Mitchell Marsh struck 75 and then took three wickets to get Australia into a winning position, but in the end, it came down to paceman Mitchell Starc’s fearless last-over bowling to end the West Indies’ winning streak.
The West Indies had won the first three games to clinch the five-match Twenty20 International series with two games to spare, and went within one scoring shot Wednesday of making it four straight wins.
The hosts needed 11 runs off the last over but Starc bowled five consecutive dot balls, cramping Andre Russell’s scoring options, before conceding a six on the final ball to secure a four-run win for Australia.
Australia captain Aaron Finch said the last over was more about trust than jitters.
“We knew that if Mitchell Starc executes he’s as good as anyone in the world,” Finch said. “He’s done it for the best part of 10 years, so we had a lot of faith in him. He’s got a lot of faith in himself. Just great to get across the line.”
The Australians batted first and posted 189-6 in an innings twice interrupted by rain breaks, with Marsh belting his 75 from 44 balls for his third half-century of the series and sharing a 114-run second-wicket stand with Finch, who contributed 53.
Marsh raised his 50 from 24 balls with a straight six against Fabian Allen as light rain started falling in the 9th over.
The West Indies were better after the interruption. Hayden Walsh Jr. (3-27), the leading wicket-taker in the series, bowled Finch and took a return catch to remove Alex Carey (0) on the next delivery to slow down the Australians at 126-3. The run-rate only lowered as the West Indies’ slow bowlers contained the middle-order.
The West Indies started aggressively in reply, with openers Lendl Simmons (72) and Evin Lewis (31) racing to 62, taking 15 in the second over from Riley Meredith and 23 in the fourth over from Dan Christian.
Wrist spinner Adam Zampa was introduced early, in the fifth over, and had almost immediate success when he bowled Lewis for 31 from 14 deliveries.
Marsh’s first wicket was a big one, having Chris Gayle (1) caught just inside the long-on boundary and the Australians rallied to peg back the run-rate.
“To defend what we defended tonight, against a very good West Indies team, was a great performance,” Marsh said. “It was a great finish and Starc’s last over was excellent.”
When Marsh removed Nicholas Pooran (16) and ended Simmons’s 48-ball innings on consecutive deliveries in the 16th over, it appeared the West Indies counterattack had withered.
But there was a sting in the tail.
Needing 36 off the last two overs to win, Russell and Fabian Allen (29) took on the bowling and plundered Meredith for 25.
Russell struck a six on the first ball of the over and Allen hit three consecutive sixes before edging the last ball behind, making the equation 11 runs required off six balls.
Enter left-armer Starc, one of the best fast bowlers in the world when he’s on the form.
Bowling from wide around the wicket and angling into Russell’s pads, he swung the game back for Australia.
Russell hit the last ball for six to finish not out on 24 to leave the home side at 185-6.
Pooran said on most other days, Russell and Allen would have got the West Indies across the line.
“Maybe we could have got more singles in the middle overs — that last over was well executed by Mitchell Starc, so well bowled to him,” Pooran said. But “the way Hayden bowled again, well done to him. Fabien Allen with the bat … so a lot of positives.”
The fifth game is on Friday.