wkts, 19.5 overs) 162
FOW: 1-18, 2-18, 3-18, 4-27, 5-49, 6-72, 7-125.
Bowling: Watson 4-0-36-0 (w2), Hazlewood 4-1-13-3, Marsh 4-0-28-0, Zampa 4-0-35-1 (w1), Smith 1-0-11-1, Tye 2.5-0-35-2.