Somewhere over Colombo is a cricket ball launched into orbit by Chris Gayle, and Australia’s hopes of winning its first ever World Twenty20 crown went with it.
Gayle carried his bat for the West Indies in the semi-final at Premadasa Stadium on Friday night. He had only about a third of the strike, taking 41 balls to crunch 75 not out.
The Australians were slaughtered by 74 runs, bundled out in the penultimate match after conceding the biggest total of the tournament, and then collapsed for 131 in 16.4 overs.
The West Indies will face host nation Sri Lanka in the final on Sunday in an effort to provide Caribbean cricket with its greatest boost since they won the Champions Trophy in 2004.
For Australia, the semi-final will leave some scars, especially among its battered bowlers. Xavier Doherty, in particular, will not in a hurry forget his last over to Gayle and Kieron Pollard. The middle order was exposed, just as it was by Pakistan’s spinners in the last Super Eights game, even after a switch in personnel.
David Hussey, finally called up for his first game of the tournament at the expense of Glenn Maxwell, endured a traumatic return. With the ball, the Hussey encountered Gayle at his most devastating. Then, coming to the crease at 4-42, the experienced batsman was greeted with a short ball, and caught and bowled by Ravi Rampaul for a second ball duck.
Shane Watson and David Warner, who needed a powerful start for Australia to have a hope of chasing down such a lofty target, were both bowled by the spin of Samuel Badree for single-digit scores.
Needing a miracle, captain George Bailey cut loose, striking six fours and four sixes in an admirable 63 from 29 balls, his best score in Twenty20 matches. Still the game was out of reach.
Gayle earlier lifted the West Indies to 4-205, striking five fours and six sixes without breaking his calm exterior except to smile when one of his batting partners did something special.
Marlon Samuels, Dwayne Bravo and Pollard all took their turns at attacking the boundaries at different times, and Gayle seemed happy enough to let them soak up the strike.
Hussey’s second over of brisk spin wasn’t a bad one, but 19 runs still came from it. A mis-hit went for four, a six was launched into the second tier of the grandstand and when Hussey speared in a yorker to finish the over, Gayle squeezed it to third man to raise his half-century from 29 balls.
Mitch Starc, sporting a bruise on his chin sustained while attempting to stop one of Gayle’s drives from sizzling to the boundary, suffered the indignity of seeing a perfectly reasonable ball ramped over the shoulder of Kieron Pollard for four.
Pat Cummins did his best to slow the rampage with wickets. Samuels had no sooner smoked a boundary through extra cover than he was bowled by a clever slower ball. The young Australian also broke the 83-run stand between Gayle and Bravo, who was caught at cover for 37.
Doherty had the misfortune of bowling the last over at Gayle and Pollard. The sequence went like this: six, single, six, six, six, wicket. But by the time Pollard was caught in the deep (where else?) the allrounder had struck 38 from 15 balls and the West Indies had one foot in the final.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.