West Indian powerhouse Chris Gayle smashed more sixes in one innings than any Australian batsman has in three games to power his team to an emphatic, series-clinching third straight T20 win in St Lucia.
There are now serious questions about Australia’s World Cup credentials after another sub-par batting effort was shown up by 41-year-old Gayle.
The self-proclaimed “Universe Boss” smashed seven sixes and four fours as he scored 67 runs off just 38 balls as the West Indies reeled in Australia’s total of 6-141 with 31 balls to spare.
Gayle, who became the first player in history to pass 14,000 T20 runs, set the tone early in his team’s run chase, taking 19 runs off Josh Hazlewood’s opening over.
He also hit Aussie quick Riley Meredith, who was brought into the team as one of three changes, out of the Darren Sammy Stadium with a 97m maximum.
Australian selectors brought in Meredith, who finished with 3-48, in place of spinner Ashton Agar, a move that backfired.
The West Indian spinners combined for 3-53 from nine overs, which, along with Gayle’s efforts, proved the difference in the game.
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The Aussies once again took a knee in solidarity with the West Indian players before the game and then were left reeling after batting first, struggling to just 6-141 off their 20 overs.
Australia scored just 11 runs off the final two overs.
Skipper Aaron Finch hit his first boundaries in three games to mount some sort of attack for his team before being undone by some brilliance in the field.
Amid a well-constructed slow down from the home team, who bowled eight straight overs of spin after the opening six overs, Finch was caught trying to launch Hayden Walsh Jr out of the ground.
It took a one-handed effort from Fabian Allen after a juggle from teammate Dwayne Bravo, but Finch, out for 30 off 21 balls, was the second wicket in the 13th over as the Aussies fell from 2-79 to 4-81.
Australian selectors made three changes, bringing in Meredith Ashton Turner and Alex Carey for Agar, Ben McDermott and Ryan Phillippe.
Finch, who hadn’t hit a four in the opening two games, scoring only 10 runs, won the toss for the third time but this time chose to bat first.
“Obviously, we didn’t chase too well in the first two games,” Finch said. ”Hopefully, put a total on the board and put some run-rate pressure on.”
Everyone took a knee in Saint Lucia. Picture: Randy Brooks / AFPSource:AFP
Matthew Wade hit the first ball for four, but it was a battle for any real momentum after that.
Wade was out in the fifth over for 23 off 16 balls, and Mitch Marsh, Australia’s leading run-scorer for the series, went for just nine.
Carey in at four, played a reverse sweep for four form his first ball, but was out not long after for 13.
Only a 59-run partnership from Moises Henriques (33 off 29) and Ashton Turner (24 off 22) salvaged a score which was never going to be enough.
“We just kept losing wickets, it didn’t give the batsmen the freedom to score more,” Henriques said.
In the absence of several first-choice batsmen, including David Warner and Glenn Maxwell, the Aussies struggled through the opening two games.
Philippe and McDermott managed just 23 runs between them in four innings to start the series before being omitted.
But senior assistant coach Andrew McDonald said things would “evolve” through the five-match series.
“It’s about exposing what you think can potentially be your middle order players for the long term,” McDonald said.
“You’ll see tactics evolve depending on the conditions throughout the series. The key is to judge this group over five matches.”
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