Australia’s ICC Champions Trophy campaign got off the worst possible start in Mumbai overnight after it failed by ten runs to track down the West Indies’ first innings total of 234.
After weathering a decidedly shaky start, the Aussies were seemingly cruising at 5-206 with five overs in hand when Dwayne Bravo caught and bowled Michael Clarke (47), sparking a collapse at the bottom end of the batting order.
Glenn McGrath and Nathan Bracken were the not-out batsmen with the score on 9-224 after exciting quick Jerome Taylor put the game out of the Aussies’ reach with a hat-trick spread across the 48th and 50th overs.
The 22-year old paceman will no doubt have put a broad smile on the faces of many Windies cricket followers, not only with his late innings burst, but with the fearsome pace he generated throughout his allotted ten overs.
Regularly pressing over the 140km/h mark, Taylor unsettled the Australian top-order, and smashed a fearsome riser into the helmet of Damien Martyn early in his innings.
Australian captain Ricky Ponting was less than impressed with his side’s performance, admitting they let the game slip.
Australia held a commanding position at various times throughout the match. At one stage the Windies – forced to negotiate a qualifying series to even make the elite eight-team field – were looking wobbly at 4-61 before master batsman Brian Lara engineered their escape route with a well-crafted 71 from 91 balls.
Runako Morton was the mainstay of the innings, coming to the crease at 3-47 and guiding his team to 6-234 with an unbeaten 90 from 103 balls.
Nathan Bracken was Australia’s only multiple wicket-taker, finishing with 2-42 from his ten overs.
The apparently modest target of 235 was never going to present a simple task, especially considering the Windies were routed for a paltry 80 in a match against Sri Lanka at the same Brabourne Stadium just a week ago.
The total was made to look even more daunting when the Shane Watson-as-opener experiment fell flat on its face after the all-rounder departed without scoring. The Aussies were soon in trouble at 4-81 before Adam Gilchrist and Clarke mounted their own rescue bid, taking the score to 182.
When Gilchrist was run out after a terrible mix-up, the Aussies still appeared to be cruising, however the late innings heroics with the ball by Taylor ensured his team’s morale-boosting win.