Starc bowls Australia to victory after fine all-round effort from Marsh
SUMMARY: Australia 189-6 from 20 overs (Marsh 75, Finch 53, Christian 22*, Walsh Jr. 3-27) vs West Indies 185-6 from 20 overs (Simmons 72, Lewis 31, Allen 29, Russell 24*, Marsh 3-24, Zampa 2-20)
A herculean all-round performance from Mitchell Marsh and a clutch final over from Mitchell Starc ensured Australia finally claimed their first victory of their West indies tour in a thrilling fourth T20 International in St Lucia.
A stuttering run chase was revived by Fabian Allen and Andre Russell, who took 25 off Riley Meredith’s penultimate over of the innings to leave just 11 required off the last six balls, but Starc delivered a pinpoint final over to seal a four-run win.
Russell (24* off 13), who has dominated Australia in this series and hit two near yorker-length deliveries for six to drag the hosts back into the contest, was unable to score off the first four balls of the last over in a pressure-laden performance from Starc.
Fabian Allen made 29 off 14 and hit three consecutive sixes off Meredith’s horror over, while opener Lendl Simmons (72 off 48 balls) had earlier laid a solid foundation.
Marsh (75 off 44) posted his third half-century in four games, while Aaron Finch (53 off 37) found form to see the Aussies post 6-189 in what was comfortably their most assured batting performance of the series so far, despite a familiar middle-order wobble.
Marsh dismissed Chris Gayle thanks to a leaping snare from Jason Behrendorff, before having Simmons and captain Nicholas Pooran out in successive deliveries to finish with terrific figures of 3-24 from his four overs.
Adam Zampa, who had taken 0-93 from 10 overs from the first three games of the series, was also tremendous in going for just 20 from his complement and picking up a pair of wickets.
Australia’s best batting effort
With the Windies having hit nearly three times as many sixes as Australia in the series coming into the clash, Finch and Marsh cleared the rope nine times between them in a 114-run second-wicket partnership.
Marsh’s showing at the number three spot he has been elevated to will provide encouragement to national selectors looking to whittle down a best XI for the World Cup, though it appears inevitable he will have to shuffle down the order when Steve Smith, David Warner and Glenn Maxwell are available.
From 124-1 after 11 overs, the Aussies were eyeing off at least 200, but their middle-order again stumbled, losing 5-40 over the course of 34 balls, as the Windies picked themselves up following an initially ragged bowling and fielding effort.
Dan Christian steadied the tourists from number seven in his most meaningful innings since his international return, posting 22 off just 14 balls.
Hayden Walsh (3-27 from four overs) continued to be a thorn in Australia’s side, removing Finch and Alex Carey (golden duck) in consecutive deliveries before deceiving Ashton Turner (six off 10) to have him stumped.
The leg-spinner’s numbers for this series highlight his impact; 11 wickets at 8.81, going at just 6.06 runs per over.
Matthew Wade’s early exit to the returning Oshane Thomas aside, it was a dream start for the Aussies after Finch won a fourth consecutive toss and elected to bat first.
With Finch troubled early by Thomas and new-ball partner Sheldon Cottrell, Marsh took the ascendancy in a blazing start to his innings as he helped take 39 from two overs in the Powerplay.
It was comfortably Australia’s best start with the bat in the series, taking 72 off the first six overs while the field was up.
Finch gradually found fluency as he belted Walsh for six over the leg-side and into the wind, a clear intention to put more pressure on the former USA player after Moises Henriques admitted after the third T20I that they had not put away his bad balls well enough.
Marsh needed just 25 balls to reach his fifty, while Finch got there in 34 and although the ensuing collapse after a brief rain delay halted their momentum, it ultimately did not cost them. (cricket.com.au)