Australia romp to 125-run triumph
Australia 5 for 324 (Ponting 61, Hopes 57*, Watson 51) beat West Indies 199 (Sammy 47, Bollinger 3-33) by 125 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
In a summer of big one-day wins, Australia saved one of their heftiest victories for last. After Ricky Ponting, James Hopes and Shane Watson set up a daunting 5 for 324, Doug Bollinger continued his torment of Chris Gayle and the West Indies top order crumbled - again - to leave the crowd in no doubt about the approaching result less than five overs in to the chase.
The 125-run triumph maintained Australia's chances of going through the summer undefeated in all forms of the game, with two Twenty20s against West Indies all that remain. Already they have equalled their effort of 2000-01, the only other home season when they did not lose a Test or ODI. Back then the team boasted Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath, Adam Gilchrist and Mark Waugh, and faced West Indies and Zimbabwe.
The developing Australia of this summer will be extra pleased with their record, although their opponents Pakistan and West Indies have been weak. Here West Indies dropped five catches and for the third time in the series they were three down by the end of the fifth over. Little wonder that at the end of a string of such one-sided contests, only 15,538 fans turned up - the fewest ever for an ODI between the two teams at the MCG.
Those who did attend saw Bollinger snuff out West Indies' chances when he picked up Gayle's wicket for the sixth time in seven matches this summer. The only Test or ODI in which he failed to do so was the Sydney wash-out, when West Indies batted for six balls. Two top-edged sixes from Gayle were followed by a leading edge to cover and Bollinger had two wickets having trapped Travis Dowlin lbw from the second ball of the chase.
Ryan Harris added Narsingh Deonarine, who played on for 4, and Wavell Hinds, who gave Steven Smith his first ODI catch. Kieron Pollard's 45 featured two sixes but when he holed out to Smith in the deep off Hopes, all that was left for the crowd to look forward to was Smith's maiden wicket, an lbw against Denesh Ramdin, and a fighting 47 not out from Darren Sammy. Still, they had been treated to some exciting strokeplay during the Australian innings.
Ponting and Watson built the platform with half-centuries before Hopes and Adam Voges blasted them past the 300-mark in the final stages. Their 82-run partnership in 7.1 overs featured superb placement from both men, especially Hopes, who struck ten fours and found the gaps with ease. He made his third ODI half-century and took only 24 balls to do it, giving him the fifth-quickest one-day fifty by an Australian.
Hopes finished unbeaten on 57 while Voges remained not out on 45. Hopes was put down at long-on by Hinds late in the innings and it continued a woeful fielding effort from West Indies. The selectors also made the strange decision to make no changes to the side that lost in Brisbane, despite the strike bowler Kemar Roach being passed fit.
It meant that the openers Watson and Brad Haddin were confronted with medium-pace new-ball offerings and they enjoyed hitting through the line, down the ground and over the top. Dwayne Smith and Ravi Rampaul obliged by serving up half-volleys and both men watched sixes sail back over their heads.
Watson in particular butchered the bowling and he brought up his half-century from 49 balls with perhaps the best of his three sixes, a searing pull over wide midwicket off Sammy. Two deliveries later Watson tried to work a Sammy full toss into the same region and was taken at deep midwicket for 51. Haddin was the quieter partner but still struck two sixes in his 42-ball 32 before he played on trying to pull Pollard.
Michael Clarke and Ponting calmly compiled a 104-run stand that included a couple of sixes but mostly consisted of push-and-run play with the field back. Ponting fell on 61 from 55 balls when he tried to glide Pollard through the vacant cordon and managed only to find the wicketkeeper's gloves. Clarke's 58-ball 47 ended when he miscued a pull off Rampaul and skied a catch to mid-on, where Deonarine barely clasped the chance.
Deonarine had already dropped Ponting on 47 at square leg when the batsman's sweep off Nikita Miller stayed a bit low. Ponting was given another life on 55 when Hinds' throw missed with Ponting a long way out of his ground. Haddin also enjoyed two breaks. On 7, Dowlin dropped a sitter at second slip before two balls later the bowler Smith couldn't quite hold on to a flat-batted smash back at him. Watson was also grassed on 29 when he flicked Smith to short fine-leg, where Rampaul missed a chance he should have taken.
It all combined to mean another easy win for Australia. Gayle predicted at the start of the series that West Indies would beat Australia 4-1; they lost 4-0. But they did win the tosses 4-1.
Brydon Coverdale is a staff writer at Cricinfo