Go out with a bang is what they say. Well, the West Indies top order certainly had that intention as they blasted their way to a mighty impressive start.
"Wickets boys, wickets will be what gets us back into the game", is what Matt Wade said from behind the stumps. Logical most might say, but it was highly valid in the context of the game.
It looked like Wadey was on the money. Only catch was the Windies went out with a bang with the ball in hand to baffle our mid to lower order batsmen. The wickets didn't matter with the result as the boys just didn't get enough runs to chase down the Windies. Rather disappointing but no shortage of entertainment!
Well done to Shane Watson for his man-of-the-series award.
Result: Australia lost by 14 runs. (T20 series drawn 1-1)
West Indies: 160 all out. Brett Lee 3-23, Clint McKay 2-24, Shane Watson 2-26.
Australia: 9-146 from 20 overs. David Warner 58 (43), George Bailey 24.
The Windies openers were outstanding and really brought the Kensington Oval to life with their perfect timing and Twenty20 big hit antics with the bat. It really was the Dwayne Smith show with sixes galore and a frightening run rate, which is what all of us as Australian supporters had to witness. Exciting nevertheless but certainly a reflection of the beauty of a batting track prepared, which the Windies took advantage of early on. With the overall result, neither team did to the full extent.
Their openers smashed our opening bowlers to bring up 72 runs from just 6.4 overs. They found themselves in a comfortable position at 3-110 but how quickly things would turn against them was a shock for their supporters. As far as I was concerned, it was a tactical stuff up from the Windies.
Having 110 runs on the board with 7 wickets in hand. There's no urgency needed especially when the 10 over mark was still two balls off. Instead it was a promotion of pinch hitters and unnecessary shots with the simple method of rock on the back foot and slam it as hard as you can. The difference was George Bailey and his bowlers were smarter.
All the Windies needed to do was consolidate the innings with smarter cricket and find some stability with their middle order. A key advantage the Windies have is the fact they have such big hitting power in the lower order. Promoting them to "go out with a bang" would have been a better tactic with 4 or 5 overs to spare instead of throwing all the big guns up top with the pinch hitter philosophy. In any case, it was a trick they missed and the fact they only managed 10 more runs than their 150 posted in the 1st T20i wasn't acceptable for them.
Good on our boys though for the brilliant control of the game, although our ground fielding was a bit mucky.
Clint McKay got things going with excellent execution of his slower balls. On these tracks that execution has to be spot on and to get 2 wickets and just giving away 24 runs is a job very well done. He foxed a number of the Windies batsmen with his variation in pace. When asked about McKay, the "he has a damn good slower ball" statement is usually my first remark.
Dan Christian and Shane Watson operated with a similar sense of action to Clint and both finished economically and went for a little more than 6 and over with wickets to their names. The medium pace bowlers proved to be effective.
Brett Lee has been having some slight difficulties. It's the nature of being a fast bowler at 35 years of age, but after the beating he took with the new ball he came back strongly for what was quite possibly his final show of fast bowling for the West Indian cricket fanatics in the Caribbean. Binga was a champ to end his game with figures of 3-23 as he rolled away the Windies lower order, while also giving Matt Wade two catches behind the stumps as he lured the big hits.
A very satisfying bowling performance and it was made public that "death bowling" issues were addressed after the ODI series. Given the evidence of the these Twenty20's it is safe to say they all worked mighty hard to rectify things, followed instruction and executed as a unit. Well done boys! Let's hope the communication continues as the next generation of fast bowlers gradually get phased into Australian limited overs cricket.
The catch is that the Windies would look for dot balls and they found plenty of them.
Our openers got off to a forgettable start. Shane Watson tried to run a ball fine to third man, a delivery from Fidel Edwards (making his comeback) that was swinging away from him and gaining steep bounce. Unfortunate because Watto was back to his usual best and naturally aggressive self during the 1st T20i. It can't be so game in, game out so it was David "Pitbull" Warner's turn.
Unlike Watto's innings the other night which was a typical Watto innings with the bulk of his runs coming from the on-side and a stack of sixes slammed to the mid-wicket region, it was refreshing to see Warner's innings which was far more versatile in placement and tempo. All due respect to Watto of course!
After getting his eye in, Warner let rip and gave the Windies bowlers a handy panel beating to spike the run rate as he found a partner in George Bailey. While our big hitter got stuck into the boundaries, Bails just worked the ball around before finding comfort in the pull shot to give himself some valuable runs. He was given a lifeline early on when Johnson Charles put down a sitter from a Bailey pull shot.
He managed to score 24 runs before giving away his wicket with an attempted slog-sweep but I must say, how was that six he bashed? Way to go Georgie!
Michael Hussey played a quick cameo role to be there to see David Warner to his 6th T20i half-century.
Huss was looking good before having a soft dismissal. It brought the younger brother David Hussey to the wicket. It didn't materialise though as Warner tossed his innings away with some unwanted running between the wickets. It was frantic and ended what had been an innings that was starting to turn into something monstrous! Splendid throw by Dwayne Bravo though.
I reckon this would've given him a huge boost of confidence before the test matches to have just let his arms loose. It did prove to be the major turning point unfortunately. Was hoping he would have had more of a dig at Kieron Pollard! Their banter was priceless.
David Warner: 58 runs (43) x5 fours, x3 sixes.
It was up to the Bushranger boys, Dussey and Matt Wade. Immediately the Windies brought on Sunil Narine to bowl to Wadey as he troubled him in the ODIs but Wadey was up for the challenge.
With 5 overs to go 30 runs were required.The issue on the back of Warner's effort was that it looks singled out in the context of the result. We needed one bloke in the middle order to deliver a Big Bash like effort.
With 28 runs needed Wadey got out to a full toss that he could have easily plugged away. Instead he returned a caught and bowled to Marlon Samuels (his second for the game) which he was gutted about!
The pressure was on David Hussey but the biggest issue was that all the momentum was drained and the required runs became tougher to get.
Needing three sixes off the last three balls, Dussey tried but his efforts were in vain. Too many dot balls in the last 5 overs brought the walls down. Clint McKay had been put in a spot of discomfort and couldn't do it. He gave himself room and couldn't get near very much, even if they were taking him down with his very own tactic of the slower ball. The Windies took the game.
Kind of fitting that the ODI series was drawn and now the Twenty20s were drawn as well.
There was hard fought cricket, close games, another tied match featured between Aus and the Windies (3rd ODI) but the boys will be disappointed with the outcome. There were positives though but the Windies have certainly surprised us with their performances. Well done to the them and hard luck boys. The series was played in good spirit as well with tough cricket on display. Next time we'll get 'em.
It's time for the pinnacle of the game, Test cricket!
I am very confident about our chances heading into the Test series and I am excited to see the return of our squad from the Border-Gavaskar 4-0 victory. Come on Aussies!
Article regarding the Australian Test Squad is available via this link.
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