Australia open series with 113-run thrashing
Australia 8 for 256 (Watson 59, Pollard 3-45) beat West Indies 143 (Pollard 31, Harris 3-24, Hauritz 3-28) by 113 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Another series, another opponent, same result. Two days after completing a tri-format clean-sweep against Pakistan, Australia continued their unbeaten summer with a 113-run victory over West Indies, set up by Shane Watson's half-century and Doug Bollinger's new-ball efforts. Chris Gayle's prediction of a 4-1 West Indies win can still come true but they have only one day to regroup before Tuesday's second match in Adelaide.
The result was understandable given the number of stars missing from West Indies' line-up through injury, but disappointing after Kieron Pollard's career-best bowling performance helped peg Australia back following a strong start from Watson and Ricky Ponting. Keeping Australia to 8 for 256 after they were 1 for 135 having been sent in was a good effort and a brisk start from Gayle would have caused some flutters in the Australian camp.
Sadly for the sake of a close contest, Gayle departed for 7 in the third over when his miscued pull off Bollinger was well caught by Mitchell Johnson, running back with the flight at mid-off. His opening partner Runako Morton looked awfully scratchy, having not played the warm-up game, and edged behind off Ryan Harris for 3.
By the time the fifth over was finished, Travis Dowlin had edged Bollinger to second slip, the score was 3 for 12, and the result was all but decided. There was a token recovery. Lendl Simmons looked like threatening the 23-ball ODI duck once made by his uncle Phil but eventually got off the mark from his 13th delivery and put together a 64-run stand with Pollard.
However, they departed within the space of an over, Pollard having skied Nathan Hauritz to long-on for 31 and Simmons well taken by Brad Haddin off Watson. The final four wickets fell for eight runs and Harris and Hauritz cleaned up the tail to finish with three wickets each as West Indies were dismissed for 143 in the 35th over.
The day before the match, Gayle said the absence of senior players like Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Ramnaresh Sarwan and Dwayne Bravo due to injury gave the younger men the perfect chance to shine. That will have to wait for another day. That West Indies suffered their biggest ODI loss in terms of runs since Australia thrashed them by 169 in Basseterre in 2008 was disappointing after their bowling effort.
West Indies stopped Watson (59) and Ponting (49) from capitalising on their starts and it severely halted Australia's momentum as none of the batsmen who followed found their touch. Ponting and Watson put on 85 for the second wicket and were comfortably finding runs with the field back when Watson misjudged an attempted swipe off Gayle.
Watson had handled the fast men with ease and pulled a pair of well-timed boundaries but when he tried to hit across the line off the spinner, he skied a catch to long-on. It was Pollard who made use of that change in flow as his accurate line gave the batsmen little room to work in. An over after having Ponting dropped at cover by Gayle, Pollard had his man when he moved the ball back in to take Ponting's off stump.
After removing Australia's captain he followed with the vice-captain Michael Clarke, who had laboured to 18 from 30 balls without a boundary when he was judged to have edged behind. Pollard's third wicket came when Brad Haddin scooped a slower ball back towards the bowler, who stuck his right hand out and clasped the catch.
Pollard is in the side primarily as a batsman and in 15 previous ODIs he had never taken more than two wickets in an innings. His 3 for 45 was important and he had good support from Kemar Roach, whose speed peaked at around 152kph. He didn't have the benefit of the same pitch on which Shaun Tait hit 160kph on Friday - a different surface was used - but he will remain a handful throughout the series.
Although Australia pushed on through Michael Hussey (28) and Mitchell Johnson, who made 21, they could have got closer to 300 had Ponting and Watson been allowed to continue. The innings had started slowly and the openers crawled to 0 for 14 from five overs before Shaun Marsh departed for 20.
Ponting signalled his intentions early by driving Smith over long-off for six but it took 11 overs for Ponting to score another boundary. He wasn't alone in his struggles. Cameron White, usually a clean hitter, struck just one four in his scratchy 35-ball 22 before he miscued a hook off Roach and toed a catch to Denesh Ramdin, who reacted smartly diving to his right.
Nobody but Ponting and Watson passed 30. But perspective was gained when West Indies' top scorer made 31. In the end, Australia did enough with both bat and ball. The victory took Australia's winning streak against West Indies to nine one-dayers in a row, stretching back to the 2006 Champions Trophy. They have not lost any of their past ten ODIs against any opponents. They will need to lose their next four for Gayle's prediction to come true.
Brydon Coverdale is a staff writer at Cricinfo