COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (CMC) — Despite brisk half-centuries by Chris Gayle and Marlon Samuels which helped spur West Indies to a seemingly challenging 191-8 off 20 overs, an aggressive Australia response and rain resulted in a 17-run defeat on the Duckworth/Lewis method for Daren Sammy's team in their first match of the ICC World T20 tournament here yesterday.
When the rain swept across the Premadasa Stadium, Australia were 100-1 off 9.1 overs with Shane Watson (41 not out) and Mike Hussey (28) leading an exciting run chase.
Left-hander David Warner had set the stage with a swashbuckling 28 off 14 balls including three fours and two sixes — 22 runs coming off only the second over from fast bowler Ravi Rampaul.
The result propelled the Australians into the Super Eights as winners of Group B and left West Indies needing to beat Ireland tomorrow to advance as well, although a no-decision would also be in their favour on a superior net run rate.
It was a pity the rain intervened and prevented the match from going the distance as Australia were chasing what would have been the fifth-highest successful run chase in T20 international history.
After winning the toss, West Indies suffered an early setback when Dwayne Smith was bowled for two by an inswinger, which hit the top of the stumps from left-arm pacer Mitchell Starc with the score on eight in the second over.
Gayle and Johnson Charles then took the score to 47 in the sixth over before Charles played on off the gloves to fast-medium Daniel Christian for 16 off 12 balls as he tried to run the ball down to third man.
It let in Samuels and showing a good understanding with fellow Jamaican Gayle, the pair lifted the tempo in fine style. Gayle, dropped on four at third man by Watson off Starc, topcored with 54 off 33 balls including five fours and four sixes, while Samuels emerged from a quiet start to clobber 50 off 33 balls, which contained three fours and four sixes.
Left-hander Gayle hit 41-year-old left-arm spinner Bradd Hogg for six over long-on in the fifth ball of the seventh over to move to 35 off 21 balls with four fours and two sixes and greeted off-spinner Glenn Maxwell with another six over long-on and a pull over midwicket for six as well, which carried 95 metres.
Player-of-the-Match Watson atoned for his early miss when he had Gayle caught and bowled off the leading edge, having added 46 in 4.5 overs with Samuels.
Samuels and Dwayne Bravo (27 off 21 balls) then sustained the tempo, putting on 47 in 5.2 overs for the fourth wicket before Samuels was caught at long-on by Warner off Hogg.
Starc was the leading wicket-taker with 3-35, while Watson picked up 2-29 — both off four overs.
Warner batted in his usual attacking style and seemed baffled when he was given out caught at the wicket by Denesh Ramdin off pacer Fidel Edwards as he essayed a drive off the first ball of the third over with the score 30.
But Watson's 24-ball knock inclusive of three fours and two sixes and Hussey, who faced 19 balls while striking three fours and one six, ensured Australia were ahead when the rain came.
The onslaught was underlined when off-spinner Samuels was struck for 22 in the eighth over including two consecutive sixes — the second a flat pull which went through the hands of Smith just inside the midwicket boundary.
As soon as Rampaul was brought back for a second spell, it started to rain cats and dogs and West Indies knew that their wayward bowling had undone them in the face of the D/L method.
D Smith b Starc 2
C Gayle c and b Watson 54
J Charles b Christian 16
M Samuels c Warner b Hogg 50
D Bravo b Cummins 27
K Pollard c Hussey b Watson 10
D Sammy c Warner b Starc 12
D Ramdin b Starc 3
R Rampaul not out 0
S Narine not out 4
Extras: (lb10, w2, nb1) 13
Total (for eight wickets, 20 overs) 191
Fall of wickets: 1-8 (Smith), 2-47 (Charles), 3-93 (Gayle), 4-140 (Samuels), 5-162 (Pollard), 6-171 (Bravo), 7-187 (Sammy), 8-187 (Ramdin)
Bowling: Watson 4-0-29-2 (w1), Starc 4-0-35-3 (w1), Cummins 4-1-41-1 (nb1), Christian 3-0-29-1, Hogg 4-0-30-1, Maxwell 1-0-17-0
D Warner c Ramdin b Edwards 28
S Watson not out 41
M Hussey not out 28
Extras: (w1, nb2) 3
Total (for one wicket, 91 overs) 100
Fall of wicket: 1-30 (Warner)
Bowling: Edwards 2-0-16-1 (w1), Rampaul 11-0-23-0 (nb1), Narine 2-0-16-0 (nb1), Sammy 2-0-15-0, Samuels 1-0-22-0, Bravo 1-0-8-0
Australia won by 17 runs (Duckworth-Lewis method)
Toss: West Indies
Umpires: Aleem Dar (PAK) and Asad Rauf (PAK)
TV umpire: Kumar Dharmasena (SRI)
Match referee: Ranjan Madugalle (SRI)