Australia took a huge step towards the semi-finals of the T20 World Cup as they thrashed the West Indies by eight wickets to deny Chris Gayle and Dwayne Bravo victorious farewells.
Seeking to win the tournament for the first time, Australia made sure South Africa will need a truly remarkable victory over England later on Saturday to deny them a place in the last four.
Josh Hazlewood produced a stunning performance with the ball for Australia, taking 4-39, including the wicket of Bravo on his final appearance for the Windies, who only managed to get to 157-7 because of a late salvo from Andre Russell.
Hazlewood’s efforts with the ball were backed up brilliantly by a superb batting display from David Warner, whose unbeaten 89 off 56 ensured victory was rarely in doubt, Australia getting home with 22 balls to spare.
Already eliminated from contention with only one win to their name, the Windies saw a strong start dissipate as Gayle (15) departed the crease in what is expected to be his final game for the Windies.
Gayle chopped onto his stumps the next delivery after smashing Pat Cummins for six and saluted the crowd as he strode off. Nicholas Pooran followed in short order at the hands of Hazelwood, who then castled Roston Chase for a duck and the Windies failed to wrestle back the initiative after falling to 35-3.
Australia skipper Aaron Finch did fall cheaply for nine in reply, though that was as good as it got for the Windies as they were bludgeoned by Warner and Mitchell Marsh.
They put together a seemingly effortless partnership of 124, combining for 13 fours and six maximums before it was finally ended by Gayle, much to the delight of the Windies, as he removed Marsh with the scores level, before Warner clinched victory with a boundary to finish things off with a flourish.
Australia all but through
Australia sit second in Group 1 with eight points and a clear net run rate advantage over third-placed South Africa, who will need to thump unbeaten England in Sharjah to progress to the semis ahead of Australia.
Gayle & Bravo all smiles
Though the result was not they wanted, Gayle and Bravo made sure to soak up the experience of their final match. They were all smiles throughout and received a guard of honour from the Australia players after the game.
Gayle is the Windies’ top run-scorer in T20I cricket with 1,899. Known for his devastating batting in the shortest format, his dismissal of Marsh as he and Bravo bowled two of the final three overs marked an unconventional farewell.