Mirpur: Chris Gayle started with flair while Darren Sammy finished with a flourish as West Indies got the better of Australia by six wickets in an exciting Group 2 League encounter of the ICC World T20 on Friday.
Opting to bat, Australia scored a competitive 178 for eight in 20 overs, riding on Glenn Maxwell`s 45 and Brad Hodge`s 35. West Indies got the runs with a couple of balls to spare.
Needing 31 off the last two, Sammy (34 no, 13 balls) smashed Mitchell Starc for 19 runs in the penultimate over to bring the equation down to 12 in the final over bowled by James Faulkner. The skipper hit two fours and three sixes.
After two dot balls, Faulkner bowled a full-toss that Sammy hit over long-off for a six to bring the equation down to six from three balls. Sammy then hit the next straight over the bowler`s head and threw his bat running towards the dug-out as his delirious mates joined in the celebration.
Sammy had said yesterday that he doesn`t care whether "James Faulkner likes West Indians or not" but he gave a fitting reply to the bowler as Gayle again did the Gangnam jig with vengeance as poor Faulkner could only look on.
The win brightened West Indies` chances for a semi-final berth while Australia will find it difficult to make a comeback in the tournament.
After a couple of relatively quiet matches, Gayle picked up the Australian attack for some special treatment. He set the tone from the third delivery of the second over bowled by left-arm speedster Mitchell Starc. Starc pitched it up outside the off-stump and was smashed through covers with bare minimum footwork.
The next was a fuller delivery on the middle and was hit over the bowler`s head that just dropped in front of the ropes. The next two back-of-the-length deliveries were pulled through mid-wicket and square leg region.
In the next over from Doug Bollinger, Gayle got his first six of the game with a pull over square leg fence. His second six was a flat-batted hit over long-on off Shane Watson.
With Gayle picking up the tempo, it became easier for Smith at the other end, and he did his bit with an uppishly driven four off Starc that brought up the team 50 in 4.2 overs.
Starc did get the better of Smith with an away going delivery that he nicked for 17. Meanwhile, Gayle completed his 11th T20 International half-century off only 31 balls. But it was the 20-year-old unheralded leg-spinner James Muirhead, who brought cheers for the Aussie camp getting Gayle out for 53 off 35 balls. He tossed one up inviting the Jamaican to come out and the batsman found out Maxwell at deep mid-wicket. Gayle's knock had six fours and two sixes.
Once Gayle was out, Australia hoped of getting back. Lendl Simons (26), who had a fruitful 51-run stand with Gayle, pulled a rising delivery from Bollinger as Maxwell again took a well-judged catch at the deep square leg boundary.
Marlon Samuels (12) wasted precious deliveries at the fag end as the match slipped out of West Indies' grasp. Dwayne Bravo hit Muirhead and then Starc for two huge sixes to keep West Indies in hunt.
Earlier, Maxwell (45) and Hodge (35) made useful contributions as Australia put up a decent 178 for eight on board after George Bailey elected to bat. David Warner (20) and Aaron Finch (16) started well, with the latter hitting leggie Samuel Badree for a six and couple of boundaries as Australia raced to 33 in no time.
But Finch paid for his indiscretion when he tried to mindlessly slog Samuels over deep mid-wicket. Badree, who was hit for 15 in his first over from the Pavilion End, saw his end being changed and it paid dividend.
He got a straighter delivery which Warner tried to cut. There was very little room and the delivery came straight in to disturb the timber. Shane Watson (2) failed to read a doosra from Narine and was stumped by Ramdin.
At 41 for three, Maxwell and Bailey got together for a brief but entertaining partnership of 36 runs
in only 3.5 overs before the skipper got out for 12.
Maxwell picked up Sammy for some special treatment as he was hit for a couple of boundaries and a six. The best came off Samuels when Maxwell slog-swept him into the deep mid-wicket stand. He picked up a flighted delivery from Badree to deposit him over extra-cover. Maxwell's 45 came off 22 balls and was studded with five fours and three sixes.
Hodge, as usual, played an important innings to prop up the score before he tried to reverse sweep a 'carrom ball' from Narine.
Narine (2/19 from 4 overs) was the best bowler on view while Badree (2/37 in 4 overs) and Samuels (2/19) shared the spoils.