Samuels, openers spark Windies to big win over Australia
A rollicking opening stand and a Marlon Samuels special lifted West Indies to their second victory of the triangular series over an uncharacteristically sloppy Australian side in St Kitts.From the strong platform of 139 for 1 after 27 overs the visitors’ innings lost momentum, and the target of 266 was vulnerable to an early assault on the short boundaries of Warner Park.
Johnson Charles and Andre Fletcher duly hurled themselves at a bowling attack, which was missing Mitchell Starc, and were helped by a pair of dropped catches from Usman Khawaja.
Those misses helped take the West Indies to an opening stand of 74 inside 10 overs, and that early acceleration allowed Samuels to sculpt an innings in his familiar style – long periods of inactivity mixed with brief bursts of power and inspiration.
Darren Bravo and Denesh Ramdin offered support, and a wobble arrived too late to save Australia from defeat.
Khawaja had taken advantage of a promotion to the top of the order to help guide Australia’s innings, but he fell short of what may have been possible again. Bogged down in the 90s, he was ultimately run out when chasing a third run for his partner George Bailey.
Steve Smith, the captain, forged 74 without always looking in complete control of his game or the conditions, before Bailey played sensibly to push the visitors beyond 260.
Jason Holder bowled an exemplary spell for the West Indies, having started on the best possible note by surprising Aaron Finch with bounce and having him taken at slip for a duck in the first over of the match.
Sunil Narine was also economical, while Carlos Brathwaite and Kieron Pollard claimed two wickets each.
Fletcher and Charles clearly had boundaries on their minds when they walked out to start the pursuit, helped by the fact there was no Starc to contend with, for reasons of rest. Nine times the rope was reached or cleared in the first seven overs, and from there the required rate was never likely to drift beyond six runs per over.
After Khawaja’s misses, James Faulkner contributed an excellent cutter to deceive Fletcher, and Adam Zampa struck in his first over with a skidding delivery that pinned Charles in front of middle stump.
However, their early work gave Samuels and Bravo time to get established, without Smith being able to pressure the scoreboard through his bowlers.
The boundaries flowed momentarily to a trickle, but neither batsman lost his composure, and the target had been whittled down to 99 from 115 balls by the time Bravo was claimed by Zampa with a bouncing leg break that touched glove and pad before looping up for Matthew Wade.
Ramdin kept Samuels company as the equation shrank still further, and it was left to the senior batsman to put the result more or less beyond doubt with a trio of sixes off Zampa in the 41st over.
The first of these was centimetres away from being caught by the debutant Travis Head, who did take the ball cleanly but was thrown off balance by the proximity of the rope and unable to hurl the ball in for a successful juggle. The next two cleared him comfortably.
Samuels would not be Samuels without moments to counterbalance the brilliance, and a languid single the same over ended his innings when Wade scampered around the stumps and fired a dead-eye throw at the non-striker’s stumps. Coulter-Nile found a way through Ramdin and coaxed the thinnest of edges from Holder to keep the crowd on tenterhooks, but Pollard and Brathwaite kept their heads to collect victory with more than four overs remaining. (ESPN Cricinfo)