DHAKA, Bangladesh, CMC – Skipper Darren Sammy produced an electrifying, unbeaten cameo to propel West Indies to an exciting six-wicket win over Australia, and keep alive their hopes of a semi-final spot at the World Twenty20 Championship here yesterday.
The aggressive power-hitter finished on 34 not out from a mere 13 balls as the defending champions chased down a challenging 179 – their highest ever successful chase in T20s – to win with two balls to spare.
Sammy put on an invaluable 49 runs off 21 balls with one-day captain Dwayne Bravo whose 27 came from 12 deliveries, to pull the Caribbean side around from 130 for four in the 17th over.
Opener Chris 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 off the third and fourth deliveries from seamer James Faulkner, 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 dimmed, however, when Sammy was held scoreless off 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.
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 first.
Spinners 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.
When Shane Watson followed for two, stumped off Narine with no runs added in the next over, Australia were slumping at 41 for three in the sixth over.
Maxwell and skipper George Bailey (12) then added 36 for the fourth over before Samuels stalled the recovery when he had Bailey taken by Sammy at short-midwicket.
Though the innings stuttered, Maxwell showed plenty momentum, smashing five fours and three sixes, as Australia reached 88 for four at the half-way mark.
Maxwell perished soon afterward to a catch by Bravo at deep mid-wicket off Badree but Haddin and Faulkner (13) added 52 to repair the innings.
West Indies then flourished, racing to 33 off three overs, in reply. Gayle, whose two previous innings had been uncharacteristically sedate, returned to his old explosive self with six fours and two sixes. He tore into Starc in the second over of the innings which cost 16 runs, blasting four successive boundaries.
Smith nicked Starc behind in the fifth over but it was Gayle’s dismissal that slowed the Windies, the left-hander holing out to deep mid-wicket off the 20-year-old leg-spinner James Muirhead.
With the required run rate climbing, Simmons was taken on the ropes at square leg and Marlon Samuels (12) continued his struggles, edging a wide one from Starc behind.
Sammy then entered with West Indies still requiring to score at 14 runs per over, and launched a memorable counterattack.