By VINODE MAMCHAN
(Abu Dhabi, UAE)
Oh how the mighty has fallen! Two-time World T20 champions West Indies will now have to undergo a qualification phase to enter into the next World T20 in one year’s time in Australia,
This was all because they dropped out of the top eight teams in the World by the cut off date as they lost their final match of this World Cup to Australia by eight wickets at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Saturday evening.
Australia on the back of a smashing 89 not out and Mitchell Marsh 53 made light work of the West Indies bowling to take Australia into the semi-finals of the tournament.
It was a sad day for West Indies cricket as in addition to Australia easily chasing down their 158, they saw the final day’s play from two stalwarts in Chris Gayle and Dwayne Bravo. Gayle the Universe threatened to finish fine but two sixes off the nine balls he faced was just a faint reminder of what the great left hander had achieved in his T20 career. He fell for 15 runs to playing on to Pat Cummins. Bravo coming later in the innings played his trademark drive over cover for six inside out but made only 10.
The West Indies after racing to 31 off their first three overs, was soon reduced to 35/3 as Gayle, Nicholas Pooran (4) and Roston Chase (0) all fell quickly. Skipper Pollard held the innings together with 44 off 31 balls including a six and four fours. Evin Lewis attacked early when the Windies were sent in and racked up 29 off 26 balls with five fours, three of which came in succession of the first over bowled by Josh Hazelwood. The right arm seamer went for 19 off his first over before coming back and getting the last laugh as he grabbed 3/39 off his four overs.
Shimron Hetmyer again looked good and made 27 off 28 balls before he was dismissed looking to step on the gas. This followed his impressive 81 not out against Sri Lanka on Thursday at the same venue.
Australia, needing to win to guarantee a place in the semis then raced off the blocks early in their chase of the target. Warner and skipper Aaron Finch looked pleasing to the eyes as they looked attractive in getting the early runs. With 33 runs on the board after just three overs Akeal Hosein got to celebrate but this meant the Aussies had started well. Hosein was good in the phase as he toolk 1/7 off his first two overs before coming back later with Warner and Mitchell Marsh set to concede 22 from his next two.
Warner played some ferocious cuts and pulls on his way to a brilliant . From the moment Marsh entered he looked as if he was batting all night before as he was ready. Playing some elegant languid shots through the off side he ran the West Indies fielders ragged on the huge acreage. The two took Australia to within one run of victory when Marsh gave Chris Gayle a wicket as his final act in international cricket. He drove the Universe Boss to Jason Holder at mid off having scored 53 off 32 balls with two sixes and five fours. He and Warner added 124 runs for the second wicket off 12 overs and three balls.
Warner then drove Roston Chase to the boundary to formalise the Australian victory with an unbeaten 89 off 56 balls with four sixes and nine fours.
The West Indies will have to fight for a place at the next tournament in Australia as a Qualifying phase awaits them. They had to endure a similar fate just before the 2019 ICC World Cup 50 overs format in England. Having also won that tournament two times before, the West Indies qualified at the tournament in Zimbabwe but failed to impress at the World Cup failing to reach the knockout phase.