Chanderpaul sizzles, but Aussies win as usual

SHANE WATSON WHO TOOK 4 FOR 34.-Pics. S. SUBRAMANIUM

West Indies skipper Brian Lara, who commended the efforts of Chanderpaul and Gayle, said the difference between the sides was that Australia was in the habit of winning. By S. RAM MAHESH.

No one who saw Shivnarine Chanderpaul tackle throw downs before the first DLF Cup ODI had an inkling of what was to follow. Chanderpaul dealt with the juicy lob-ups with all the ugliness normally associated with his batting. He even managed to French-cut a couple! But, the left-hander from Guyana fiercely defies stereotyping. A few months back at the Antigua Recreation Ground, Chanderpaul played glorious cover drives in an innings that had held India at bay.

At the Kinrara Oval, the 32-year-old played an innings of such violence — in contrast to his usual crabbiness — that one journalist, never lost for words, exclaimed, "This conclusively proves that Chanderpaul is mad." One could fathom where this writer was coming from: Chanderpaul has a 69-ball hundred in Test cricket; yet, he's remembered for those innings where he freezes into strokelessness. And Chanderpaul's puny frame gives little indication of the power he can generate, mostly through bat-speed.

The former captain played the innings of the match, but a mortifying collapse that saw the last nine wickets fall for just 29 runs put paid to any hopes West Indies might have harboured of winning. For, when Chanderpaul and Gayle were motoring, there seemed little Australia could do to stop them. The brilliance of the early batting effort is fore-grounded considering the strip the openers were playing on. The track was tricky: it seamed around — Mitchell Johnson got one to deviate at least half a foot at high pace — and the ball swung under the lights.

Chanderpaul played an innings of brio, walking across his stumps and tipping Bracken over the fine-leg fence, when not pulling him in front of square. He put on a rollicking 136-run opening stand with Gayle, who, despite once launching Johnson into orbit even as he fell away making the stroke, struggled to match Chanderpaul's ferocity.

But, Gayle carved Watson to point, giving the opposition a breather. Chanderpaul pummelled a few more boundaries on his way to a scatty, improbable 92 before Johnson got him with one that bounced more than he expected. The left-armer — touted as the next big fast-bowling hope in Australia — followed it up by snaring Brian Lara.

The descent from here was vertiginous. Bravo played a poor stroke, Sarwan fell again on the pull, Baugh chased a wide one. Watson finished with four, Bracken came back after a lamming to take two. Glenn McGrath started with four wides, but got his groove back to round up a satisfactory day for Australia.

"It can be really hard to stop that kind of batting," said a relieved Ponting after the game. "While the West Indian openers were going strong, we hoped to get a wicket and expose a new batsman to the conditions. But we got both of them close together and could churn out a terrific win."

Chanderpaul and Chris Gayle of the West Indies greet each other after posting 100 runs for the opening wicket.-

Ponting himself was part of the rescue effort during the first half of the match. After electing to bat, he had bustled in during the fourth over to find his side stuck. Phil Jaques had lost his off-stump to a 140.8 kmph Edwards delivery that swung in slightly. And the track was no featherbed. The situation facing Ponting was worthy of his considerable powers.

The skipper summoned his trusty pull stoke thrice in one Taylor over, as Australia went to 79 for one in 15 overs from 15 for one in five. Yet all wasn't well. The trademark Ponting forward press cover drive with the bat thudding into his left shoulder on stroke completion only trickled into the fence. He was snapped up by Bradshaw courtesy one that kept low, and hit him in front of the stumps. Simon Katich departed soon after, and it was left to Michael Clarke and the portly Mark Cosgrove to remedy matters.

Clarke looked the part from the first ball he faced, bending at the waist, steering it through off, and hustling two. On occasion, he plonked his front foot, and swung through the line. His pulling — one time merely a swivel accelerated his arms through — was magnificent. Cosgrove, who was once given an ultimatum to either lose five kilos or his contract with South Australia, borrowed many a squared-up glide to third-man from his mentor Darren Lehman's batting textbook.

Despite Brad Haddin's cameo, West Indies clawed back, before Johnson hit out to make crucial runs. Lara was understandably bemused after the game. "It was a bit difficult to comprehend. But, these things do happen. We were on the course to victory and we found a way to lose."

He said the track wasn't easy to bat on. "The ball seamed around a fair bit, and if we had conceded 30-40 runs less we would have been comfortable."

Lara, who commended the efforts of Chanderpaul and Gayle, said the difference between the sides was that Australia was in the habit of winning.

"They see themselves as winning from any stage," he said. There is something to be said for winning with an under-strength side after sucking up punishment, and Australia, which left out Hussey, Hayden, Martyn, and Lee in a bid to see what the youngsters have, did precisely that.

THE SCORES

Kinrara Academy Oval, Kuala Lumpur, September 12. Australia won by 78 runs.

Australia: P. A. Jaques b Edwards 2; S. M. Katich c Bravo b Bradshaw 36; R. T. Ponting lbw b Bradshaw 54; M. J. Clarke b Bravo 81; M. J. Cosgrove c Lara b Smith 34; S. R. Watson c Sarwan b Smith 2; B. J. Haddin b Taylor 23; M. G. Johnson b Taylor 15; N. W. Bracken b Taylor 1; D. J. Cullen not out 2; G. D. McGrath (not out) 1; Extras (lb-10, w-18) 28; Total (for nine wkts. in 50 overs) 279.

Fall of wickets: 1-9, 2-107, 3-122, 4-191, 5-205, 6-258, 7-258, 8-260, 9- 276.

West Indies bowling: Bradshaw 10-1-37-2; Edwards 6-0-38-1; Gayle 8- 1-37-0; Smith 9-1-39-2; Taylor 10-0- 59-3; Bravo 7-0-59-1.

West Indies: C. H. Gayle c Ponting b Watson 58; S. Chanderpaul c Haddin b Johnson 92; R. R. Sarwan c Ponting b Watson 22; B. C. Lara lbw b Johnson 1; D. J. Bravo c Jaques b McGrath 8; W. W. Hinds c Haddin b Cosgrove 2; D. R. Smith c Haddin b Bracken 2; C. S. Baugh c Haddin b Bracken 0; I. D. R. Bradshaw lbw b Watson 0; J. E. Taylor b Watson 0; F. H. Edwards (not out) 2; Extras (lb-2, w-7, nb-5) 14; Total (in 34.3 overs) 201.

Fall of wickets: 1-136, 2-172, 3- 176, 4-185, 5-196, 6-197, 7-198, 8-199, 9-199.

Australia bowling: McGrath 9-0- 30-1; Bracken 6.3-2-45-2; Johnson 8- 0-65-2; Watson 8-0-43-4; Cullen 2-0- 15-0; Cosgrove 1-0-1-1.