Aussies move on - Windies will know today
Tony Cozier in Manchester - 30 May 1999
Australia spent the first five hours of their final group match at dank, chilly Old Trafford yesterday thrashing the inadequate West Indies to ensure their own advance to the next round of the World Cup.
Then, with captain Steve Waugh directing the cynical, but understandable, strategy in the middle, they occupied the last hour-and-a-half deliberately trying to carry their beaten opponents into the Super Sixes with them.
Net run rate is virtually certain to determine the one remaining place from the group and, as winning points are only carried over from victories over fellow qualifiers, Waugh readily andunapologetically admitted afterwards that he and Michael Bevan deliberately stretched out their unbroken fifth wicket partnership of 49 to 132 balls to make the task of the other contenders, New Zealand, overhauling the West Indies more difficult.
Should New Zealand advance, they would keep the two points for their earlier victory over Australia and Australia would have none, a distinct disadvantage.
If Waugh's tactics achieve their objective and the West Indies go through, Australia will have the two points from yesterday's triumph, the West Indies none.
It is as simple, and as complicated, as that.
New Zealand end their first round today against the weakest team in the group, Scotland, who have lost all their four matches. Their run rate at present is +0.00136, well behind the West Indies' +0.49729 and Australia's +0.75874.
It is a situation to excite degreed mathematicians, who will be working overtime with their calculators on behalf of the New Zealanders, and to have captain Brian Lara and his West Indies team - and Waugh and his team - watching the television coverage from Edinburgh today with intense interest.
New Zealand should find no difficulty winning and drawing level in the table with Australia and the West Indies with three victories from their five group matches. But they will have to be particularly urgent in attending to run rate, in complete contrast to the way the Australians did yesterday.
Once Australia exposed the West Indies' batting frailty and confined them to 110 all out from 46.4 struggling overs, their first aim was to make sure they didn't falter themselves in their quest for an obligatory victory.
As always, Curtly Ambrose, supported by the support staff and three breathtaking catches by Ridley Jacobs, Jimmy Adams and Shivnarine
Chanderpaul, kept West Indian hopes of another of his many miracles alive with bowling that underscored his quality.
He had Mark Waugh edging a low catch to wicket-keeper Ridley Jacobs, forced a deflection off left-hander Adam Gilchrist back into the stumps and owed the wicket of Darren Lehmann, another left-hander, to Adams flying, left-handed grab at backward point.
When Chanderpaul ran in from deep square-leg, threw himself forward and came up with a grass-high catch to dismiss the hooking Ricky Ponting off Reon King, Australia were 62 for four half-way through the 20th over and a packed crowd of 20 000 that had had little value for its considerable entrance fee of £40, suddenly came to life.
A keen contest seemed to be developing after all. The prospect soon vanished into the cold Manchester air.
Steve Waugh battled through early uncertainty during which he edged the impressive Reon King on the half-volley to Stuart Williams at first slip and edged Courtney Walsh through vacant second slip for four.
But he could not be moved. The left-handed Bevan was immediately into his stride, forcing two square boundaries off the back foot within his first three overs, and gradually victory was in sight.
Once the captain was satisfied his team's position was impregnable, Plan B, for block, was implemented.
Utterly undeterred by a chorus of jeering and booing, the two Australians patted back half-volleys, left deliveries wide of off-stump alone and turned down palpable singles.
The object now was not victory, since that was certain, but damage limiting to the West Indies' run rate.
In the end, it took a wide and a no-ball in the 41stover to carry Australia to their ultimate goal, Waugh purposely taking 73 balls over 19, Bevan 69 balls over 20.
It was all caused by West Indies batting that resurrected horrid memories of the 93 against Kenya in the 1996 World Cup, the 51 against the same Australians in the first Test last March and any number of similar indignities over recent years.
Obliged to bat first for the first time in the tournament after Waugh won the toss, they could not cope with the conditions, the sharp bowling and fielding of the fired-up Australians or their own technical and temperamental deficiencies.
Their woes were triggered by an old and feared adversary, Glenn McGrath, who committed them to their unequal struggle, by removing Sherwin Campbell and Adams with successive balls with the second and third balls of his third over and the prize victim, Lara, with the second ball of his fifth.
Campbell deflected a leg-cutter low to second slip's right where Mark Waugh made a difficult catch look easy. Adams, lunging forward with bat tucked in behind front pad, was clearly lbw.
It needed a special delivery to remove Lara, 15th ball. Pitching middle, it passed Lara's backfoot defensive bat on the outside and hit the top of the off-stump
From 20 for three there was no way out for a team with Stuart Williams at No.6, Phil Simmons at No.7 and four non-batting fast bowlers bringing up the tail. Only Jacobs, with the uncomplicated, level-headed commitment that has made him the most valuable addition to West Indies cricket in years, prevented an even more humiliating route.
He batted through the innings for 49, only the fourth batsman in One-Day Internationals to go through all 50 overs. He was untroubled by any of the 142 balls he faced and held on so that he could raise 39 from his last two partnerships with King and Courtney Walsh.
On Lara's dismissal, Chanderpaul, recovered from the fever that kept him in bed the previous day, held the fort for 14.1 overs with his fellow left-hander, adding 44 in an attempt to steady the innings.
He fell unluckily in Shane Warne's first over, dragging on a ball wide of off-stump. Williams, pulling Tom Moody's long-hop to midwicket, and Simmons, familiarly diverting Damien Fleming into his off-stump, followed in the space of three overs and, if the tail had not yet started, it had now.
The old combination of McGrath and Warne finished off the tail with two wickets each and the result was as good as settled.
Australia then set about settling the Super Six for the final Super Six qualifier as well.
Source: The Barbados Nation
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