Incredible Starc over saves crumbling Aussies

Mitchell Starc has held his nerve to seal Australia’s first win of the T20 series against the West Indies in the Caribbean.

Starc (0-37 off four) stepped up to bowl the final over of the innings with the West Indies needing 11 to win, having just seen Riley Meredith (1-57 off four) concede 25 runs off the previous over as the home side threatened to steal an unlikely win.

But the left-arm quick was superb under pressure, with Andre Russell unable to find the boundary. Bizarrely, Russell refused to take singles through the over, backing himself to hit fours and sixes to win the match.

The West Indies eventually finished on 6-185 in reply to Australia’s 6-189.

Much of the credit for the win lay with Mitchell Marsh and Adam Zampa. Marsh continued his fine form with his highest international score in the shortest format of the game, as well as his best-ever bowling figures.

His double of 75 from 44 balls and 3-24 earned him the man of the match award.

“It’s big, having the responsibility of batting in the top three,” Marsh said.

“Stats suggest if someone gets over 60 you win more than you lose, that’s something we’ve spoken about.”

Marsh reached his 50 from just 24 balls in a powerful display of hitting.

“I thought the new ball came on really well tonight, we saw that with both teams,” he explained.

“We certainly saw that as an opportunity to try and get ahead early, I’ve grown up at the WACA so I love fast bowling.”

Zampa’s performance with the ball was also an important factor, the leg-spinner taking 2-20 off his four overs. His introduction, in the fifth over of the West Indies innings, paid immediate dividends, picking up the wicket of Evin Lewis and breaking an opening stand that yielded 62 from just 29 balls.

“It was a really good all-round performance,” said Australian captain Aaron Finch.

“I thought our bowlers showed a lot of character, especially towards the back end. It’s never easy against guys that have got great reputations and huge power.

“We knew that if Mitchell Starc executed he’s a good as anyone in the world, we had a lot of faith in him.”

Marsh’s 75 formed the backbone of Australia’s total, along with 53 from Finch.

Of continuing concern though was yet another middle-order collapse, with Alex Carey (first ball duck), Moises Henriques (6) and Ashton Turner (6) departing in quick fashion, as Australia slipped from 1-126 in the 12th over to 6-166 in the 18th over.

Apart from Marsh and Finch, only No.7 Dan Christian (22 not out from 14) reached double figures.

Leg-spinner Hayden Walsh once again exposed Australia’s middle order frailties against spin, picking up 3-27 off four overs, with the wickets of Finch, Carey and Turner putting the brakes on Australia’s innings.

Today’s innings was the third time in the four matches so far this series Marsh has passed 50, the 29-year-old making a strong case to retain the number three spot for the upcoming World Cup.

Steve Smith, no certainty to be fit for the tournament in October, has batted in that position in most of Australia’s matches since 2019, with Josh Philippe and Matthew Wade filling the role most recently when Smith was absent.

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