Although it remains very early stages in the 2019 Cricket World Cup, Australia sent out a loud and clear message to their counterparts that they are again a team to be feared and could be the ones to beat, with a superb victory over the West Indies at Trent Bridge, Nottingham, eventually prevailing by 15 runs, in their second game of the group phase.
The win takes Australia to Played 2 Won 2 – they opened their 2019 Cricket World cup campaign with a straightforward win over Afghanistan, winning by 7 wickets and chasing down the 207 total posted by Afghanistan in just 34 overs. They expected a much bigger test against the West Indies, who themselves had opened with an impressive victory, hammering Pakistan, who then went on to beat England, also by 7 wickets after running through the Pakistan batting line up for just 105 runs.
Bigger test expected….bigger test most certainly received as, for the most part of the game, the West Indies were in the box seat and looked favourites to win.
Put in to bat by the West Indies, Australia initially struggled, losing early wickets to stand at 38-4 and then 147-6. It seemed the West Indies would be chasing down another paltry target, but, crucially, Steve Smith was still at the crease and was joined for the seventh wicket by Nathan Coulter-Nile (above). These two both stabilised the innings, and then delivered a great counter attack, putting on 102 runs before Smith was caught in an outstanding fashion on the boundary by Sheldon Cottrell, that will be on every highlight reel for this tournament.
However, Coulter-Nile continued the assault – and by the time he was dismissed in the 48th over, he had smashed (a World Cup record for a number 8 batsman) 92 runs off just 60 balls, including four 6’s. Australia would eventually be bowled out for 288 runs in 49 overs….a great total considering the predicament they had been in across the first half of their innings.
But it looked like it still wouldn’t be enough, as the West Indies, after losing legendary batsman Chris Gayle in quite controversial circumstances early on, always looked to be ahead of the chase and the run rate, on the back of fine innings from Nicholas Pooran, Jason Holder and innings top scorer Shai Hope. A mixture of ones, twos and consistent, if not plentiful, boundaries kept the Aussies under real pressure. When Mitchell Starc (above) dismissed Carlos Brathwaite in the 45th over, the West Indies were still looking strong at 252/7 – needing just 39 more runs and still with captain Jason Holder at the crease. But Starc got Holder caught just three balls later, and the runs, and opportunity, dried up. Despite whacking four 4s off the last four balls of the innings, the West Indies fell 15 runs short, with Mitchell Starc finishing with 5/46 off his ten overs.
It was an exhilarating game – and one that was notable for the West Indies looking to have the game in their hands, only for the Aussies to wrestle it back from them at several key stages of the game – and with both bat and ball. The West Indies will point to a few ropey umpiring decisions that were costly – but the main thing to take from this game is the attitude and determination of the Australian team who found a way to win – and that has to stand them in good stead for the balance of the tournament.
There is no doubt the return to the fold of Steve Smith and David Warner is a huge boost for the Aussies. Warner is a fearsome opener that can dismantle any bowling unit on his day, whilst Smith is a wall to bowl at. It took a spectacular catch to dismiss him, but by the time he was dismissed, he had set the foundation for the target and never looked ruffled even with his colleagues falling around him. Starc and Pat Cummins lead a hostile bowling attack, ably supported by the likes of Coulter-Nile, Maxwell and spinner Adam Zampa who also impressed despite the West Indies batsmen going after him some.
The win was Australia’s 10th successive ODI victory and whilst the win in no way assures them of anything just yet, it certainly shows that Justin Langer’s men are truly back – with the likes of next opponents India and old enemy England certainly taking note that this World Cup is not just about them.
AUSTRALIA – 2019 CRICKET WORLD CUP GROUP MATCHES
- 1/6/19 vs Afghanistan – WON by 7 wickets
- 6/6/19 vs West Indies – WON by 15 runs
- 9/6/19 vs India
- 12/6/19 vs Pakistan
- 15/6/19 vs Sri Lanka
- 20/6/19 vs Bangladesh
- 25/6/19 vs England
- 29/6/19 vs New Zealand
- 6/7/19 vs South Africa