To speak of a tied match between Australia and the West Indies should spark memories for the cricket enthusiast or historian, as this now the fourth tied match between the sides.
For 2012, the limited overs tie between the sides brought about serious drama and chaos towards the final stages of the 3rd ODI. It ensured we had a game with high tension and plenty to discuss after a result was plain and simply a tied match. Both teams missed a few tricks and will be disappointed with the result. The fact is that it was hard fought and we can guarantee that there will be brilliant interest as the teams head to St Lucia for the 4th ODI.
Result: Match tied
Australia: 220 all out from 49.5 overs. Michael Hussey 67, George Bailey 59, David Warner 37.
West Indies: 220 all out from 49.4 overs. Shane Watson 3-30, Xavier Doherty 2-30, Clint McKay 2-50.
Let's get onto the points of concern. The first one is the inconsistency within the batting order. The only change for the match was Nathan Lyon replacing Peter Forrest, so Shane Watson would have two spinners at his disposal. It turned out to be a strategically successful but this also resulted in a shift in the batting order.
Consistency remains a struggle for our limited overs team, where either the batsmen are setting good targets and not seeing our bowlers collectively defend the total, but in this series the problem has been a struggle to adapt to a very sluggish surface and impatience when putting together partnerships.
It was certainly not an easy track to bat on. This was shown by Michael Hussey, who top scored with 67 runs. Huss played the ball late and this worked effectively against the fast to medium pace bowlers. It did prove to be a challenge against the spin of Sunil Narine and Marlon Samuels. The ball was nipping through off the track, leaving a bit of a dust trail in the wake which meant playing the ball late required good instinct, quick bat speed and a really good eye. Timing remained all important but was even harder and more important against the spin. There was also no shortage of turn in the track.
George Bailey (who scored a well grafted maiden half-century) partnered Michael Hussey for a stand of 112 runs. It was a partnership that put us back on track and most importantly it gave indication as to what should be done in those conditions. Fortunately we move to another venue where we may see a better track for batting.
The innings collapse after their hard work was rather brutal as the last 5 wickets fell for 18 runs. Another area the batting group will need to address but once again, as someone not looking at excuses, even the commentators put the struggle from both sides down to a struggle to adapt on an unusual wicket. However after three games at the venue you'd imagine that they would have had a better game plan, which Huss and Bailey managed to show.
The bowling was really outstanding for the better part, backed by another excellent display of ground fielding. Our ground fielding has been the highlight for me, with each and every player giving their utmost best to save any runs possible. The good news is that the two spinner tactic did seem to work and Xavier Doherty has started to show an evident step up in the level of his game. He was also bowled towards to the death overs which was a huge learning curve for him to face head on.
Nathan Lyon managed to take his maiden ODI wicket which was a well achieved one as he took on Kieron Pollard, having been hit about the ground a little bit. A spinner willing to flight it and take on a big hitter always deserves some admiration and recognition.
Carlton Baugh really took slow scoring to new heights, but as much as you want to joke about it he nearly got the Windies over the finish line and the runs he scored were a lot more than a number of his mates. It was something like Huss and Bailey did, the only difference with our boys was better rotation of the strike and top class communication between the wickets.
Our fielding (as good as it was) saw a number of direct hits missed and this brings slight reflection on the loss of Ricky Ponting's dead eye intensity and Michael Clarke's lightning quick arm.
Fortunately Baugh hauled out for 33 but this wasn't short of any drama. Shane Watson, who bowled with smart variation and regularly took plenty of pace off his bowling, was the star of our bowling as he took 3 wickets. Two of these came in one over where he menaced Marlon Samuels and Darren Bravo but the third was the big one of Andre Russell, a man who has been vocal about his determination to become an all-rounder.
Watto bowled Andre Russell with a beautiful delivery towards to closing stages of the match. It was a wicket that had as good as killed any momentum that Baugh and Russell had built in their partnership.
Unfortunately Wattos' roar of success was soon to be silenced as the Umpires double checked the delivery and called a front foot no-ball. It was a no-ball, Russel survived and a free hit was on offer. In a comedy of errors, Watto bowled Russell again but it was on a free hit so it would be a dot ball. The partnership managed to mow on a bit.
Finally it came down to the wire as the Windies tail-enders dug deep to attack our bowlers. Brett Lee was given the final over responsibility and, after a reasonable start, Darren Sammy changed the tune as he smacked him for a four. The scores were tie and the Windies were nearly home to go 2-1 up. Watching the game I knew the tie was highly possible given the chaotic thinking of a West Indian cricketer.
Watto brought the team in close and the ball was hit to George Bailey at point. In a moment of panic and utter desperation to get the one run required, Kemar Roach set off for the single (with three balls to spare) and Sammy was hopelessly lost. The run out was done calmly and the match was tied.
Reminders of the 1999 World Cup Semi-final anyone?
For Australia it seemed like a victory in some ways but the game should have been claimed well before that, with Watto's no-ball wicket being a slight turning point in the game. On the note of Watto, he really has stepped up as the Captain and would have learnt a stack as a leader with this team. My only criticism is that he needs to try and calm down!
Watto has always been a bloke who has a slight case of white line fever and wears his heart on his sleeve. In a simple description, he doesn't hide his emotions. However, as a skipper you want to stay calm, show that you're in control and not letting errors (which can be rectified) get to you. I understand Watto's anger after that missed opportunity but the side looks up to him as a senior who is one of the most experienced players in the side. If he remains calm and in control, even if the match is going according to plan, it can still unsettle the oppositions belief that they're in the mix.
All in all, well done to the boys for managing to keep the series at 1-1 and well done to the Windies for fighting until the end in a tied match with high tension. Be sure to catch the 4th ODI!
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