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COLOMBO: It was a massacre of the kind we'd always expected from the might of West Indian batting. After blitzing to the highest total in this edition, thanks to Chris Gayle's pyrotechnics, the West Indies unscrewed Australia's chase wicket by wicket on Friday night, winning by 74 runs to enter their first ICC World Twenty20 final. The upbeat Calypso Kings will take on the home side, Sri Lanka, for the title on Sunday.
Electing to bat, Darren Sammy's side posted a mammoth 205-4 as Gayle's unbeaten 41-ball 75 formed the centrepiece around which other batsmen pivoted their aggression. 14 sixes and 13 fours came from the bat as Marlon Samuels (26), Dwayne Bravo (37) and Kiero Pollard (38) partnered Gayle in brisk alliances against an Aussie pace and spin attack that appeared increasingly tattered as the innings progressed. The assault reached a crescendo in the final over when Xavier Doherty's left-arm spin was condemned for 25 runs, as Pollard rained sixes upon the crowd.
An untimely implosion
Australia's chase was headed nowhere from the start. They lost their first six batsmen with 43 on the board, and although skipper George Bailey blasted a blinder of his own - a 29-ball 63 including four sixes - none of the other batsmen reached 20 on a night of humiliation for the Aussies. Ravi Rampaul (three for 16), Samuel Badree (two for 27) and Sunil Narine (two for 17) starred with the ball, while Pollard too added a couple of wickets to go with his frenetic 15-ball 38. The Aussies were dismissed for 131 in 16.4 overs.
Leg-spinner Badree opened the bowling and drew first blood when he bowled the dangerous David Warner. Michael Hussey, who was always going to be central to the chase, perished when he was caught and bowled by Samuels. Badree struck again when he pushed one past the in-form Shane Watson, and Cameron White snicked Ravi Rampaul to the wicket-keeper down the leg side. Two more wickets - David Hussey chipping back to Rampaul and Mathew Wade undone by Sunil Narine - added to the mess.
The asking rate was nudging 14 when Bailey began his hit out, but it was a bridge too far, and when the skipper fell in the 14th over, it was only a matter of time and by how much. It could be assumed that when Australia began their chase they were still reeling from Pollard's final-over flourish in the West Indian innings, which appeared like a cherry atop the mountain of runs plundered by almost the entire middle order. Gayle, who faced just 41 deliveries, made them all count and featured in key partnerships with Samuels, Bravo and Pollard.
Gayle hits out
Sammy elected to bat and once again Johnson Charles deprived Gayle of the strike, before perishing to an edge off Starc that was taken by the 'keeper. Gaye had faced just 14 balls in the first nine overs, and it was Samuels who struck the first blows, carting sixes off Brad Hogg and Doherty and driving Cummins for four. Samuels was castled by a Cummins slower ball, allowing Dwayne Bravo to take over.
Meanwhile, Australia was starting to wilt under the attack. Wade let slip a full toss to concede four byes and Starc's wide swinging delivery went running down the leg side for five wides. The gears shifted ominously in the 15th when David Hussey came on. Gayle struck a six and two fours as 19 were taken. Bravo was out after adding 83 in 51 balls with Gayle.
Gayle, who appeared to be troubled by an abdominal spasm, then got into his own. He reached his fifty in 29 balls as the Windies gained 150 in the 17th over, and he and Pollard struck regular boundaries against Watson and Cummins to keep the board ticking. But it was in the final over that the match appeared to slip irrevocably from the Aussies. Doherty came on, was greeted by Gayle with a six, and then brutalised for three more hits over the fence by Pollard, as 25 came from the last six balls. For Australia, whose Starc and Cummins had kept it tight at the start, the 73 runs leaked in the last five overs of the West Indian innings cost them dear.