Samuels ton in vain as Australia seal final berth

Marlon Samuels’s maiden One-Day International (ODI) ton against Australia and his record 194-run partnership with Denesh Ramdin (91) went in vain as Australia secured a six-wicket victory in the eighth match of the tri-series on Tuesday (June 21) to book a spot in the final. Samuels and Ramdin registered the highest fourth-wicket stand for West Indies against Australia to help the hosts to a healthy total of 282 for eight. However, their efforts were overshadowed by Glenn Maxwell’s unbeaten 26-ball 46 that followed a 122-run partnership between Mitchell Marsh (79 not out) and Steven Smith (78) as Australia won with 1.2 overs to spare.
Australia got off to a positive start in the chase as Aaron Finch and Usman Khawaja found the ropes regularly, capitalising on some poor deliveries that were on offer. However, the hosts came back strongly as they sent back the openers in successive overs. A leading edge brought about Finch’s downfall, giving Carlos Brathwaite a wicket while debutant Shannon Gabriel, who replaced Jerome Taylor, sent back Khawaja (caught-behind).
Despite the quick wickets, Australia managed to keep abreast with the scoring rate as Steven Smith and George Bailey forged a positive partnership. The West Indian bowlers erred in their line and lengths and were made to pay by the third-wicket pair, which raised a half-century stand. To make matters worse, a hamstring injury forced skipper Jason Holder to leave the field after bowling just two overs. Australia though lost a wicket against the run of play when Bailey got a leading edge off a Benn delivery that spun away sharply, ending a 64-run partnership.
Having ended a threatening partnership, West Indies would have hoped to pick up one or two more wickets to put Australia under further pressure. However, that wasn’t the case as Smith got into damage-control mode and had Mitchell Marsh for company as they kept the hosts at bay by bringing up the second fifty-plus partnership of the innings. Smith was watchful, dealing mostly in singles, as he decided to play the anchor’s role while Marsh scored some timely boundaries.
The Australian skipper took 73 deliveries for his third fifty-plus score of the series while Marsh also registered a half-century, even as the required rate was on the rise. Since Marsh’s streaky four off Brathwaite off the opening delivery of the 29th over, Australia were without a boundary for as many as 10.3 overs and managed only 46 runs during that phase. The duo, however, made up for the period of drought with a couple of fours that brought the equation down to 73 off the last 10 overs.
For the second time in the game, a century stand was raised by the fourth-wicket pair. However, the Australian partnership for the said wicket came to an end in an abrupt fashion as Smith, looking for a quick second, failed to out-run an accurate throw from Darren Bravo to the bowler Sulieman Benn. The equation for Australia was 66 off nine overs before Smith’s dismissal and it came down to 41 off five overs when Maxwell managed a couple of much-needed fours off Gabriel. And then the big hits followed.
A reverse-sweep off Narine for a six in the 46th over, Maxwell cleared the ropes for the first time before he took the attack to Brathwaite in the following over. A four, six and a four, off consecutive deliveries from Maxwell’s bat meant that Australia needed only 13 off the last three overs. It came down to three off the last two overs as the hard-hitting allrounder hit Narine for his fifth four, in an over that yielded 10 runs. The remaining three runs were scored without a sweat as Australia won with eight deliveries to spare. Earlier, Australia made early inroads after choosing to bowl first. Johnson Charles who took strike sporting a pair of shades, lasted only four deliveries as he got an outside edge off Starc in the opening over, that was snapped up by Smith, to depart without scoring. The first over was a wicket-maiden while Josh Hazlewood followed it up with another maiden as the new-ball bowlers stuck to tight lines, keeping the scoring rate in check. Just when the batsmen got going with a few boundaries, a terrific, one-handed catch by the skipper at first slip ended Bravo’s stay, giving Hazlewood a wicket. On a pitch that offered the quick bowlers pace and bounce in equal measure, Starc made good use of it to pick up his second wicket when he got rid of Andre Fletcher with a delivery that kicked off from a length. Hazlewood then bowled two more maidens in a spell that included 17 dot deliveries, to add more pressure on the West
Indian batsmen.

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