Gros Islet, St Lucia: All-rounder Andre Russell’s maiden T20I half-century and a spirited comeback with the ball led West Indies to 18 run win over Australia in the first T20I of the five-match series, here on Saturday.
Sent out to bat, West Indies were restricted to 145/6 from their 20 overs as the metronomic Josh Hazlewood took 3/12 from his four overs.
Hazlewood struck twice in an opening three-over spell of 2/3, removing Evin Lewis (0) and Chris Gayle (4) to leave the hosts limping at 24/2 at the end of the Powerplay.
Mitchell Marsh (2/26) then chimed in with the dismissals of Lendl Simmons (27) and Shimron Hetmyer (20) either side of a brilliant direct hit from Josh Philippe to run-out stand-in captain Nicholas Pooran for 17.
Looking to steal a leg-bye as Australia appealed for an lbw against Hetmyer, Pooran was slow getting back into his crease and paid the price as Philippe dived in from mid-wicket before under-arming his throw into the stumps.
Thereafter, Russell’s special knock dragged the Caribbean team to a defendable total.The all-rounder blasted five sixes and three fours as he raced to 51 off 28 before perishing to Hazlewood in the final over.
Chasing a modest target, Australia lost the wicket of Aaron Finch (4) early to Fabian Allen (2/24).
However, Australia recovered from the loss and raced to 46/2 in four overs when Matthew Wade (33) fell to Russell (1/14).
Mewhile Philippe (1), Moises Henriques (16) and Ben McDermot (2) failed to leave too big an impact on the match, a half-century from Marsh (51) looked to be the game’s deciding hand.
But, Marsh fall to Hayden Walsh Jr (3/23) opened the door for the hosts and they did a superb comeback with the ball.
Seamer Obed McCoy (4/26) returned to the attack with a game-deciding spell, removing Agar (1), Starc (3) and Hazlewood (0) to finish off the match, with Walsh Jr chiming in with the key dismissal of Dan Christian (10).
In the end, Australia were bowled out for 127 in the 16th and lost the match by 18 runs.