Australia scamper through for a hard fought win
by Rohit Sakunia

Ground:New Wanderers Stadium, Johannesburg
Scorecard:Australia v West Indies
Player:TM Dowlin, ADS Fletcher, RT Ponting, MG Johnson
Event:ICC Champions Trophy 2009/10

DateLine: 26th September 2009


The West Indian team gave some scare to the Australian team with their sensible middle-order batting setting a base for a late assault. But a brace off quick wickets and Reifer's inability to force the pace off the innings ultimately cost the West Indies the match. The Australian batsmen were surprised by the high quality bowling from the West Indian bowlers and then the batsmen very nearly pulled off the chase. Mitchell Johnson then threw his bat around to help Australia pose a competitive total.


On a juicy Wanderers pitch, West Indian skipper Floyd Reifer won the toss and sent Ricky Ponting's men into bat. His decision was immediately justified as Kemar Roach produced a sensational late inswinging yorker with the opening delivery to bowl Shane Watson. But lack of immediate wickets forced them back. Ponting and Tim Paine then added 85 runs and though the partnership wasn't quickfire, it still revived the defending champions from the first ball dismissal. Ponting was the aggressor of the two and encashed all the width on offer.


He took special liking for Roach who twice went for 17 off an over as Ponting let loose through the leg side. Paine then fell for 33, caught behind off Bernard after already been dropped by Walton on 16. On the other end though runs continued to flow freely for Ponting for a little while more. Australia continued to look good till they reached 148 for 3 in the 31st over. It was then when Nikita Miller began a small turnaround and brought things back in their favour. Ponting who looked set for another ton came down the pitch to drive, but was nowhere near the pitch of the ball, one which was well flighted, it turned past Ponting's bat and Chadwick Walton whipped the bails. The slow-left arm orthodox spinner gave little away. His ten overs went for 24 and he also picked up the in-form Cameron White. White waited on the backfoot after seeing the ball pitch on middle and leg. It turned across his bat and knocked back the off stump. Sammy, Kemar Roach and David Bernard also chipped in with wickets, and at 171 for 7 Australia looked in a spot of bother.


But in walked somebody who off-late has been known as one of the most destructive all-rounders produced by the game. Some serious lusty late-order hitting from Mitchell Johnson made sure Australia posted a more than competitive total in front of a depleted West Indian attack. The left-handed swashbuckler who had earlier this year hit a scintillating 96 at the same venue in a Test match against South Africa, provided the crowd loads of delightful moments. He took perfect advantage of the batting powerplay and squandered the ball to all corners of the park. Australia took the powerplay from the start of the 45th over and he and Brett Lee added an incredible 69 in those. Johnson cleared the boundary three times and finished with his highest ODI score as well.


Devon Smith began aggressively with some fierce cuts and beautiful drives to reach a quickfire 17 from 16 deliveries before a sharp bouncer from Siddle ended his innings. Fletcher and Dowlin then joined forces to punish a wayward Australian bowlers with some powerful shots to all parts off the ground. Lee bowled with pace but his radar was wayward and the both the batsmen did have much trouble in negotiating him. Fletcher and Dowlin showed excellent maturity and restraint as they concentrated in building a perfect platform for the later assault. Both the batsmen made sure that they rotated the strike well to keep the scoreboard ticking. They found the boundaries to keep abreast with the asking run-rate to put pressure on the Australian bowlers.


The pair added 86 runs in 18.5 overs and finally poor calling from Fletcher ended his innings. Walton tried to mow Hopes over midwicket only to be cleaned up for a duck. Reifer and Dowlin then put their heads down to calm the frayed West Indian nerves to put the chase back on track. Though the run-rate was not great the pair raised hopes in the West Indian camp off a possible upset. The Australian bowlers shelved their attacking options to contain the batsmen. Both the batsmen did not look troubled but more importantly for Australia the duo did not take the bowling by the scruff off the neck to put extra pressure on the Australian bowlers.


The West Indian batsmen took the powerplay in the 37th over but Dowlin got dismissed in the fourth ball. Reifer did not put the scoring up and that increased pressure on the incoming batsmen. Two consecutive sixes from Darren Sammy off Johnson gave Australia another fright when the equation came in to 66 required from 50 balls, but when Sammy was caught on the boundary their momentum disappeared.