It is one of the best match in this tournament thus far. Australia and West Indies partook in a match in which fortunes swung wildly before Aaron Finch’s men eventually pulled off their second win in as many games in the ICC Cricket World Cup. Australia won the game by 15 runs, taking them to four points in two games.
West Indies had Australia on the ropes with a bouncer barrage early to reduce them to 38/4 and then 79/5. Steven Smith then reeled in all his experience and skill to pull Australia out of the hole. He was part of an important 67-run stand with Alex Carey that helped Australia claw back into the game. A blistering 92 off just 60 balls from Nathan Coulter-Nile saw Australia make a stunning comeback. They finished with 288 in the end, a score that looked well beyond them for the majority of the innings.
Australia continued that momentum with their bowling. Evin Lewis and Chris Gayle fell after aggregating just 31 runs between them. But again, just as Australia looked to taken a firm grip, West Indies pulled back. Nicholas Pooran came out blazing and with a mature and patient Shai Hope for company tried to restore parity. Their stand of 68 was quite similar to the one Australia had enjoyed during their innings – between Smith and Carey.
Hope held fort for West Indies, eating up many dot deliveries but ensuring his wicket wasn’t thrown away. At the other end, Pooran and Shimron Hetmyer cashed in. Even with that, when Hetmyer departed after a mix-up West Indies found themselves in trouble at 190/5. Holder’s side still needed 99 off the last 15 overs.
Andre Russell’s impact lasted only 11 balls, which gave the team 15 runs. He was well caught by Glenn Maxwell off Starc, leaving Holder to take the team over the line. The captain played very much the captain’s knock. His fifty came off fifty balls but was characterised by great timing. He knew which bowlers to take on and never let the run rate climb too high. Brathwaite played a handy 16 off 17 balls, but as was the theme of the game, he fell just when his side were starting to look comfortable. Then the big blow came. Aaron Finch brought back Mitchell Starc for the key over – the 46th, and the left-armer gave him the important wickets of Brathwaite and then Jason Holder. Ashley Nurse hit 4 fours consecutively but there was no twist in the tale as Australia held on to seal the deal. Starc was the star for the Aussies with superb returns of 5 for 46.
Earlier, Australia were greeted with a great show of short balls. Oshane Thomas, Andre Russell, Sheldon Cottrell and Jason Holder all combined to great effect for the West Indies as they ran through the Australian top order. It took the skill and experience of Steven Smith and an all-out attack from Nathan Coulter-Nile, coupled with a fine cameo from Alex Carey as Australia ended with 288 all out.
West Indies won the toss and surprisingly elected to bowl first. Not long after, their decision stood vindicated. Holder must have wanted his pacers to make use of whatever the pitch had to offer for his seamers before it dried up. Thomas and Cottrell certainly extracted every little bit that was on offer. They peppered the Aussie batters with short balls, and as a result, it was the normal length balls that did the damage.
Finch, Warner, Khawaja and Maxwell all fell within no time to leave Australia reeling at 38/4. When Stoinis fell after a brief revival, Australia were still deep in trouble at 79/5.
It took the arrival of Smith to calm Australia’s jittering nerves. The right-hander proved he was a class above others, swaying out of the way and using soft hands to fend the ball away into gaps. The progress was slow, but Australia’s rot had been stemmed, at least for the time being.
Smith was joined by Carey, who had a clear plan up his sleeve. Smith continued in the same vein, picking up the singles and the odd boundary to help Australia close in on the 150-run mark. Carey fell to Russell on 45, but Australia had momentum on their side now. As Australia started to enjoy a period of dominance, West Indies’ bowling started to come apart. Windes became a regular appearance, as did the boundaries. Coulter-Nile came out swinging, and with luck on his side, saw Australia rake in the runs. Overs 20-40 had seen Australia score at more than six an over. Coulter-Nile brought up his fifty off just 41 balls, swaying the contest more towards his side. His career high score and Highest score by a No. 8 batsman in the World Cup history helped Australia to seal off the game.