Hall of Infamy to Hall of Fame. That was the journey Runako Morton of the West Indies made on Wednesday as the Caribbeans upset world champions Australia in a thrilling Champions Trophy Group 'A' dust-up at the Brabourne Stadium. The 28-year-old’s unbeaten 90, his 137-run partnership for the fifth wicket with captain Brian Lara (71) and splendid fast bowling at the death by hat-trick man Jerome Taylor proved pivotal in the West Indies' 10-run win.
Morton was named Man of the Match.
Australia needed 16 runs off the last over, bowled by Taylor, and had two wickets in hand. They managed just five. Taylor completed his hat-trick on the first ball of the over, clean bowling Brad Hogg. He had dismissed Michael Hussey and Brett Lee on the last two balls of his previous over.
Batting first after winning the toss, the West Indies scored 234 for six from 50 overs after being 63 for four at one stage. They didn't allow Australia to go beyond 224 for 9 from 50 overs.
After losing opener Shane Watson and captain Ricky Ponting with the team score on 17, Australia were always under pressure. But Adam Gilchrist (92, 120b, 11x4) and Michael Clarke 47 (85 b, 3x4), brought them close to victory. The two put on 101 for the fifth wicket. Then Gilchrist was run-out at the non-striker's end following a throw by Wavell Hinds from between gully and short third-man. It brought West Indies back in the game.
The Caribbeans now have two points from one match in Group A, the same as India.
Batting hero Morton was held for stabbing his cousin in 2004. Two years before that, he had lied about the death of his grandmother to avoid the 2002 Champions Trophy. On the cricket field, his ill-repute came from a record 31-ball zero in the recent DLF Cup final against Australia in Kuala Lumpur. Wednesday brought him some redemption.
The Brabourne wicket, though slow, did not sing the satanic verses it was feared to after the freakish game between New Zealand and South Africa on Monday. The turn was not abnormal, the bounce not very low. In fact, a Marlon Samuels off-break jumped as high as West Indies wicketkeeper Carlton Baugh's jaw. And only one wicket in the West Indian innings went to a spinner (Ramnaresh Sarwan, trapped leg-before by Clarke). The run-making was not very easy – in part due to Mumbai's high humidity - but the batsmen were rarely in discomfort.
Australia started their innings on an impulsive note. Opener Watson, who was preferred over Simon Katich for this match and had shown application in the team's practice games, was out for a duck. The burly allrounder gave away to the lure of pulling Ian Bradshaw, who opened the bowling for the West Indies. It was only Watson’s third ball of the day. It showed as he top-edged it to Sarwan inside the 30-yard circle.
Captain Ricky Ponting was next in. And soon, next out. That too in a manner that irritates batsmen. Intending to push Jerome Taylor through covers, he was bowled off an inside edge for one. When Damien Martyn and Andrew Symonds perished too, Australia must have remembered their granny.
The normally explosive Gilchrist adopted a more responsible approach and took charge of the Australian recovery. Clarke supported him well. Then Clarke steered Chris Gayle to Hinds. Gilchrist sprinted for a risky single, only to be sent back by Clarke. But by then Hinds’ throw had reached the non-striker’s end.
Samant fields for WI
Mumbai’s Vinayak Samant fielded for the West Indies when Fidel Edwards left the field on Wednesday. With skipper Brain Lara suffering cramps too, the Caribbeans were short of players and had to bring in the Mumbai wicket-keeper.
There is a precedent to this. New Zealand’s Hamish Marshall fielded for England against South Africa in a Test match at Lord’s in the late 90s.
Earlier this year William Pottersfield of Ireland fielded for England against Pakistan in the first Test at Lord’s.