ICC Men's ODI World Cup 2019
Aussies fight to see off stern Windies challenge
Steve Smith and Nathan Coulter-Nile saved the day with the bat before superb bowling at the death sealed a tight win for Australia
Louis Cameron at Trent Bridge, Nottingham
7 June 2019, 11:00 AM AEST
An exhilarating World Cup clash featuring stunning catches, fast bouncers and lusty lower-order hitting finished in a tight Australian victory over West Indies at Trent Bridge on Thursday.
Nathan Coulter-Nile (92 off 60 balls) posted the second highest score in ODI history by a player batting at No.8 or lower before Mitchell Starc (5-46 off 10 overs) and Pat Cummins (2-41 off 10) came up clutch in the death overs to seal a 15-run win.
It marked an impressive comeback for Australia, who had been reduced to 4-38 inside the first eight overs of the match before Steve Smith (73 off 103), Alex Carey (45 off 55) and then the big-hitting Coulter-Nile put together the rescue act.
Shai Hope (68 off 105) and Jason Holder (51 off 57) fought bravely in the Windies’ run chase, but they fell short, finishing their 50 overs on 9-273.
It was a devastating performance from Starc, who again topped the 150kph mark and took three wickets for just a single run in his final two overs.
The Windies pacemen promised a bouncer barrage and they walked the talk early on as five of Australia's top six capitulated in the face of some hostile bowling.
But Smith, showing maturity and restraint in a superb knock, and Coulter-Nile, who smashed four sixes in a whirlwind innings, put on 102 runs off just 89 deliveries for the seventh wicket to see Australia reach 288.
Coulter-Nile's astonishing cameo nearly saw him become the first No.8 to score an ODI ton, as the big-hitting right-hander passed Trevor Laughlin's record of 74 for the highest score by an Australian batting that low in the order.
Smith's innings was ended by what may be the catch of the World Cup from Sheldon Cottrell (although Ben Stokes may disagree), with the athletic West Indian not breaking stride in a stunning one-handed effort on the fine leg boundary.
Carey also played an important role in Australia's resurrection, falling short of a second ODI fifty as he shared in a brisk 68-run stand with Smith.
While the Windies eventually bowled Australia out for 288 with an over to spare, they were left to rue gifting their opponents an extra 24 runs in wides alone.
It was far from a complete performance from the reigning 50-over world champions, but the Aussies will be heartened that they were able to hold their nerve in the face of some destructive late-order hitting.
Despite their loss, the Windies confirmed they could be a serious threat at this World Cup having comfortably accounted for Pakistan in their first match before pushing Australia to the brink here.
Chris Gayle was touted as the dangerman for the Windies and the Jamaican had an eventful day despite only contributing 21. Having earlier lapped up applause for his sporadic fielding 'efforts', the 39-year-old was remarkably given out three times in five balls off Starc, successfully reviewing caught behind and lbw dismissals before finally failing when struck on the pad again.
Television replays later revealed umpire Chris Gaffaney had missed a front-foot no-ball on the Starc delivery before Gayle was dismissed.
After being sent in, Australia's top order ducked, weaved and copped body blows as five of their top six were ultimately found wanting in a captivating opening hour.
Skipper Aaron Finch was arguably the only blameless player in the early collapse, as Oshane Thomas (2-63 off 10 overs) kept his composure after a wild first over to have the Australian captain edging behind an absolute pearler.
David Warner, fresh off a match-winning 89 not out against Afghanistan, couldn't keep his good form going as he parried an easy catch to point off Cottrell (2-56 off nine).
The entrance of the normally unflappable Usman Khawaja signalled the start of the Windies' bouncer bombardment.
In an eerily similar incident to one in a practice game between the two sides last month, the normally unflappable Khawaja, on just his third ball, was struck in the grille of the helmet by Thomas. Encouraged by the steepling bounce, the Windies doubled down on their bouncer-heavy tactics and were rewarded when Australia's No.3 uncharacteristically backed away trying to flay Andre Russell through the off-side.
Hope's stunning catch behind the stumps summed up a morning in which the Windies could do no wrong.
Glenn Maxwell, off just his second ball, and Marcus Stoinis both mistimed pull shots to leave Australia reeling at 5-79.
Carey took 15 balls to get off the mark but gradually found his groove, smacking three boundaries off one Cottrell over and proving a valuable foil for Smith, who looked destined to reach his first ODI century in nearly two-and-a-half years.
Another jaw-dropping piece of fielding put paid to that; Cottrell, running at full pace, snagged Smith's leg-side flick with an outstretched left hand, threw the ball up the in the air as he ran over the boundary rope, ran back into the field of play and pouched the rebound – all without breaking stride.
For the second time in as many games, Cummins picked up a wicket in his very first over before Starc also made an early breakthrough when he ended Gayle's action-packed innings, leaving the Windies precariously placed at 2-31.
Hope found support first in Nicholas Pooran, who raced to 40 off 36 before Finch added to the catalogue of one-handed catches to remove him, and then in Shimron Hetmyer, before an awful mix-up saw the latter exit for 21 off 28.
Hope controlled the middle overs with a measured 68 off 105 balls and looked to have set up the Windies' coterie of powerful allrounders with the asking rate hovering a bit above a run-a-ball when he exited with 15 overs to go.
The Decision Review System lottery continued with Holder, who successfully overturned two lbw calls that went against him, prompting former Windies quick Michael Holding in commentary to label the umpiring "atrocious".
Andre Russell pummelled Adam Zampa for a 103-metre six off just his second ball, but another outstanding catch – this one from Maxwell running back from the in-field – brought about his downfall.
Starc, who has previously been dubbed the 'mop' for his ability to clean up the tail, again did the trick as he cut a swathe through the lower-order to seal a hard-fought victory.
Australia have just three days before they're back in action, as they head to London for a date with rivals India at The Oval on Sunday.
Australia XI: David Warner, Aaron Finch (c), Usman Khawaja, Steve Smith, Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, Alex Carey (wk), Nathan Coulter-Nile, Pat Cummins, Mitch Starc, Adam Zampa
West Indies XI: Chris Gayle, Evin Lewis, Shai Hope, Nicholas Pooran, Shimron Hetmyer, Jason Holder (c), Andre Russell, Carlos Brathwaite, Ashley Nurse, Sheldon Cottrell, Oshane Thomas
2019 World Cup
Australia's squad: Aaron Finch (c), Jason Behrendorff, Alex Carey (wk), Nathan Coulter-Nile, Pat Cummins, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Shaun Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Kane Richardson, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, David Warner, Adam Zampa
June 9: India v Australia, The Oval
June 12: Australia v Pakistan, Taunton
June 15: Sri Lanka v Australia, The Oval
June 20: Australia v Bangladesh, Trent Bridge
June 25: England v Australia, Lord's
July 9: Semi-Final 1, Old Trafford
July 11: Semi-Final 2, Edgbaston
July 14: Final, Lord's
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For a full list of all World Cup fixtures, click HERE