Lara defies Hussey heroics

A Brian Lara special ensured a West Indian victory in the fourth match of the DLF Cup, despite a late batting collapse. Lara combined with Chris Gayle in a stunning stand of 151 for the third wicket in the chase of 273, and eventually finished with 87 off 80 balls.

However, the early part of the day belonged to Lara’s opposite number, first time Australian captain Michael Hussey. Hussey won the toss and elected to bat on a fairly good wicket, but he soon regretted the decision as Australia slumped to 105-5. The rot began when a mix-up between the openers led to Simon Katich’s run out for 22. Katich worked the ball through the off-side and turned for what appeared to be an easy third run only to have Matthew Hayden remain unmoved at his end.

Katich’s dismissal was followed quickly by Shane Watson, Andrew Symonds and Michael Clarke for single figure scores, and after a brief consolidation Hayden threw his own wicket away with a brainless flick to Taylor, who was waiting behind square on the leg side. At 5 down for 105 with 25 overs remaining, Hussey was joined by ‘keeper Brad Haddin, and the two began a phenomenal 6th wicket stand. Both batsmen were content to preserve their wicket at first, with Hussey in particular finding the singles easy to come by as Brian Lara looked to protect the boundaries. The first 10 overs of the stand yielded less than 50 runs, but after Hussey reached his half-century, Haddin signalled the intention to increase the scoring rate with a series of massive sixes off the bowling of Samuels and Gayle.

The last 12 overs of the Australian innings yielded 108 runs, as Hussey and Haddin both reached their highest ODI scores. With four overs remaining Hussey was still 24 short of a maiden ODI century, but he was simply unstoppable in the final overs, first slog-sweeping Gayle for a flat six, and then hammering Bravo straight over the sightscreen and out of the ground. Consecutive boundaries off Taylor in the 49th over brought up the century, and even the dismissal of Haddin in the final over couldn’t take the shine off a remarkable Australian fightback.

Despite Australia’s never-say-die attitude, this match was to have a different result to the last time these two teams met, and for all Hussey’s heroics with the bat, he can certainly be criticised for some unimaginative leadership in the field. Things began well for the Australian bowlers, with Brett Lee grabbing an extremely fortunate early breakthrough when Chanderpaul was given caught behind to a ball that flicked his pad. Bracken was then rewarded for a tight line with the wicket of Ramnaresh Sarwan, and with the required rate moving above 6 per over when Lara arrived at the crease, Australia appeared in the box seat.

The turning point in the match was the introduction of Stuart Clark to the Australian attack. Clark’s second over went for 17 runs, and his third for 21, and with Gayle racing to 40 the run rate suddenly looked far less ominous. Hussey responded to the assault by delaying the final power play overs, but Lara took over from Gayle with some calm batting under the circumstances, picking up singles at will off the bowling of Andrew Symonds, and launching a controlled attack against inexperienced off-spinner Dan Cullen.

It was only the accurate bowling of Shane watson that kept the West Indian run rate in check, and when he was removed from the attack and replaced with Stuart Clark it signalled the beginning of the end for Australia. After one tight over Clark went for 9 and 8 off his 5th and 6th, and when Hussey was forced to take the final power play due to the shrinking target, Clark responded with a horrific over in which he not only was hammered about the park by Gayle and Lara, but also overstepped three times and bowled three wides.

Following the assault on Clark the West Indians only needed 88 from 20 overs, and the chase seemed a formality. Clark registered figures of 0/87 off 7 overs, and Hussey seemed reluctant to use Cullen for fear of more runs. Australia recieved a boost to their flagging hopes when Shane Watson returned for his second spell, removing Gayle for 79 and conceding just six runs in three testing overs. Brett Lee maintained a good line at the other end, but Lara once again controlled the pace of the game flawleslly, and saw Bravo through the tough period without incident.

Watson began to suffer late in his spell, but Lee continued the faint hopes of an Australian victory with the dismissal of Lara for 87. Just 31 runs were needed when Lara became the fourth man to go, but the West Indian batsmen set about manufacturing a collapse to rival the 9 for 29 they lost in the opening DLF Cup match. Wayvell Hinds crumbled under the pressure of a couple of tight overs by swinging at a wide Lee delivery and finding an edge, and Michael Clarke threw down the stumps in spectacular fashion to run out Marlon Samuels. In the very next over, Andrew Symonds bowled Dwayne Smith off his pads, and the West Indies needed 18 to win with only 3 wickets in hand.

Thankfully, Dwayne Bravo was there to see out the final runs, with some help from a huge Baugh six off Symonds next over. The West Indies now move to the top of the DLF Cup table and are guaranteed a spot in the final.

Australia 272-6 (50)
Michael Hussey 109* (90), Brad Haddin 70 (77)
Ian Bradshaw 2-35 (10), Dwayne Bravo 2/52 (9)

West Indies 273-7 (47.2)
Brian Lara 87 (80), Chris Gayle 75 (93)
Brett Lee 3-46 (10), Andrew Symonds 1-27 (5.2)

West Indies win by 3 wickets.

CricketWeb Man of the Match
Michael Hussey

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