Taylor hat-trick downs Australia
Jerome Taylor claimed a thrilling hat-trick to complete West Indies’ incredible transformation in fortunes and seal a dramatic victory over Australia.
Dismissed for 80 just days before in the final qualifying match for the ICC Champions Trophy by Sri Lanka, West Indies were expected to be cannon-fodder for the tournament favourites in Mumbai.
But instead of capitulating, West Indies demonstrated the determination and desire which helped them win the tournament in England two years ago, and they claimed a 10-run triumph over Ricky Ponting’s stunned side.
Chasing West Indies’ competitive total of 234 for six, Australia seemed on course for a comfortable triumph with Adam Gilchrist guiding them to within 53 of victory with nine overs remaining.
Just as the finish line was in sight, however, Gilchrist was run out backing up and fast bowler Taylor returned to the attack in stunning fashion to dismiss Brad Hogg, Brett Lee and Mike Hussey in successive balls.
West Indies captain Lara had taken the brave gamble to bat first after winning the toss, which almost backfired when they slipped to 63 for four with Australia taking wickets with the new ball.
It took another stunning performance by inspirational captain Lara to turn the innings around, batting carefully at first and scoring just three off the opening 27 deliveries.
While Lara was subdued, West Indies were reliant on man-of-the-match Runako Morton - brought into the side after Shivnarine Chanderpaul withdrew with food poisoning - to provide the aggression.
He signalled his intent by driving his first ball from all-rounder Shane Watson for four and provided all the aggression during the early stages of the crucial 127-run stand off 176 balls.
By the time Lara rediscovered his rhythm and began hitting boundaries - seven fours and two sixes - Australia were already in despair as captain Ponting missed Morton on 41 when he mis-timed an attempted straight drive off Nathan Bracken high into the air.
That missed opportunity was to prove vital and by the time the partnership was broken when Lara drove old rival Glenn McGrath straight to cover, West Indies had progressed into a strong position.
Even Lara’s departure could stop their momentum and with Morton finishing unbeaten on 90 off 103 balls, West Indies were able to plunder an impressive 67 runs from the final 10 overs.
Without Lara to lead the side in the field - he sustained a lower-back strain while batting - West Indies made a vibrant start under Ramnaresh Sarwan’s captaincy with seamer Ian Bradshaw claiming the key wickets of Watson and Damien Martyn while Taylor induced Ponting into playing on as Australia slumped to 81 for four inside 20 overs.
But Gilchrist, forced into a more cautious role than normal because of the loss of the early wickets, successfully teamed up with Michael Clarke in a 101-run stand.
Their partnership infuriated West Indies and in particular Chris Gayle, who lost his trademark cool and began a long-running war of words with Clarke which threatened to undermine his side’s chances of victory.
At every opportunity Gayle had a word with Clarke and will have gained great satisfaction for his role in ending Gilchrist’s innings with nine overs remaining after he was sent back for a quick single.
Clarke had guided Gayle’s off-spin to short third-man and called for a single only to change his mind, but Gilchrist was unable to beat the throw to the non-striker’s end.
Australia were now reliant on Clarke to see them home, but with three overs remaining he was undone by clever all-rounder Dwayne Bravo, who took a simple return catch with a slower ball.
But it was Taylor who was to seize the spotlight, returning to the attack in the 48th over and bowling Hogg with a straight delivery and then trapping Lee with his next ball to finish the over.
Needing 16 off the final over for victory, Taylor claimed the dramatic hat-trick with the first ball by bowling Hussey, rated as the world’s best one-day batsman, with the first ball and begin West Indies’ celebrations.