Australia clinched the triangular One-Day International series in the Caribbean win a 58-run victory over West Indies on Sunday (June 26) evening at the Kensington Oval in Barbados.
Australia’s victory was based on three crucial contributions: an incisive spell by Mitchell Marsh (10-1-32-3), who was later named Man of the Match, a late counter-attacking innings from Matthew Wade (57 not out in 52 balls) and Josh Hazlewood’s five-wicket haul (5 for 50). Their efforts enabled Australia to put up a competitive 270 for 9 before it bowled out West Indies for 212 in 45.4 overs.
Winning the toss and electing to take first strike on a pitch both captains wanted to bat on, Australia’s opening duo of Usman Khawaja and Aaron Finch looked in ominous form, hitting six boundaries in the first four overs.
However, for the second consecutive game against West Indies, Khawaja, after looking very secure at the crease, prodded at a delivery outside offstump and was caught behind.
The powerful Finch continued to play his shots and took particular liking to the pace of Shannon Gabriel, when he blasted him for 16 runs in the eight over, which included a glorious straight six and boundary into the Media Centre End.
But Finch failed to capitalise on his excellent start, mistiming a Kieron Pollard slower ball into the hands of Marlon Samuels on the deep square-leg boundary.
George Bailey initially played out 15 dot balls, but he began to steady Australia’s reply with a 51-run third-wicket partnership with Steven Smith, before he was bowled off an inside edge by Carlos Brathwaite.
Coming back into the attack, Gabriel redeemed himself after an expensive first spell with a key double-strike in the 30th over to trigger a mid-innings collapse for Australia, as West Indies regained the initiative. But an injury prevented him from completing his full quota of overs. Gabriel ended with 2 for 58 from seven overs. Smith who looked set for his fourth half-century of the series, top-edged an attempted pull to give Samuels his second catch for the day, and then Glenn Maxwell was beaten for pace and trapped lbw.
West Indies asserted control of the proceedings when Marsh was bowled chopping on a Sulieman Benn delivery, leaving Australia precariously placed on 173 for 6.
But Wade, who had struggled earlier in this series scoring only 31 runs, saved his best for the final, scoring his eighth ODI half-century. He first had to negotiate Sunil Narine, who, in previous ODI encounters, had dismissed Wade four times for ten runs in 38 balls. Then he survived a clear run-out chance in the 46th over when on 28, as Denesh Ramdin missed the stumps at the striker’s end.
After that, Wade guided the lower order effectively in the final five overs, hitting three massive leg-side sixes, most significantly one off Carlos Brathwaite that flew into the Greenidge & Haynes Stand.
In West Indies’ reply, the opening pair of Johnson Charles and Andre Fletcher took the total to 49 without loss in the first ten overs. After Fletcher fell, giving Hazlewood his first wicket of the day, Marsh produced the game-changing spell as West Indies lost four wickets for 23 runs in the next ten overs.
Marsh, who was noticeably bowling with a cross seam that seemed to give him extra bounce and rush the batters, had Darren Bravo caught at the wicket, Charles (45 off 61) lbw playing around a straight delivery, and Samuels lobbing a catch to short extra-cover. Marsh’s wickets came in a 12-ball spell.
Pollard looked threatening for a while in his brief innings, but after he perished to a catch at long-off trying to hit Adam Zampa for a second six in as many overs, so too did West Indian hopes.
Ramdin (40 in 67 balls) and Jason Holder (34 in 37) delayed the inevitable with decent hands, but Hazlewood, the Player of the Series, mopped up the tail and secured the series with his second ODI five-wicket haul when Benn holed out to Maxwell at long-on.
Looking back, Holder expressed pride at how West Indies challenged the No. 1 and No. 3 teams in the world. “We started at the beginning of this tournament and a lot of people didn’t expect us to reach this final and just expected Australia and South Africa to roll over us,” he said. “So to put ourselves in the position where we even got this final was tremendous and I’m proud of that progression.”
Smith, meanwhile, was happy that Australia had pulled it off without always being at their best. “It’s been one of those series where the teams have had to scrap for wins,” he pointed out. “There haven’t been too many large scores and batters at all three venues have had to work had for runs. West Indies played well, so we can take a lot of confidence from being able win today and their series from playing this sort of tough cricket.”