Dubai: A clash between Australia and West Indies is between two teams that meets fire with fire. Both play the same brand of cricket and believe in aggressive approach. In such high stakes clash, where neither is willing to give another an inch to manoeuvre, Mitchell Starc’s two wickets in the 46th over should be the turning point of Australia’s victory.
When West Indies skipper Jason Holder and Carlos Brathwaite were comfortably taking their side to victory, Australia skipper Aaron Finch gambled and brought the fearsome left-arm pacer early, even though Starc would not have bowled the last over, to give break the partnership, which was threatening to take the match away from Australia.
The gamble paid off and Brathwaite was dismissed, caught by Finch off a low full toss, off the third ball and three balls later Holder, who steadied the innings after the exit of Shai Hope, was dismissed while attempting a pull, caught by Adam Zampa at short fine leg. The wickets of Holder-Brathwaite, who had put on 36 runs for the eighth wicket in about the same number of deliveries, enabled the world champions keep the winning record intact with Starc finishing with a five-wicket haul, giving Australia a 15-run win.
The West Indies had Australia on the ropes, reducing the defending champions to 79 for five. Former skipper Steve Smith produced another gritty knock before Nathan Coulter-Nile showcased his batting skills, counter-attacking the West Indies bowlers with a 60-ball 92. The all-rounder, who was dropped twice, once on 61 and again late in his innings, feasted on the wayward West Indies bowling, hitting at will to give Australia a winning total. On the contrary, the Australians once again were on the money, bowing a tight length and saving many runs and taking some tough catches, which made a telling difference.
The West Indians must be kicking themselves after frittering away a golden chance with needless bravery, when all was required was sensible approach with singles and twos and hitting the loose deliveries to boundaries along the carpet. The last four overs produced only 19 runs, with 16 coming off the last four balls. The way the West Indies folded, it is a case of history repeating itself when the Caribbeans capitulated in the 1996 World Cup semi-finals, which Australia won by five runs. West Indies chasing 206 for win crumbled from 164 for two to 202 all out.
The West Indians look solid to go all the way, but certainly need to tighten their game and give fewer extra runs, which stands at 27, including 24 wides. One can also sympathise with the West Indians, who were on receiving end of some pathetic umpiring where Chris Gayle and Jason Holder had to resort to DRS to get their errors overturned. Bad decisions are part and parcel of cricket and umpires are only humans, but all wrong decisions going against one team certainly deserves a thorough investigation.