Colombo: Australian batsmen on Saturday gave a fitting reply to Chris Gayle and Marlon Samuels` power-hitting as they defeated the West Indies by 17 runs via the Duckworth-Lewis method in a ICC World Twenty20 group league game, which stopped 9.1 overs into the second innings.
Chasing a daunting target of 192, the Aussie trio of David Warner, Shane Watson and Michael Hussey took the Caribbean attack to the cleaners, scoring 100 for one after 9.1 overs when the heavens opened up.
When rain stopped play, the D/L par score was 83 and Australia were well ahead courtesy some big hits by their top-order batsmen. While Warner was out for 28, Watson was unbeaten on 41 off 24 balls with two fours and three sixes, while Hussey was undefeated on 28 from 19 balls with three boundaries and a six.
Watson bagged his second Man-of-the-Match award for his all-round show as he also got the prize scalp of Gayle (54 off 33 balls), who along with Samuels (50 off 32), set the tone for West Indies` mammoth total.
To achieve such a huge target, the Aussies needed a good start, and Warner provided the counter-attack.
The left-hander started with a lovely cover drive off Fidel Edwards and then got 20 off the second over bowled by Ravi Rampaul that included two fours and two huge sixes. One was an upper cut and the other was a pull over deep square leg region.
The stocky opener scored 28 in no time but Edwards had the last laugh when he got a caught behind decision in his favour, which left the batsman unhappy. The replays didn`t show any edge and the reason for Warner`s displeasure was well understood. Watson scored 28 in 13 balls with three fours and two sixes.
When Warner was dismissed, Watson hadn`t faced a single delivery but took off from where the former left. He found an able alley in Hussey as both found a boundary or six per over.
The turning point certainly was Samuels` over which was the eighth of the innings. The over yielded 22 runs with 21 coming off Watson`s blade. He hit two fours and two sixes but was lucky when Dwayne Smith, at deep mid-wicket boundary, not only dropped a sitter but also saw the ball sail over for a six. Watson was on 28 then.
The Australian score jumped from 69 to 91 and when the downpour started, George Bailey`s men had the match in their pocket.
Earlier, smashing half-centuries from Gayle and Samuels helped West Indies post a competitive 191 for eight after Darren Sammy decided to make first use of the pitch.
While Gayle made a blistering 33-ball 54, Samuels didn`t lag behind as he raced his way to a 32-ball-50, with almost all the West Indian batsmen making merry on a Premadasa strip where the ball came onto the bat nicely.
The mayhem started in the fifth over bowled by young Pat Cummins. After getting a measure of the bowlers during the first 12 deliveries, Gayle decided to cut loose. The first was a typical swat over point and the next two were pull shots in front of the square and then came the first six which was hit over deep square leg.
The over yielded 18 runs and West Indies were off the blocks. While Dan Christian forced Johnson Charles (16) to play one onto his stumps, Gayle got the momentum going in his favour, hitting the bowler for a boundary.
When chinaman bowler Brad Hogg came on to bowl, he just plonked his frontfoot and lifted him over long-on at least 10 metres past the ropes.
There was no stopping Gayle as he then launched into off-break bowler Glenn Maxwell. He just stood his ground and hit him over long-on and then into the deep mid-wicket stands to race to 46. He reached his 50 with a lucky boundary as he played all over a delivery that missed his leg-stump by a whisker. The half century came in only 26 deliveries.
Finally, it was left to Watson, who came back for his second spell to remove Gayle. It was a ball that pitched on the good length spot and Gayle who closed the face of his bat saw the ball balloon up in the air for the bowler to complete the formalities.
Gayle`s knock was laced with with five boundaries and four sixes.
Once Gayle left, Samuels who was playing the second fiddle till then, took over.
If Gayle`s hits were a mixture of brute power and timing, Samuels` were as effective.
Samuels had scored only 15 off his first 19 deliveries but the 20th one saw him flash one from Christian past point and then lifting the bowler over extra cover for his first six.
In the next over from Hogg, Samuels hit his second six over long-off and in Watson`s third over, his third and fourth sixes were a treat for the eyes.
The first one was lifted over long-on while the next was a brutal pull-shot that landed into the stands. The batsman completed his 50 off 31 deliveries but was dismissed while facing his 32nd when he couldn`t clear Warner at long-on boundary -- he ran towards his left to take a well-judged catch. Samuels` innings had three boundaries and four sixes.