The Aussies were comfortably beaten by Bangladesh to go 2-0 down in the series.
Australia and the West Indies were high on confidence before they encountered each other, having won their opening game against Afghanistan and Pakistan respectively.
Having won the toss, the West Indies elected to bowl first and made one change – Evin Lewis slotted in at the expense of Darren Bravo.
Australia remained unchanged from the XI that had comprehensively beaten Afghanistan despite the pitch expected to spin later on in the game.
After bowling five wides and a no ball in his first four deliveries, Oshane Thomas calmed his nerves, dismissing Aaron Finch for six. The West Indies bowlers were classy in the power play, mixing up the short stuff well with full-length deliveries as Australia slumped to 4-38.
Marcus Stoinis joined Steve Smith, and the pair looked to swing momentum back Australia’s way. But Stoinis fell for 19 to the short ball. Australia were 5-79 in the 17th over and things were looking very bleak.
Alex Carey came in and took his time to calm the Windies storm. After taking 29 balls to reach double figures, the wicketkeeper looked more free-flowing and started to counter-attack.
Whether it was the Windies’ seamers peppering him with bouncers or Ashley Nurse bowling gentle off breaks, Carey had an answer to the West Indies’ bowlers. But Andre Russell had Carey nicking behind for 45 before the partnership got too dangerous. They were 6-147 in the 31st over and Steve Smith (not out at 43 then) was running out of partners.
After taking a few balls to get his eye in, Nathan Coulter-Nile started attacking the Windies’ bowlers while Smith reached his half century off 77 deliveries. The pair put on 102 for the seventh wicket before Sheldon Cottrell took an outstanding catch on the boundary to remove Smith for 73.
Coulter-Nile’s counter-attack ended up becoming an outstanding innings, scoring 92 off 60 before Australia were bowled out for 288 in the 49th over.
Despite an impressive fightback by Australia, they would have to defend less than 300 on a pretty small ground against a powerful batting line-up.
Australia’s opening bowlers Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc started well, dismissing Evin Lewis for one and Chris Gayle for a quickfire 21. While keeper Shai Hope was batting time and holding up an end, Nicholas Pooran batted with aggressive intent, taking advantage of anything short of a length. The pair added 68 for the third wicket, and the momentum was with the West Indies. But Adam Zampa triumphed when required, dismissing Pooran for 40.
With the inexperienced Shimron Hetmyer coming in at five, Hope upped the ante as he went from 26 off 57 to reach his half century off 76 balls. But a mix-up between the pair saw Hetmyer sacrifice his wicket for a promising 21. The West Indies were 4-149 and Australia were keeping themselves in the hunt.
Having looked flawless for 104 deliveries, Hope gave Australia the hope they needed after chipping one straight to Usman Khawaja for 68. With the onus on skipper Jason Holder to take the West Indies home, Andre Russell came in with the West Indies at 5-190 after 35 overs.
Russell raced to 15 off ten, taking Zampa and Starc to the cleaners. The West Indies needed 73 off 68. Victory was close for the Windies, and all they needed was some sensible cricket. But Russell unnecessarily took on Starc for the second time in the 39th over and gifted his wicket away.
Holder reached his 50 off 50 balls and his partner Carlos Brathwaite was batting sensibly. With 38 needed off 30, the game was in the balance, and it would require something special for the game to become wide open.
Mitch Starc did just that. Removing Holder (51 off 57) and Brathwaite (16 off 17), the Windies’ hopes became very slim, and the loss of Sheldon Cottrell in the 48th over meant it was very close to curtains for the West Indies. Ashley Nurse hit four boundaries in a row during the last over, but the West Indies had lost by 15 runs.
The West Indies had Australia on the ropes with both bat and ball, but they had failed to capitalise on those moments and let Australia creep back into the game.
Dropping Smith and Coulter-Nile on 26 and 61 didn’t help the Windies’ cause either while Andre Russell’s brain fade was the turning point of the match in the end.
Their short-ball tactic worked in the beginning, but once they were found out – there was no plan B. For Australia, this was a massive wake-up call before the big clash against India. But the Aussies still got the two points, and ultimately, that’s all that matters in tournaments.