“Hence, there were moments with both bat and ball that could’ve changed the complexion. There are a lot of ifs and buts, however, Windies didn’t play badly but it was that kind of performance which just wasn’t enough”
It was a match where the pendulum swung from one way to the other. But, if you watched the game between Australia and West Indies after the last ball, you could see the West Indian players were dejected. Their heads were down and the disappointment was clearly seen. They let the game off the hook multiple points and what’s worse is that they let go off two points.
This is a very different West Indies side. If you compare the side that played the 2018 World Cup Qualifiers and this one, there’s a hell lot of difference. That one just about managed to sneak through. However, this one seems aggressive and attacking. They keep coming at you, whether it’s with the ball or with the bat. They showed that against Pakistan and how effective it can be.
Their plan against the mighty Aussies was not too different. They wanted to keep going at them and it did work for quite a large part of the game. With both bat and ball, Windies were calling the shots at different stages in the game against Australia at Trent Bridge.
They did the same thing to Australia’s top-order what they did to Pakistan’s – use the short-ball theory, unsettle them and then nip them out in different ways. At one point, Australia were 38/4 and then 79/5. There should’ve been no way, Australia should’ve scored over 200 runs from that position.
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However, some sloppiness in the field and with the ball cost them dearly. The Windies pacers continued bowling short and kept feeding Nathan Coulter-Nile with freebies and he kept punishing them. They might’ve overdone the short ball.
The 31-year-old pacer was in some mood and first, he rebuilt along with Steve Smith before unleashing an attack at the death which proved to be the difference. He was also dropped by Shimron Hetmyer when Coulter-Nile was batting on 61 and he went on to add 31 runs more as Australia reached 288 when they were bowled out with an over to spare.
At Trent Bridge, more or less anything can be chased. The pitch is flat and the ball comes on to the bat very nicely, the outfield is extremely quickly, boundaries are short and the ground is oddly shaped. Hence, hunting down 289 was not a big ask. But Australia had a potent bowling attack.
At various stages of the chase, it looked like West Indies were cruising and the pressure was on Australia but failed to capitalize. They have a template of each batsman simply walking in and tonking the ball. Andre Russell did that, Carlos Braithwaite did that. When it comes off, there’s nothing like it. However, it didn’t come off. As a result, every time it looked like Windies were ahead, poor decision making cost them.
The runout of Shimron Hetmyer. It was a big moment in the game. Shai Hope and Hetmyer had just added 50 runs for the fourth wicket and were looking to take this game deep. However, confusion led to the latter’s downfall.
This wasn’t as big a moment or lack of awareness from two experienced campaigners. Andre Russell is one of the most feared batsmen in world cricket at the moment. Meanwhile, Carlos Braithwaite is very handy with the bat as well and is very well capable of turning games around.
But the two of them played the worst shots of the day. And both against Mitchell Starc, Australia’s best bowler. Russell had to play out that one Starc over as it was his last in that spell. However, adrenaline got the better of the Jamaican all-rounder and the Windies paid the price.
Against Australia’s best bowler, he went to hit out every ball and it resulted in his downfall. In the end, Russell’s short innings came to an end. Meanwhile, the same is the case with Braithwaite. Starc came back for his death overs spell in the 46th over (he had two overs left).
Jason Holder and Braithwaite had batted well until then before the latter committed the same mistake. He holed out at long-on trying to clear the fence. In the last five overs, two overs were going to be bowled by Stoinis but Braithwaite wasn’t patient enough. These two wickets not only broke the momentum but also the back of the Windies side.
The shot-making was terrible and given the situation of the game, it was ill-advised for the situation. Braithwaite did that with a mere four overs to spare when 37 runs were required and Russell was out in the 43rd over. But those acted as big moments in the game as it helped Australia to claw their way back. Every time they seemed ahead in the game, they gave Aussies the chance to come back and they will never miss that.
Hence, there were moments with both bat and ball that could’ve changed the complexion. There are a lot of ifs and buts, however, Windies didn’t play badly but it was that kind of performance which just wasn’t enough. They kept losing wickets and it kept swaying the match in Australia’s favour.
Make no mistake, this isn’t the Windies of the last few years but it’s a rejuvenated one that is darkhorse in this tournament. They seem a lot stronger and powerful outfit.