St Lucia: Australia have survived some late fireworks from West Indies skipper Darren Sammy to produce a solid 30-run win in their final one-day international to draw the ODI series in the Caribbean at 2-2.
Courtesy: Cricket Australia
Heading into the encounter at the Beausejour Cricket Ground on Sunday, the Australians trailed the West Indies 2-1 and were staring down the barrel of their first one-day series loss to the West Indies since 1995.
However, half centuries from stand-in Australian skipper Shane Watson (66), fellow opener David Warner (69) and newcomer Peter Forrest (53) ensured Australia set the hosts a competitive total of 9-281 from their 50 overs.
And it proved too much for the West Indies, who lost wickets early to slump to 7-118 in the 32nd over.
But Sammy gave the hosts a glimmer of hope with a sterling 84 off 50 deliveries as he paired with Andre Russell in a 101-run eighth wicket stand before being was dismissed by Clint McKay to wrap up the innings.
The wicket was a stroke of good fortune for McKay, who spilt a tough caught-and-bowled chance off Sammy in the 37th over, only to see the all-rounder blast him for two sixes and a four from three of the next four deliveries.
Brett Lee, though, produced a quality spell with the ball, taking 3-42 from nine overs while also being promoted up the batting order after his 59 in the fourth ODI, although he managed just 12 runs.
Overall, a 2-2 draw in this series was hardly what Australia expected after an impressive victory in the summer Tri-Series against India and Sri Lanka.
Having won the first game of the five-match series, Australia looked set for a big one-day campaign in the Caribbean.
But the hosts won the second, incredibly tied the third and convincingly defeated Australia in St Lucia on Friday on the back of Kieron Pollard’s blistering 102 off 70 deliveries.
Pollard and his team-mates could not repeat the dose in this encounter, however, making just 33 as his team only managed 252 in reply.
The series result leaves the West Indies rueing Kemar Roach’s suicidal attempted run during the third match in Kingstown last week.
Just when the hosts were on the cusp of victory, Roach set off for a kamikaze single off the third-last ball and was run out, leaving the match tied and costing the West Indies dearly in their long-awaited quest for that series win over Australia.
Australia were given an early boost though, when West Indies skipper Sammy won the toss and elected to bowl, giving the Aussies the opportunity to put some early scoreboard pressure on.
And, that’s exactly what they did as Watson and Warner opened with a 118-run stand, Warner clubbing 10 fours and a six on his way to 69 before being outsmarted by spinner Sunil Narine (2-55).
But Watson and Forrest continued to take on the West Indies attack and while Australia stuttered in the middle order with Brett Lee (12), Forrest and David Hussey (first-ball duck) falling in quick succession, the West Indies couldn’t prevent the visitors setting an imposing total, despite Russell’s impressive 4-61.
Russell was also impressive in his gallant late stand with Sammy but even after he fell lbw on review to Xavier Doherty, Sammy did not give up, pulling the required target to 31 from the last 17 balls until he was the last man out, caught at deep midwicket.
Result: Australia won by 30 runs.
Man Of The Match: Darren Sammy (West Indies).
Result Of The Series: Series Drawn (2-2).
Man Of The Series: Kieron Pollard (West Indies).