Johnson stars as Aussies overcome brave Windies
by AFP

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

DateLine: 26th September 2009


Fast bowler Mitchell Johnson hit 73 as title holders Australia flourished in the closing overs to launch their ICC Champions Trophy campaign with a 50-run win over the West Indies Saturday.


But the anticipated slaughter of the innocents never materialised because the outsiders shrugged off the absence of their best players owing to a contract dispute and improved markedly on a midweek drubbing from Pakistan.


The defending champions were sent in to bat at the Wanderers stadium and finished their 50 overs on 275-8 before restricting the West Indies to 225-9 off 46.5 overs with injured Dale Richards unable to bat.


Australia began disastrously in a rematch of the 2006 Mumbai final they won by eight wickets with Shane Watson bowled off the first ball by a late swinging yorker from Kemar Roach on his return in place of Tino Best.


Enter skiper Ricky Ponting to steady the innings with 79 runs off 94 balls, including nine fours and a six, before missing a well flighted delivery from Nikita Miller and Chadwick Walton sent the bails flying.


A middle-order slump saw the defending champions surrender three wickets cheaply before Johnson demonstrated that his skills extend beyond the ball on a hot, clear day in the South African financial capital.


Johnson survived a scare when in single figures to amass his unbeaten 73 off 66 balls in an innings that included eight fours and three sixes and fellow bowler Brett Lee (25) proved a solid partner before being run out.


Miller, top scorer with 51 in the five-wicket defeat by Pakistan at the same venue three days ago, was the most successful Windies bowler, taking two wickets for the loss of 24 runs with the 10-over stint including a maiden.


Expectations were high for Gavin Tonge after his four-wicket haul against the Pakistanis, but he could not repeat the feat and finished without a wicket and conceded 55 runs.


Devon Smith scored two consecutive fours at the start of the West Indies innings to signal that the batting collapse that saw them plunge to 47-7 in midweek would not be repeated.


He made 17 before being caught by Tim Paine off the bowling of Peter Siddle and then Andre Fletcher and Travis Dowlin lifted the 2004 champions to 124 before the former was run out for 54 by Johnson.


Another five balls and another Windies wicket fell with wicketkeeper Walton attempting to take the cover off the ball only to get an inside edge into the stumps.


Having stayed just ahead of the required run rate for some time, the West Indies slipped owing to a dearth of boundaries and a spectacular Paine catch saw top scorer Dowlin exit after contributing 55, including five boundaries.


Darren Sammy did manage two sixes and a four in a 20-run stay, but wickets fell at regular intervals with Watson, Siddle and Nathan Hauritz turning the screws to ensure success.

(Article: Copyright © 2009 AFP)