The sun set on the glittering careers of veteran superstars Chris Gayle and Dwayne Bravo but Australia spoiled their emotional farewell by inflicting them with a chastening eight-wicket defeat, as West Indies wrapped up their dismal campaign at the Twenty20 World Cup in United Arab Emirates on Saturday.
Australia honoured the duo with a guard of honour after David Warner’s dominant unbeaten 89 had orchestrated his side’s successful chase of 158 with 22 balls to spare, condemning the deposed champions to their fourth defeat in five matches and a lowly fifth place in Group 1.
However, the charitable gesture by the Aussies did little to obscure the pall of gloom engulfing the Caribbean side, the tournament representing one of their worst-ever outings at a T20 World Cup.
While Bravo announced his international retirement three days ago, Gayle remained mum until revealing in a post-match interview he would play one last game for West Indies in his native Jamaica before bowing out.
“I didn’t announce any retirement but they actually give me one [more] game in Jamaica in front of my home crowd and then I can say ‘hey guys, thank you so much,’” said the 42-year-old Gayle, whose decline in form has been startling.
“If not, I would’ve announced it (retirement) long time. I would’ve been joining DJ Bravo in the back end in saying thanks to each and everyone but I can’t say that just yet.”
Clearly now devoid of his invincibility, Gayle managed only 15 as West Indies rallied to 157 for seven off their 20 overs after being sent in, captain Kieron Pollard hitting a top score of 44 off 31 deliveries with four fours and a six, and Evin Lewis (29) and Shimron Hetmyer (27) producing support knocks.
New-ball seamer Josh Hazlewood finished with four for 39, taking two of the three wickets to fall in the first powerplay as West Indies struggled early on.
In reply, Australia lost captain Aaron Finch for nine, cutting left-arm spinner Akeal Hosein onto his stumps in the fourth over at 33 for one but Warner carved out nine fours and four sixes in a 124-run, second wicket stand with Mitchell Marsh (53) to erase any doubt over the result
For his part, Marsh struck five fours and two sixes in a 32-ball stay before tapping the final ball of Gayle’s only over to Jason Holder at cover with scores level.
“I think overall it has been a disappointing campaign all-round,” said a dejected Pollard.
Entering the contest at the Zayed Cricket Stadium already eliminated from semi-final contention and hoping to at least finish on a winning note, Lewis and Gayle briefly raised hopes of a huge total when they put on a whirlwind 30 off 14 balls for the first wicket.
But after pummeling two sixes off nine deliveries, Gayle dragged a booming drive at fast bowler Pat Cummins onto his stumps in the third over, the dismissal drawing a rarely seen emotional response from the 42-year-old who finished the tournament with 45 runs from five innings.
His departure saw three wickets tumble for five runs in the space of seven balls as Hazlewood accounted for Nicholas Pooran (4) and Roston Chase without scoring in the fourth over.
Lewis, who struck five fours, put on 35 for the fourth wicket with Hetmyer who hit just two boundaries while Pollard and Bravo (10) added a further 35, to repair the damage.
Leg-spinner Adam Zampa got Lewis to sky to long on in the 10th over and Hetmyer gloved a leg-side catch to the keeper off Hazlewood in the 13th. And Bravo followed in the 18th to another catch in the deep off Hazlewood after supporting Pollard, leaving Andre Russell to blast a four and a couple of sixes in a seven-ball unbeaten 18, to get West Indies past 150.
Warner then put the final nail in the Windies coffin, racing to his 20th T20I half-century off 29 balls in the ninth over before hitting the winning runs with a tickle to the fine leg boundary off Chase’s off-spin.