2019 Cricket World Cup: Australia defeat West Indies in thrilling affair

2019 Cricket World Cup: Australia defeat West Indies in thrilling affair

A fine bowling display made up for a top-order collapse as Justin Langer's outfit crept over the line

groomy99
Jack Groom

Australia beat West Indies by 15 runs to clinch their second victory of the 2019 Cricket World Cup in a tightly-contested affair at Trent Bridge.

Having fallen to 38-4 and 79-5 after a fiery opening spell from the Windies fast bowlers decimated their top order, Steve Smith initially led the recovery with a fine 73.

However he merely set the stage for Nathan Coulter-Nile, the big-hitting all-rounder brutalising 92 off only 60 balls from number eight to take his side to a competitive score.

And despite needing less than a hundred runs with six wickets in hands to win, a Mitchell Starc (5-46)-inspired bowling display blew away the lower order to secure the win - the left-armer becoming the quickest bowler to 150 ODI wickets in the process.

Australia recover from dismal start

In the face of a brutal early period as a result of the rampaging West Indian quicks, the Aussie top order could not withstand the aggressive start to proceedings.

Captain Aaron Finch (6) was the first to go, edging behind a beautiful Oshane Thomas (2-63) delivery that angled in and nipped away, before David Warner (3) slapped Sheldon Cottrell (2-56) to point soon after.

If the opening duo were removed by movement the next two wickets fell to raw pace: having already been hit three times, Usman Khawaja (13) enticed a brilliant catch to wicketkeeper Shai Hope to give Andre Russell (2-41) his first victim; Glenn Maxwell then top-edged a hook in only his second delivery faced to depart for a duck.

As is so often the case the baton was left with Smith, and he did not let them down.

He batted watchfully to rotate the strike and repel the probing Windies attack, demonstrating his unique mixture of eccentricity, dynamic movements and rubber-like wrists. 

He was ultimately only dismissed due to a piece of sheer brilliance.

Having played a trademark whip over long leg that was seemingly sailing for six, his maximum-in-waiting was only interrupted by a hurtling Cottrell sprinting around the perimeter.

The big paceman threw out his left arm to somehow cling onto the ball - and if this wasn't spectacular enough, he had the presence of mind to throw the ball up into the air to ensure he did not step on the boundary and take the simple catch upon his re-entry into the field of play.

Coulter-Nile then demonstrated his strength with a display of exceptionally clean-hitting, as his penchant for leg-side shots was strikingly obvious in his powerful knock.

Clinical Starc wraps up victory

Such is their potential power with bat in hand, the West Indies must have been confident of their ability to chase down the total at the halfway mark.

However, this optimism may have been dampened somewhat when opener Evin Lewis was dismissed for just one; when superstar Chris Gayle then fell for 21 three overs later, these hopes were surely diminishing by the minute.

Hope (68) and Nicholas Pooran (40) then combined for an energetic partnership to steady the ship, and when Hope finally fell in the 35th over they required only 99 left with half of their wickets in hand.

Captain Jason Holder was the constant throughout, the experienced all-rounder combining cunning singles with a handful of powerfully-hit boundaries to culminate a run-a-ball fifty.

Yet despite big-hitting from Russell (15 off 11) and Carlos Braithwaite (16 off 17) Starc's class ultimately proved too high.

The 29-year old accounted firstly for the aforementioned powerful duo before then forcing Holder to miscue a pull straight to short fine-leg, and when he bowled Cottrell shortly afterwards that was the game.

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