World Cup champions Australia dethrones West Indies to take ICC Champions Trophy
By Tony Cozier
November 6, 2006
THE West Indies began their defence of the Champions Trophy title against Australia in Mumbai yesterday with the ferocity of a Mike Tyson assault only to crumble like a timid, unworthy contender at the first sign of retaliation from their resilient opponents.
A typically brutal opening partnership of 49, with a six and nine fours, off 5.1 overs between Man-of-the Tourna-ment Chris Gayle and Shivnarine Chanderpaul was transformed into a dismal 138 all out with as many as 29.2 of their allocated 50 overs unused.
Their attempt to drag themselves off the floor and still make a fight of the tournament final after removing Adam Gilchrist and Ricky Ponting cheaply was interrupted for a couple of hours by rain with Australia 45 for two off 10 overs.
The target was reduced to 116 off 35 overs when play resumed, a straightforward task for the present era's most powerful team that has won the last two World Cups but had never even reached a Champions Trophy final.
Shane Watson and Damien Martyn ensured they added that prize as well without further loss in an unbroken partnership of 103, completing a comprehensive victory by eight wickets with 41 balls in hand.
As they did in their semi-final victory over South Africa last Thursday and against the same Australians in the opening DLF Cup match in Kuala Lumpur in September, Gayle and Chanderpaul set the West Indies on their way with a volley of audacious strokes off the first five overs. The bowling spearhead, Brett Lee, was hammered for 36 off his opening three.
Even after Chanderpaul was out to the first ball of the sixth over for 27 (18 balls, one six, four fours), Gayle, brimming with the confidence of two earlier hundreds, continued to pound the bowling with such savagery that Glenn McGrath, as shrewd a bowler as the game was known, was pulled for two long sixes in conceding 22 off two overs on replacing Lee.
The battering visibly, but only briefly, threw captain Ponting and his men into flabbergasted confusion but they have had enough recent experience of the fragility of the West Indies middle order not to be overly concerned.
Once Gayle was bowled by the fourth ball of the tenth over for 37 off 27 balls, with six thumping, middle-of-the-bat fours to add to his McGrath sixes, the remaining seven wickets tumbled for 58 off 20.1 overs with hardly another stroke in anger.
It was simply a repetition of recent batting meltdowns.
In the opening match in the DLF Cup in Kuala Lumpur in September, Gayle and Chanderpaul pounded 136 off 18 overs. After Gayle was out, the innings subsided to 201, all ten wickets going for 65, the last eight for 25.
In the previous final between the teams, also in the DLF Cup, the West Indies were routed for 113 and Sri Lanka skittled them for 80 in the qualifying round in this tournament.
It is a habitual weakness that compromises the undoubted advances they have made in the one-day game.
As for Australia, it was confirmation of the all-round strength and self-confidence that have made them the successors to the potent West Indies teams of the previous era. It was significant that the bowler who changed the direction of the match was their least considered.
Nathan Bracken, the tall, 29-year-old left-arm swinger in his 45th ODI, dismissed both Chanderpaul and Gayle and, in between, Ramnaresh Sarwan in six overs with the new ball that cost only 22. He was not required again as, one after the other, the West Indies batsmen capitulated meekly.
Before the match, Australia's coach John Buchanan nominated Bracken's early swing as a key component of his attack. While Lee and McGrath were being taken apart by the rampant openers, the left-armer was unfazed.
He struck in his third over when Chanderpaul, shaping to cut, played on to a ball that came back, rather than moved away.
In his fourth, he induced a leading edge as Sarwan aimed to leg. The result was a simple catch to mid-on.
In his fifth, he produced the delivery of the innings, as he needed to, to dislodge Gayle. It breached the powerful left-hander's defence to pass the outside edge, take off-stump and end another explosive performance.
It was all Australia after that as the remaining batsmen simply froze. Captain Brian Lara put it down afterwards to "a bit of stage fright".
With Gayle out of the way, McGrath returned and normal service was resumed. He reeled off three maidens in his remaining five overs, conceding another two runs and removing Lara, his old adversary in at No.5, and Runako Morton in the process.
The scoreboard entry against Lara was familiar - caught wicket-keeper bowled McGrath - as the record-breaking left-hander tickled a catch that Gilchrist grabbed, diving low to his left. It was his fourth successive single-figure score.
Morton's method was the same, the catch more straightforward.
By now, Australia were unstoppable, aided by a succession of strokes - and, in Dwayne Bravo's case, no stroke at all - prompted by tension.
Marlon Samuels flicked Shane Watson into mid-wicket's lap and Carlton Baugh missed a cross-haul from the same bowler.
Bravo resisted for 47 balls for 21 before he chose to kick away Brad Hogg's chinaman that would have hit middle stump, and Ian Bradshaw, unable to repeat his heroics of the 2004 final against England, was yorked by Lee.
West Indian bewilderment was typified by the last wicket, Corey Collymore's thoughtless run out on Andrew Symonds' direct hit.
Long before then, the match was effectively over.
Although Bradshaw had Gilchrist taken at first slip and Taylor dismissed Ponting for the third time in their last four matches to encourage a sizeable, pro-West Indian crowd only the rain delayed the inevitable.