DHAKA – Maybe Australian bowler James Faulkner should have kept his mouth shut.
Before yesterday’s match in the World Twenty20 Championship, Faulkner had said he didn’t “particularly like” the West Indies. Adding fuel to that fire, was that the teams are sharing a hotel in downtown Dhaka, constantly passing each other in the foyer and dining areas.
The West Indies took their anger out on the trash-talking Aussies, and followed their improbable victory with a joyous celebration, showing they still have some great dance moves.
West Indies captain Darren Sammy produced an electrifying, unbeaten cameo to propel the defending champions to an exciting six-wicket win over the Aussies, keeping alive their hopes of a semi-final spot.
The aggressive power-hitter finished on 34 not out from a mere 13 balls as the men in maroon chased down a challenging 179 – their highest ever successful chase in T20s – to win with two balls to spare.
Sammy’s incredible shot making left his teammates so filled with adrenalin, they came onto the field and started their Gangnam Style dance, led by Chris Gayle.
Sammy, the obvious Man Of The Match, put on an invaluable 49 runs off 21 balls with Dwayne Bravo, whose important 27 came from 12 deliveries, to pull the Caribbean side around from 130 for four in the 17th over.
Gayle had earlier given West Indies a flying start with a top score of 53 off 35 balls, posting an opening stand of 50 with Dwayne Smith (17), before adding a further 51 for the second wicket with Lendl Simmons, who chipped in with 26 from 24 balls.
But with West Indies requiring 12 from the last over, Sammy twice cleared the ropes, banging Faulkner off the third and fourth deliveries, to deliver a breathtaking win and spark chaotic celebrations among teammates at the Shere Bangla Stadium.
Sammy, who counted two fours and three sixes, had set the stage for his heroics in the penultimate over when he launched a ferocious assault on left-armer Mitchell Starc in an over that cost 19 runs.
The Windies’ hopes had dimmed a bit when Sammy was held scoreless from the first two balls of the final over but he deposited the third ball – a full toss – over long off to revive his side.
With six needed from the last three balls, Sammy opted for the sensational over prudence, clobbering Faulkner for a straight six and sprinting off towards square leg in jubilation before the ball had landed beyond the ropes.
“Like I said in the pre-match Press conference, talk is cheap,” Sammy said, moments after the reporters at the press conference had given him a surprise ovation. “Cricket is a game of action. You can talk all you want but it is the action that matters. West Indies acted today. It feels very good to bring it home. We fought for it. Faulkner will not like us anymore.
“The DJ was playing Gangnam Style. Chris is the leader of our dance group. We are just happy. We play with flair and passion. It was not pre-planned, it just comes out with the celebrations. It feels good to beat the Australians.”
That Faulkner had got under the West Indies players’ skin was evident from the start of the game. When Glenn Maxwell and Faulkner were caught in the boundary by Bravo, the send-offs had an extra edge to them.
Maxwell was shocked by Samuel Badree’s reaction to dismissing him, and he gave some of it back during the West Indies innings when he caught Gayle on the boundary. With the bat in hand, Gayle had started aggressively against Mitchell Starc. Sammy had even celebrated after hitting his first six.
So when Bailey handed the ball to Faulkner, who had conceded only 15 runs in his first three overs, it invigorated the captain. “I didn’t care who was bowling,” Sammy said. “We had to get 12 runs. But you feel better when it is the guy who was talking a lot before the game. He bowled some good yorkers but I stayed low and got under the ball.
“It is just a good feeling, it was a crucial match for both teams. We handled pressure better than them.We needed two big hits and we back ourselves as a six and four-hitting team. Two sixes in the end there was what we needed.”
The victory, their second straight following their win over Bangladesh on Tuesday, lifted the Windies temporarily to the top of Group 2 with four points. They face Pakistan in their final game next Tuesday.
Earlier, the Windies produced a measured performance to hold the Aussies to 178 for eight off their 20 overs, after they had been asked to field.
Slow stuff did the job for the Windies as off-spinners Sunil Narine (2-19) and Marlon Samuels (2-20), along with leg-spinner Samuel Badree (2-37) all picked up two wickets apiece.
Glenn Maxwell top scored with 45 from 22 balls while Brad Hodge got 35 off 26 deliveries, but no other Aussie batsman really got going.
Australia threatened to get away to a flyer, with the dangerous David Warner and Aaron Finch adding an enterprising 33 from 22 balls.
However, Samuels bowled Finch for 16 in the fourth over as the right-hander missed a slog sweep and Badree followed up in the next over, also rattling Warner’s stumps as the left-hander made room to cut. (BA)