Aussies showed again that they were 5 times World champions for a reason !!! What a gripping contest vs the intimidating West indies at Nottingham . A match which produced some great bowling, fair share of bouncers,sharp yorkers, strong willed batting, power hitting, electric fielding, great captaincy, brainfades and even poor umpiring—- everything for everyone.
Australia were put into bat by the Windies on winning the toss and for the first 15 to 20 overs it was all Windies. On a lively pitch , with ball doing a bit ,the West Indian fast bowlers hit their straps right from the word go giving the Aussies a fair dose of chin music reminiscent of the 1980s with pace and steep bounce. Finch got an unplayable legcutter from Thomas and caught behind, Warner slashed Cottrel straight to point, Khawaja caught brilliantly by keeper Hope slashing Russell and Maxwell playing a rank irresponsible shot, hooking 2nd ball he faced and caught off a skier.(38/4) . Stoinis(19) appeared to settle down but was out pulling to midwicket off Holder and Aussies slumped to 79/5. Meanwhile Steve Smith ,playing his 2nd game for Australia after his 1 year suspension, looked rock solid and was negotiating the bouncer barrage with resilience and good technique. He found a good ally in Alex Carey (45 off 55) who played a superb innings full of free flowing strokes on the pitch starting to get easier and the Australian resurgence started. Carey left in 30th over edging to keeper which brought Smith and Coulter Nile together in a tremendous partnership. Smith was all patience and concentration as he masterminded a great rescue act while Coulter Nile after settling down mauled the West Indian bowling attack with savage hitting full of brilliant leg side strokes of which a flicked six was the shot of the match. Coulter Nile stroked 8 fours and 4 sixes in spectacular hitting in his 92 off 60 deliveries. Smith (73 off 103 balls and 7 fours)was brillianty caught by Cottrell near the fence off Thomas but by then the Aussies had recovered in brilliant fashion to ultimately reach an imposing score of 288 thereby spoiling the bowling figures of most of Windies fast bowlers who looked near unplayable in the 1st 20 overs.
In reply Windies lost both their openers early with Gayle getting out in controversal circumstances as the previous ball to his dismissal was a no ball but not given. Gayle (21 off 17) was beginning to look ominous but finally dismissed lbw by Starc who was earlier producing his fair share of fast and straight yorkers to the West Indian giant. West Indies finally got into a partnership between a patient Shai Hope who was playing a Smith type innings and Nicholas Pooran (40 off 36) who played free flowing strokes and looked good for a big score till Zampa had him caught by Finch in a crucial breakthrough. Heytmer (21) got runout when he looked well settled and finally at 190/4 patience ranout for Shai Hope (68 off 105 balls) when he was caught off a leading edge as Cummins ended his long vigil and it was a big moment of the match.However Jason Holder who was playing a gallant knock was joined by Andre Russell , fresh from his IPL heroics. Big hits began to flow from both ends and here skipper Finch played a masterstroke by bringing back Mitchell Starc in a fine example of attacking captaincy , trying to get Russell and soon enough ,instead of seeing of the over with lesser risk taking ,Russell (15 off 11) tried totake on Starc and skied one to deep cover to be brilliantly pouched by Maxwell looking into the sun. However the Windies were not to be undone yet as Braithwaite (16 off 17) and Holder (51 off 57) kept getting the big hits till another Starc over completely took the wind out of West indies with both Braithwaite and Holder getting out to airy shots to completely seal the game in Australia’s favour. Windies ended at 273 to lose by 15 runs in a match which they should have won. Starc with 5/46 completely demoralised the Windies batting and became the fastest to reach 150 ODI wickets in 78 matches. Cummins bowled well (2/41) but ironically the match hero Coulter Nile currently appears to be Australia’s weak link in the bowling having lost much of his old pace and venom.
Thus a brilliant win by Australia in a close contest and well led by Finch. Smith and Starc gave the belief that they are getting back to their best . Windies will rue this oppurtunity to close down the game after having Australia on the ropes twice during the match. At the end the team with the greater determination and will power prevailed. Australia will be a more confident team going ahead and West Indies ,inspite of this loss will be a team feared by others with their array of stroke players and fast bowlers. This game has also seen some poor umpiring with no ball missed, and many first time decisions overruled by DRS. This particular game deserved better umpiring.