It was a breezy night in Colombo; the smoke should have cleared from the ground. It didn’t.
The Australians were forced to play perpetually under this hazy cloud of doom. Every time a West Indies player hit a six the fireworks went off, sometimes straight at them, as if to add burn wounds to the wounds from Chris Gayle and Marlon Samuels. The wounds from Gayle were largely self-inflicted as Shane Watson dropped him before he’d even got started.
It was perhaps only this smoke cloud that slowed West Indies down.
George Bailey spent so much time talking to his bowlers his voice must have turned into the mwa mwa mwa mwa of the adults in Peanuts. Always with a calm look, and even a smile. I wonder if he has two smiles, and whether long-term team-mates of Bailey can tell the difference from his natural smile and the one he puts on as he jogs over as someone looks for the ball. A few more nights like this, and Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc and Glenn Maxwell will be able to tell the difference.
Bailey tweaked, shuffled, changed, renovated, modified, adjusted and occasionally transmogrified his fielders. He could do nothing to stop the magnificent monstrous murdering that the West Indies batsmen dished out on his hapless bowlers. Bailey has been under much pressure from fans, Ian Chappell and about the non-selection of David Hussey – he didn’t need a night like this.
That would have been how I’d written the game up if the rain had came an hour earlier. Yet 9.1 overs into the Australia innings, they’d made West Indies look like slow movers. David Warner didn’t even need Watson at the start, he was on mission of destruction, and might have been unlucky to be given caught behind. From there Mike Hussey and Watson hit the ball wherever they pleased. They hit it hard, hit it often, and by that magical 9.1 over mark, it was only the biblical downpour that could stop them.
The question mark over Australia is their Hussey-less middle order, with Mike at No. 3 and David carrying the drinks, it seems their most likely weakness. It would have been a great test for them in this innings. Had West Indies got any wickets, the middle order would have been given a brilliant platform to chase a large total in a match that didn’t matter if they won or lost.
Instead they ended with an easy 17 run D/L win, the pressure of the final overs lost under inches of rain.
People will still question Bailey’s job, the bowlers ability to stop the flow and the seemingly questionable middle order, but Australia has won two from two so far, which is quite far from the apocalyptic visions earlier in the night or before the tournament began.
Result: My pick to win the whole tournament bowled like cricket had been invented just to embarrass them, and they dropped a catch even the Afghanis would have laughed at. Shane Watson was MOTM, and when the happens, the whole world smiles.