Australia justified their tournament favourite tag as they trounced the West Indies by six wickets, as they chased down the paltry target of 117 in a common canter, with 24 overs to spare.
Australia’s spinners dictated proceedings as they took a combined 7 for 58 and bowled the home side out inside 33 overs. A big crowd had turned out at Providence in the wake of Friday’s emphatic win over South Africa but they found very little to cheer about as an impatient batting line-up capitulated helplessly.
Steven Smith won the toss after the match was delayed due to a damp outfield and elected to field, which was surprising given how much the ball had turned on Friday night. The outfield was slow and Smith gambled on the West Indies’ likely frustration at struggling to score quickly on a slow deck.
Despite the pitch actually offering a lot more pace and bounce than on Friday, the strategy paid off handsomely as spinners Nathan Lyon (3-39) and Adam Zampa (3-16) restricted, probed, and attacked an enemy that all but surrendered under the hot Guyanese sun.
The West Indies had managed a tidy start when Johnson Charles (22) and Darren Bravo (19) looked comfortable with the score at 50 for 1 after 11 overs but a carelessly flashy drive by Bravo off Mitchell Starc (2-37) saw the number-three caught at cover point and that was the beginning of a story that didn’t not take very long to end as wickets fell like nine-pins.
Mitch Marsh (1-5) and Glenn Maxwell (1-3) augmented Australia’s spin campaign and showed, which is unusual for Australia, that they have the deepest and best balanced spin attack in the tournament. The West Indies have Sunil Narine and South Africa have Imran Tahir but Australia can comfortably bowl 30 or more overs of spin in an innings, should a pitch require it.
Australia’s batsmen looked to spend some time in the middle as they acquainted themselves with the foreign conditions but once again Narine (2-36) wreaked havoc as he claimed the scalps of Steve Smith (6) and Glenn Maxwell (0) through his masterly off-break variations and gave the patient crowd some bang for their buck.
It was too little too late for a team that relies so heavily on a few players and will need to put more runs on the board to win games.
Even with that mini collapse and without any hurrying they needed only 26 overs overs to seal the deal as David Warner (55 not out) took his side to an uneventful victory.
Australia will now enjoy a very superior net run rate in a tournament where each side plays the other two sides three times each before the final in Barbados on 26 June.
South Africa have a chance to make all three sides level on the log when they match up against Australia on Tuesday.