Gros Islet (St Lucia), July 15 (MNN) Australia came out on top in a roller-coaster fourth T20I against West Indies, with Mitchell Marsh hitting 75 off 45 balls to boost the visitors’ innings.
Electing to bat first at the Daren Sammy National Cricket Stadium here, Australia set West Indies a target of 190 to win and reached home by just four runs in the end.
In a match packed with twists and turns, the hosts went from outsiders to favourites and back again in the space of two overs. Needing 36 runs off the final 12 balls, they went into the final over needing a gettable 11 runs to win.
In the end, Mitchell Starc showed nerves of steel against Andre Russell, bowling five consecutive dots before conceding an inconsequential six off the final ball.
The hero of the day for Australia was Mitchell Marsh, who notched his highest T20I score as well as his best figures in the format.
Marsh and Aaron Finch provided the bedrock of Australia’s innings, combining in a 114-run second-wicket stand.
The pair were brought together in the second over following Matthew Wade’s fall for five, caught behind off Oshane Thomas (1/31).
A man in form, Marsh set the tone of his innings early, hitting the fourth delivery he faced for six, pulling Thomas way over square leg in the fourth over. He went on to hit the quick for one more six and two fours in an over where Australia collected 25 runs.
By the end of the Powerplay, Marsh had clattered 42 runs off 16 balls and taken Australia to 72/1. Fittingly he raised his half-century off 24 balls with a six off Fabian Allen before a short rain delay at the end of the ninth over.
Having played the foil in the innings through the Powerplay, Finch freed up his arms from the eighth over, signalling a change in gears when he pulled Hayden Walsh Jr (3/27) for six.
The opener came out with vengeance after the rain delay, hitting the part-time seam of Lendl Simmons (0/16) for three successive boundaries as Australia cruised to 112/1 at the halfway stage in their innings.
The captain reached his fifty off 34 balls in the following over and a total in excess of 200 looked firmly on the cards for Australia.
It took the intervention of Walsh to put the brakes on proceedings. The leggie struck with back-to-back deliveries to halt Australia’s momentum.
A thorn in the tourists’ side throughout the series, Walsh bowled Finch for 53 in the 12th over and removed Alex Carey (0) caught and bowled with his very next ball. While Moises Henriques smashed the hat-trick ball for four, his innings did not last much longer as he perished in the following over for six to Russell (1/25).
From 126/1, Australia had slipped to 135/4 and found it difficult to regain their footing from there as Walsh had Ashton Turner (6) stumped and Fabian Allen (1/31) took the all-important wicket of Marsh in the 18th over.
It took some late hitting from Dan Christian to take Australia past 180 in the end. The all-rounder, who had an lbw overturned on two, pummelled 13 runs from the final over, including one six and a four to finish not out on 22 off 14.
Chasing 190 to win, West Indies enjoyed a flying start to their innings. Lendl Simmons led the charge by clattering 15 runs off the second over from Riley Meredith (1/57), and after Evin Lewis belted Christian (0/23) for 23 in the fourth the hosts had flown to 56/0.
Lewis perished in the following over for 31 off 14 to Adam Zampa, but the dismissal did not slow the chase down as Simmons plundered three more boundaries off the following Starc over to see West Indies finish the Powerplay at 75/1.
The opener raced to his half-century in 28 balls but went back into his shell following the dismissals of Chris Gayle and Andre Fletcher. Back to his destructive best in the third T20I, Gayle fell for one on Wednesday to Marsh (3/24), while Fletcher was bowled for six by Zampa in the 11th over.
By the end of the 15th over, the chase looked to be back on track only for Marsh to derail it in a double-wicket over that only cost Australia one run. The all-rounder had Nicholas Pooran caught for 16 at long-off and struck again with his next ball to remove the well-set Simmons for 72.
However, with the powerful Russell and Allen in the middle, West Indies still had reason to hope.
Consecutive boundaries from Allen off Starc reduced the target to 36 off the final two overs and rookie fast bowler Meredith found himself under the pump. The quick was bludgeoned over long-on for six by Russell on the first ball of the over, and deliveries two through four were also sent over the ropes by Allen, who looked set to be the hero of the day. The spin-bowling all-rounder edged behind on the final ball, departing for 29 off 14.
Two of the finest in their craft went toe-to-toe in the final over and this time around it was Starc who came out on top to give Australia their first win of the tour.
The last T20I is also set to be played at the Daren Sammy National Cricket Stadium at 7.30 pm on Friday.