Rookie let-arm seamer Obed McCoy produced a devastating four-wicket haul to engineer a sensational Australia collapse, as West Indies clawed their way back to win the opening Twenty20 International by 18 runs in St Lucia late Friday night.
Defending a modest 146 at the Daren Sammy National Stadium after Andre Russell had struck his maiden T20 International fifty, West Indies appeared headed for defeat in the face of an aggressive Aussie start, which saw the visitors well placed at 108 for four in the 11th over.
But McCoy snatched four for 22 and leg-spinner Hayden Walsh chipped in with three for 23 as Australia lost their last six wickets for 19 runs to be dismissed for 127 with four overs left in the innings.
Mitchell Marsh top-scored with 51 off 31 deliveries – also his maiden T20I half-century – while opener Matthew Wade lashed a stunning 14-ball 33 but once Ben McDermott missed a charge at a straight one from Walsh and was bowled for two to be fifth out, Australia declined swiftly.
“I can’t give [the bowlers] enough credit. The Australians came out firing and we knew we had to get wickets to win this game,” said captain Nicholas Pooran, who stood in for the injured Kieron Pollard.
“We asked Hayden to just continue to attack those stumps for us and keep asking questions. And Obed McCoy, he just came and won it for us in the end.”
At the half-way stage of the innings, Australia were going at a decent clip and required only four runs per over to overhaul their target.
However, captain Aaron Finch said they paid the price for their over aggression, before panicking when wickets fell.
“After the position [Marsh] and Matty Wade put us into, I thought that just a bit of game-smarts would’ve got us over the line but we sort of panicked a little bit,” Finch conceded afterwards.
“We’ve been working on trying to be a bit more aggressive during those middle overs but maybe we needed to rein it in today and [be] a bit more smart.”
Russell had earlier plundered 51 off 28 balls to rescue a West Indies innings which meandered for the first ten overs, yielding only 53 runs with three wickets falling.
Opener Lendl Simmons struck 27 from 28 balls but fast bowler Josh Hazlewood grabbed key wickets to finish with three for 12 while fellow seamer March claimed two for 26, to limit the hosts to 145 for six off their 20 overs.
Left-hander opener Evin Lewis perished in the second over without scoring, tugging a pull at Hazlewood to wide mid on and veteran Chris Gayle’s wretched form continued when he too tried to pull one from the same bowler, and top-edged a simple catch to point for four in the sixth over.
Gayle is averaging 11 from his last 12 T20I innings.
When Simmons nicked Marsh behind in the eighth after belting two fours and sixes, West Indies were going nowhere at 35 for three.
However, Shimron Hetmyer (20) put on 30 for the fourth wicket with Pooran (17) before playing second fiddle in a 36-run, fifth wicket stand with Russell, who flexed his muscle to smack three fours and five giant sixes.
Russell added a further 36 for the sixth wicket with Fabian Allen (8 not out) before playing on to Hazlewood in the final over, as West Indies gathered 69 runs from the last six overs.
Australia lost Finch cheaply for four in the second over of their reply but Marsh arrived at number three to punch five fours and two sixes, posting 38 for the second wicket with Wade and 36 for the fourth wicket with Moises Henriques (16).
With the visitors in complete command, McDermott’s indiscretion in the 11th over opened the floodgates.
Marsh then tapped an innocuous delivery back to Walsh in the 13th over for a soft dismissal before McCoy produced a brilliant moment of athleticism to snare a low return catch in the next over, to send back Ashton Agar for one and claim his second wicket.
Four balls later in the 15th over, Dan Christian holed out to long on off Walsh for ten before McCoy knocked over the last two wickets in the next over to end the game.