A match-winning three-wicket bowling spell by Mitchell Marsh lifted Australia to a convincing 58-run win over West Indies in the final of the triangular one-day international (ODI) series in Barbados on Sunday.
Australia, who batted first after winning the toss, seemed destined to post a middling target until wicketkeeper Matthew Wade, batting at number seven, rattled off an unbeaten 57 off 52 balls.
He finished his stint at the crease in style with a towering six over midwicket off the final ball as the visitors scored 270 for nine from their allotted 50 overs.
The Windies made a breezy start in reply as openers Johnson Charles and Andre Fletcher put on a quick 49, with Charles scoring the lion’s share of the runs at Kensington Oval in Bridgetown.
But the floodgates opened after Fletcher (9) was caught at slip off paceman Josh Hazlewood, as medium-pacer Marsh collected three quick wickets to turn the match decisively and inexorably in Australia’s direction.
Marsh dismissed Darren Bravo (6) and Marlon Samuels (6) cheaply, before trapping Charles (45) plum leg-before-wicket to leave the Windies staggering at 72 for four.
Marsh finished with 3-32 off 10 miserly overs, while Hazlewood (5-50) mopped up the tail as the home team were all out for 212 after 48.4 overs.
“I haven’t really taken a wicket all series, so it was nice to get a few tonight,” all-rounder Marsh, who also made 32 with the bat, said in an on-field interview.
The result cements Australia’s number one ODI ranking, while eighth-ranked West Indies might take some consolation from reaching the final ahead of South Africa, the other team in the 10-match series.
“We scrapped incredibly well today,” said Australian captain Steve Smith.
“We were in a bit of trouble at one point and I thought Matthew Wade and the tail did an incredible job to get to 270.”
Hazlewood, meanwhile, was named man of the series for his 11-wicket haul, and he said there was no secret to his success.
“I keep it pretty simple. Run in and hit a length and get a little bit of movement each way. I don’t try to complicate it too much.”
Next up for West Indies is a four-Test home series against India starting on July 21, while Australia start a three-Test series in Sri Lanka on July 26.
Said victorious skipper Smith: “I don’t think we’ve played our best cricket throughout this tournament. We’ve still got a lot of work to do to get where we want to get.”