Australia Romp to Victory

A fantastic display by Australia’s seam bowlers ensured a comfortable win over the West Indies in the DLF Cup final. Stand-out performances from Brett Lee, Nathan Bracken and Glenn McGrath ensured that the West Indian chase never got on top of the required rate, and the lamentable lack of batting depth that has plagued the West Indies during the tournament hurt them once again.

Australia’s day began well, with captain Ricky Ponting winning the toss and electing to bat, but he soon regretted the decision as Australia struggled through the first 25 overs of their innings. While the wicket was not unreasonably favourable for the bowlers, the same early-over seam movement that has been present throughout the DLF Cup was accompanied by wear and tear similar to a 5th day test wicket. Even part-time spinners like Michael Clarke found significant purchase throughout the match, and more than one delivery kept lower than expected.

Shane Watson opened with Simon Katich, and the all-rounder was hitting the ball well before edging a Bradshaw delivery to Chris Gayle at slip. Katich struggled through the early part of his innings, looking uncomfortable against Ian Bradshaw’s seam movement and failing to rotate the strike, and things got more difficult for the Australians when Ricky Ponting was trapped in front by a Jerome Taylor delivery that kept low.

Katich managed just 11 runs from his first 50 deliveries, but he and Damien Martyn slowly began to assert themselves as the power play overs drew to an end. Katich hammered a glorious six and appeared ready to increase the scoring rate before an attempt for more runs off Chris Gayle’s bowling resulted in a simple catch at long-off. Martyn was joined by Andrew Symonds and the two added 73 runs in a crucial 15 over stand before Martyn too holed out at long-off going for a big shot. Symonds took the dismissal of Martyn as the signal to begin a controlled assault on the bowling, racing to his half century and forcing the introduction of Sarwan to the attack in an attempt to frustrate him out with balls pitched outside leg stump. The plan worked, despite the rising run rate, and Symonds presented Morton with an easy catch, out for 52.

Hussey, Clarke and Haddin did as they have all tournament, and turned a below par Australian total into a genuinely defensible one with some good late-over batting. The last 10 overs yielded over 70 runs, and the partnership between Hussey and Haddin was worth 40 off just 23 deliveries. Hussey added another not out to his growing tally, 30 off 24 this time, and Haddin continued to impress in the series where he has confirmed his qualities as back-up to Adam Gilchrist.

The target of 241 for the West Indies was never going to be an easy one, but Australia’s sensible approach showed how to handle batting on a wicket where quick scoring was difficult. Brett Lee cut down any hopes of a quick start to the chase, trapping Gayle in front with an unplayable swinging yorker first ball. Support at the other end came from a typically miserly McGrath, and then from Bracken, who found some movement through the air and put the ball in the right area without fail. Chanderpaul struck some promosing boundaries, but Runuko Morton was clearly under instruction to let nothing remove him from the crease, resolutely defending every delivery on his way to a record breaking 32-ball duck. Bracken dismissed him LBW and then had Chanderpaul caught attempting an unncessary big shot, and suddenly the West Indies were 20-3 after 10 overs and in desperate trouble.

While there was hope for a West Indian recovery with Lara and Sarwan at the crease, those hopes were quickly dashed by some poor fortune and some more quality bowling. Lara was adjudged caught behind by umpire Benson when the only thing he hit as his pad, and Shane Watson continued a fantastic personal series with two wickets in an over. First there was Bravo who was caught in two minds by a bouncer, and then Hinds who was decieved by a perfect inswinger after a handful of deliveries that moved away off the pitch and clean bowled.

The game was over at 56-6, but Dwayne Smith presented the crowd with some entertainment in a quickfire 30, with some support from the resolute Sarwan at the other end. Fittingly, the West Indies lost their last 4 wickets for 7 runs, in a series where epic batting collapses have plagued them at every turn. A terrific direct hit from Ricky Ponting had Sarwan caught short, and then Brett Lee blasted out the final three wickets to bring his tally to 12 in just 3 matches for the series. Australia’s winning margin of 127 runs was no flattery, as they displayed not only superior quality with the ball, but also a certain determination with the bat that was sorely lacking in the woeful West Indian chase. Both sides will now return home to prepare for next month’s Champions Trophy, but the mood in the two camps will be decidedly different.

Australia 240-6 (50)
Andrew Symonds 52 (59), Damien Martyn 52 (77)
Ramnaresh Sarwan 2-21 (4), Ian Bradshaw 2-30 (10)

West Indies 113 (34.2)
Ramnaresh Sarwan 36 (64), Dwayne Smith 30 (30)
Brett Lee 4-24 (8.2), Nathan Bracken 3-16 (7)

Australia win by 127 runs.
Australia win the DLF Trophy.

CricketWeb Man of the Match
Nathan Bracken – 3-16

CricketWeb Man of the Series
Brett Lee
8 runs @ 8.00
12 wickets @ 9.00, economy rate: 3.97

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