Fast bowler Mitchell Starc’s five-wicket haul and a defiant 92 by Nathan Coulter-Nile helped Australia beat West Indies by 15 runs at Trent Bridge on Thursday to secure their second consecutive win at the Cricket World Cup.
Chasing 289 for victory, West Indies got off to a poor start before Shai Hope (68) and Nicholas Pooran (40) laid the platform for the power-hitters, but the Starc-led Australian attack kept them on a tight leash, restricting them to 273-9.
“You have to keep trying to get wickets, once the West Indies batsmen get set they are so destructive and can hit it to all parts,” Australian captain Aaron Finch said.
“You have to try and stall their momentum and get them to take risks - it came off today.”
After leg-spinner Adam Zampa removed Pooran, fast bowler Pat Cummins had Hope caught at mid-on in the 35th over to deliver a body blow to the Windies who never recovered.
Starc claimed Jason Holder (51), Carlos Brathwaite and Sheldon Cottrell in the final five overs to finish with 5-46 in his 10 overs.
Earlier, Coulter-Nile struck the highest World Cup score for a number eight batsman as he took Australia to a competitive total after they lost their first five wickets for 79 runs.
“I absolutely was nervous. At 38-4 and they keep coming hard at you - we just had to keep hanging in there and to get 288 in the end was outstanding,” Finch added.
Having won the toss, the Windies new-ball attack of Cottrell and Oshane Thomas removed Australian openers David Warner and Finch with 26 runs on the board.
All-rounder Andre Russell struck in his first over when a thick edge from Usman Khawaja was taken by a brilliant one-handed catch by wicketkeeper Hope, before Glenn Maxwell was snared for a duck by Cottrell.
Smith (73) and wicketkeeper Alex Carey (45) halted a middle-order collapse before Coulter-Nile struck four sixes and eight fours, falling short of his maiden century when he was removed by Brathwaite in the 49th over.
“I didn’t think I’d get that much but happy to. I got a bit of a spray from the coach after getting out in a warm-up game so thought I’d stick around,” man-of-the-match Coulter-Nile said.
“I found it very difficult, they were either bowling very quick or the pitch was up and down. It looked like they were on track (during the chase) the whole way until Starc came back.”
In a game dotted with umpiring errors reversed by the Decision Review System (DRS), Windies opener Chris Gayle was unlucky to be adjudged lbw when he should have had a free-hit after Starc had overstepped in the previous delivery.
Umpire Chris Gaffney had given Gayle out twice in the third over but the opener survived with two successful DRS appeals.
Holder had two incorrect decisions reversed, first off Maxwell and then Zampa.
“I’m sorry but the umpiring in this game has been atrocious,” said former West Indies quick Michael Holding who was commentating on the game. They are being intimidated, that means they are weak.”