Marlon Samuels smashed 92 to lift West Indies to a four-wicket win against Australia in St Kitts on Monday.
The victory for the hosts was probably not a favourable scenario for the Proteas as it leaves Australia and the Windies on two victories apiece and occupying the top two spots, making Wednesday’s clash against the islanders a must-win one in the Proteas’ bid to make the final.
Samuels certainly enjoys being the match-winner. The last time he scored a fifty against Australia was 15 years ago, and a lean spell with the willow followed his 85 not out against England in the World T20 final in April.
Australia failed in key points throughout the match, including the untimely dismissals of Usman Khawaja and Steve Smith, before Khawaja put down two catches early on in the Windies’ innings. Their decision to rotate Mitchell Starc has backfired too. The paceman is being integrated back into the side slowly after recovering from injury, but they were missing his venom in the pace attack.
Missing the services of David Warner who has a broken finger, Khawaja and Smith were boosted one place up the order and they relished in their roles, putting on a 170-run stand for the second wicket. Just as they were building up some steam towards the back end of the innings however, Smith fell for 74, before Khawaja fell two runs short of a maiden ODI century, run out trying to attempt a third run. George Bailey finished well with a half-century of his own, but they would have to settle for 265-7.
A blazing start from Andre Fletcher and Johnson Charles laid the platform for the Windies in response. They shot to 40 inside the first four overs. Their 74-run stand was done inside 10 overs, before James Faulkner had Fletcher for 27.
There were useful contributions from the middle order from there, but it was Samuels’ knock that allowed them to surge to victory. In a frantic 41st over, he struck three sixes in a row before he was expertly run out by Matthew Wade for 92. But the damage was already done, as Kieron Pollard, who seems to be adding ‘finisher’ to his master blaster status, saw off the remaining runs.
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