Australia’s varied bowling attack once again dominated a suspect West Indies batting line-up on the way to a series-clinching six-wicket victory in the decisive final fixture of the three-match One-Day International series at Kensington Oval in Barbados on Monday.
Opening batsman Evin Lewis played a lone hand with an unbeaten 55 as the tourists bundled out the home side for 152 off 45.1 overs batting first with Mitchell Starc leading the rout with figures of three for 43.
That effort lifted his series wicket haul to 11 and confirmed the left-arm pacer as player of the series.
“It’s my role in the team to use whatever pace and swing I have consistently through my spells,” said Starc in putting his performances in the match and the series in context. “It helps when I’ve got Josh (Hazlewood) at the other end and the spinning quality we have as well in support.”
Fellow new ball bowler Hazlewood was at his most miserly in claiming two for 18 while the trio of spinners Adam Zampa, Ashton Agar and Ashton Turner combined for the other five wickets.
Matthew Wade’s unbeaten 51 (52 balls, two sixes, five fours) led Australia to the target with almost 20 overs to spare. He received good support from Alex Carey (35) and Mitchell Marsh (29) after the West Indies prised out the openers early and the slow bowlers, led by Akeal Hosein, threatened to give their team a fighting chance at defending that modest target.
Yet the player of the match award did not go to either Starc or Wade but to left-arm spinning all-rounder Agar. Having been selected to replace younger brother and pacer Wes in the final eleven on a surface expected to favour the slow bowlers, he responded with figures of two for 31 off his allotted ten overs and then contributed an important 19 not out in an unbroken fifth-wicket partnership of 54 to take his side through what could have been tricky chase.
Batting challenges were the defining features of the match as exemplified by Lewis’ effort at the top of the West Indies order when his captain, Kieron Pollard, chose to bat on winning the toss for the first time in the series.
Forced to retire hurt at the start of the innings when he edged a delivery onto his helmet, Lewis returned at the fall of the fifth to prevent an abject capitulation in finishing on 55 not out off 66 balls with three sixes and five fours.
He suffered for a lack of support though with only four others getting into double-figures and no-one else going past 20.
It prompted his skipper into give a scathing assessment of the pitch conditions, not just for the deciding encounter but the two other matches in the series.
“I think it is unacceptable for international cricket,” was Pollard’s blunt verdict. “We are not here to make excuses. We know we batted badly, but I think when you look at the scores through the series with two top international teams, I think it was embarrassing. Coming from St Lucia (where West Indies won the T20 International series 4-1) to this, I think it is absolutely ridiculous.”