|| AFP ||
Obed McCoy and Hayden Walsh combined for seven wickets to trigger a stunning Australian collapse as the West Indies pulled off an 18-run victory in the opening fixture of the five-match T20 International series at the Darren Sammy Stadium in St Lucia on Friday.
Seamer McCoy (four for 26) and leg-spinner Walsh (three for 23) turned the match on its head as the tourists, replying to the home side's total of 145 for six, lost their last six wickets for 19 runs to be dismissed for 127 off 16 overs. Mitchell Marsh's 51 off 31 balls with two sixes and five fours appeared to have tilted the match decidedly in his team's favour until he fell to Walsh at 117 for six in the 13th over.
West Indies were indebted to Andre Russell's explosive 51 off 28 balls, his first T20I fifty, in reaching a total of some respectability.
Opening bowler Josh Hazlewood produced the outstanding figures of three for 12 off four overs and it required Russell's power-hitting which brought him five sixes and three fours to give the innings late impetus after the home side's top-order batting struggled after they were put in.
West Indies went into the match without regular captain Kieron Pollard who is nursing a hamstring injury sustained in the final match of the preceding T20I series against South Africa, which the Proteas clinched 3-2 with victory in the final match just six days earlier in Grenada.
Fittingly it was the stand-in skipper, wicketkeeper-batsman Nicholas Pooran, who effected the match-winning dismissal when Hazlewood was caught behind off McCoy to trigger celebrations among the Caribbean players which bore a hint of disbelief as they looked completely out of it with Australia crui ing along at 108 for four in only the 11th over of their reply.
"I felt we always had a chance if we could pick up a couple wickets and when it started going for us we were able to pull it off," said a delighted McCoy after receiving the "Man of the Match" award.
"I'm really enjoying my bowling and I am glad I can just make a contribution to this team," he added.
While McCoy was the outstanding bowler for the West Indies in the South Africa series, Walsh was not selected for any of those five matches but had an immediate impact when called into service at the start of this duel with the Australians.
Triggered the slide
He triggered the slide by bowling Ben McDermott with a googly in the 11th over and then claimed the all-important wicket of Marsh caught-and-bowled two overs later.
For Australian captain Aaron Finch, who was the first wicket to fall at the start of the chase when drove left-arm spinner Fabian Allen to extra-cover, the batting performance was completely unacceptable.
"We've got no excuses for what happened out there tonight," was Finch's curt assessment.
"In fact the pitch got better for batting as the match wore on. We just didn't focus on the job properly and paid the price," he added.
Australia have the chance to make amends in less than 24 hours with the second match to be played at the same venue on Saturday.