Australia claimed victory in the first Twenty20 International against the West Indies at St Lucia, after strong batting performances from Captain Shane Watson and Michael Hussey.
Australia, who narrowly avoided being beaten in the ODI series, were extremely pleased to have drawn first blood in the Twenty20 International series.
Captain Watson, was happy that the team preparations had finally all come together, and said: “It’s nice, good to be able to put a complete performance together.”
Coming into the match, Australia had only won three out of their last eleven Twenty20 International games, while the West Indies had only won two out of seven.
West Indian Captain, Darren Sammy, won the toss, and chose to bat on a pitch that looked very promising for the batsmen.
The West Indian openers, Dwayne Smith and Johnson Charles, looked confident as they made their way out to the crease with the home fans cheering them on.
The pair, got off to a quick start, and were looking good, as they knocked the ball into the gaps and started to chance their arm, which resulted in boundaries.
However, after putting 19 runs on the scoreboard, Smith, tried to play a cut shot at a delivery, but ended up getting a huge nick, which was easily taken by wicketkeeper Matthew Wade.
Johnson Charles, started to take advantage of some short pitched bowling, as he placed the ball beautifully between the fielders, and watched it run all the way to the boundary, while new batsman, Nkrumah Bonner, started off his innings at a much slower pace.
Charles, started to chance his arm a bit too many times, and this proved to be fatal, when he tried to hammer one across the line, but, was instead his on the pad, which led to the umpire getting him out without hesitation.
After Charles departed, Bonner and Darren Bravo, started to smash the Australian bowling attack all over the ground, as they tried to maintain a strong run rate in order to have some chance of defending their final score against the Australians.
With the runs now flowing, the Australian Captain, had to try and remove one of the batsmen, before their partnership became out of control.
Australian all-rounder, Daniel Christian, provided the breakthrough, when Bravo, attempted a pull stroke that caught the toe of his bat, which ended up straight in the hands of James Pattinson at deep midwicket.
The Australians, struck almost immediately after Bravo had departed, when Christian, produced an absolute peach of a delivery that beat the bat of Bonner, and crashed into the top of middle stump.
West Indies big man, Kieron Pollard, at this point could no longer stand idly by and watch his team collapse one by one, as he launched into the Australian bowling attack, dispatching them for boundary after boundary and six after six.
Pollard and Dwayne Bravo, started to build a solid partnership with a high run rate, which was exactly what the West Indies needed after losing so many quick wickets.
Pollard, provided most of the big hitting entertainment, while Bravo, was happy just to keep the scoreboard moving and give the big man most of the strike.
With the partnership past the half century mark now, and Pollard within striking distance of his own half century, Daniel Christian, yet again provided the wicket the Australians so badly needed, as Bravo tried to hit a lofted drive for six, but instead found David Hussey at long-off, who made no mistake with the catch, which ended the Bravo’s innings on 14, and the 62 run partnership he and Pollard had put together, at a run rate of 12.82.
Meanwhile, Pollard, was nowhere near done with his innings, as brought up his half century from only 20 deliveries, which is now the fastest fifty by any West Indian in a Twenty20 International.
However, Pollard, was starting to run out of partners at the other end, as Captain Darren Sammy, who played a sparkling innings in the final ODI against the Australians, failed to do so once again, as he was caught at long-off by David Hussey, when attempting to clear the boundary ropes.
The partnership between Pollard and Carlton Baugh lasted for a shorter time, as Baugh, sacrificed his wicket, after Pollard slipped when taking a run.
Pollard, managed to stay unbeaten on 54 at the end of the innings, while propelling the West Indies to a decent total of 150.
Daniel Christian proved to be the best of the Australian bowling attack today, as he took three wickets, while Brett Lee picked up two, and Watson, chipped in with one.
Facing a target of 151 to win, the Australian openers, Captain Shane Watson and David Warner, knew that they had to get the team off to a quick start.
However, quite the opposite happened, as Warner, could not get off the mark for the first four deliveries of Krishmar Santokie. This started to frustrate Warner, which caused him to lose his wicket the very next ball, as he tried to play across the line of a straight delivery, which clattered into his stumps.
With the early loss of Warner, Michael Hussey, a very experienced Twenty20 International player, joined his Captain at the crease.
Together, the pair tormented the West Indian bowlers, as they cracked boundary after boundary and ran hard to keep the pressure on the fielders as well.
Watson, who did not have a particularly good ODI series, proved why he still belonged in the squad, as he went on a rampage, leaving the West Indians in absolute tatters.
Once the pair brought up their half century stand in quick fashion, things only got worse for the West Indies.
Watson, soon brought up his half century from only 38 deliveries, after smashing a delivery all along the ground to the boundary, while, Hussey, kept his innings moving steadily along.
The pair, looked in top form, as nothing West Indian Captain, Darren Sammy, threw at them seemed to work.
When the hundred partnership came up, the Australians, looked to be cruising to victory with plenty of overs to spare.
However, Watson, then fell to a good catch by Kieron Pollard at the deep midwicket region, off the bowling of Garey Mathurin, ending his innings on 69 from 43 balls, which included five boundaries and six massive sixes.
George Bailey, joined Hussey out at the crease, and from there, the pair started to guide the Australians to victory, while the West Indian players and fans, could only watch in absolute disbelief.
Hussey, brought up his own half century from just 40 balls, causing a huge cheer from the Australian fans in the crowd.
Bailey sealed things off with a blistering four past the midwicket region, giving Australia an eight wicket victory, and sparking a huge celebration from the dressing room as well.
Michael Hussey, remained unbeaten on 59 off 43 deliveries, including four boundaries and two huge sixes.
The West Indians looked absolutely distraught, as the Australians huddled round after knowing that they had drawn first blood in the series.
Krishmar Santokie and Garey Mathurin, were the only West Indian bowlers, to get a wicket each in the Australian innings.
West Indian Captain, Darren Sammy, thought his squad had not posted enough on the board, and that there were some improvements that needed to be made to the team. “We were looking for about 170 but the Australians bowled well and maybe outplayed us today. We have one more game in Barbados and hope to change things there. We might try to add some firepower to the bowling for the next game” he said.
Australian Captain and Man of the Match winner, Shane Watson, thought that the bowlers did a good job in limiting the West Indian batsmen, and had a special mention for one of them as well. “I was thinking 160-170 was a par score, it’s a beautiful wicket and a pretty small boundary as well, so we thought 150 would be good to chase. One of Pollard’s big hits chopped up the ball a little, so that helped us with reverse swing, so thanks big man … With the bat, it’s getting there, I’m definitely hitting the ball better now” he said.
With Australia taking a 1-0 lead in the series, the West Indies, will have to bring everything they have to end the series as a tie, when the two nations square off in the final Twenty20 International on Tuesday 30th March at Bridgetown, Barbados.