The Australian bowlers once again did the job as Alex Carey and Co. toppled West Indies in the third and final One-Day International to claim the series 2-1 at Kensington Oval, Barbados on Monday (July 26). The visitors won the game by six wickets and with almost 20 overs to spare.
Opening batsman Evin Lewis played a lone hand with an unbeaten 55 as the tourists bundled out the home side for 152 in 45.1 overs. Mitchell Starc claimed three wickets, while Josh Hazlewood, Ashton Agar and Adam Zampa took two each. That effort lifted his series wicket haul to 11 and confirmed the left-arm pacer as “Man of the Series.”
"It’s my role in the team to use whatever pace and swing I have consistently through my spells. It helps when I’ve got Josh (Hazlewood) at the other end and the spinning quality we have as well in support," said Starc.
Then, Matthew Wade’s unbeaten 51 (52 balls, two sixes, five fours) led Australia to the target in 31.3 overs. He received good support from Carey (35) and Mitchell Marsh (29) after the West Indies prised out the openers early and the slow bowlers, led by Akeal Hosein, threatened to give their team a fighting chance at defending that modest target.
Yet the “Man of the Match” award did not go to either Starc or Wade but to left-arm spinning all-rounder Agar. Having been selected to replace younger brother and pacer Wes in the final XI on a surface expected to favour the slow bowlers, he responded with figures of 2 for 31 off his allotted ten overs and then contributed an important 19 not out in an unbroken fifth-wicket partnership of 54 to take his side through what could have been tricky chase.
Batting challenges were the defining features of the match as exemplified by Lewis’ effort at the top of the West Indies order when his captain, Kieron Pollard, chose to bat on winning the toss for the first time in the series.
Forced to retire hurt at the start of the innings when he edged a delivery onto his helmet, Lewis returned at the fall of the fifth to prevent an abject capitulation in finishing on 55 not out off 66 balls with three sixes and five fours.
He suffered for a lack of support though with only four others getting into double-figures and no one else going past 20. It prompted his skipper to give a scathing assessment of the pitch conditions, not just for the deciding encounter but the two other matches in the series.
"I think it is unacceptable for international cricket. We are not here to make excuses. We know we batted badly, but I think when you look at the scores through the series with two top international teams, I think it was embarrassing. Coming from St Lucia (where West Indies won the T20 International series 4-1) to this, I think it is absolutely ridiculous," said Pollard.
The likes of Shai Hope (14), Shimron Hetmyer (6), Darren Bravo (18), Pollard (11) and Jason Holder (5) all failed to get going as West Indies couldn't put on a single 50-run partnership. They were once reduced to 75/6 but Alzarri Joseph (15) and Lewis added 44 runs for the seventh wicket to lead their team to a respectable total.
West Indies will now have to quickly regroup, considering their first T20I against Pakistan is on Wednesday (July 28). They are scheduled to play four T20Is and two Tests against Pakistan, while Australia will travel to Bangladesh to play five T20Is.
(With inputs from AFP)