On Friday, West Indies batted first and were bowled out at the WACA for 70. Two days later, Australia were sent in at the same ground and were 6 for 98. Another short day's play loomed. But George Bailey's maiden international century changed all of that and drove Australia to a scarcely believable 7 for 266 - after the match he said he had considered anything more than 200 a bonus - and Mitchell Starc's second consecutive five-wicket haul confirmed Australia's 54-run victory.
The Perth fans who returned after seeing only 33.1 overs in the first match were certainly rewarded for their dedication. Not only did they see Bailey's remarkable unbeaten 125, they were also treated to some dazzling fielding from West Indies and some powerful striking in their unsuccessful chase. Kieran Powell and Dwayne Bravo struck two sixes each as they kept West Indies in the contest, but just as entertaining were the four sixes Sunil Narine took off the first four balls of a Glenn Maxwell over late in the game.
Maxwell had his revenge later in the over when Narine was stumped for 24 off six balls. If he hadn't already found out during the day, Maxwell would also have been greeted when he left the field by the news that he had sold for a $1 million price tag in the IPL auction that unfolded while the Australians were playing. It was quite a way to cap off a match in which he took 4 for 63, his first wickets at ODI level. Among them were Bravo, caught behind for 45, and the dangerous Kieron Pollard and Darren Sammy cheaply.
When the final wicket fell, Jason Holder run out in the 39th over, West Indies had reached 212, still well short of their goal. The damage had mostly been done at the top of the order by Starc, who found plenty of swing in his first spell and pitched the ball full and straight. Chris Gayle (4) was the first to fall, missing a ball that slanted in towards the off stump, and continued his poor run of form.
In the same over, Starc's first of the innings, Ramnaresh Sarwan was also trapped lbw to a delivery that pitched in line and swung back in to the right-hander. Sarwan did not manage to get his bat anywhere near the ball and his second-ball duck meant he would leave Perth yet to get off the mark in the series, having also scored a duck in the first ODI on Friday. Darren Bravo (14) was Starc's third lbw and his dismissal left West Indies wobbling at 3 for 33.
But Dwayne Bravo and Powell led the recovery with a 126-run partnership that put West Indies firmly back in the contest. Powell was especially impressive, striking ten fours and a pair of sixes before he was lbw to Starc for 83, the victim of a successful Australian review. It was one of two reviews that went against West Indies in the chase, and by far the less controversial of the two. How the third umpire Asad Rauf came to overturn Nigel Llong's not-out decision against Devon Thomas was a mystery.
Starc dug the ball in short and Thomas, facing his first ball of the innings, thrust his hands up to fend and the ball fizzed through to Matthew Wade. Despite replays showing no Hot Spot mark, no definite vision of the ball hitting the gloves, and no clear sound as the ball went past, the decision was overturned and Thomas was gone for a golden duck. It was a baffling moment and one that took a little of the gloss of what was otherwise an excellent performance from the Australians.
It wasn't looking so good earlier in the day at 6 for 98. At the halfway point of the innings, Bailey was already the last recognised batsman and Australia needed something special from him to deliver them a competitive total, but even so his unbeaten 125 from 110 balls was greater than anything they could have hoped for at that stage.
The top-order collapse came largely through poor shot selection and brilliant West Indian fielding as the competition for catch of the day intensified seemingly with each wicket. The Australian recovery then arrived via a 100-run seventh-wicket partnership between Bailey and his fellow Launcestonian James Faulkner, who made 39, and then an unbeaten 68-run eighth-wicket stand between Bailey and Mitchell Johnson, who finished on 16.
Much of the damage came in the final five overs as the Australians added 64 runs, including 25 during a disastrous 50th over for West Indies bowled by Dwayne Bravo. In the 49th over, Bailey brought up his hundred by slogging a Kemar Roach full toss for six over midwicket and he followed with three more sixes from Bravo, over long-on and cover, as the bowler was unable to find the yorker length required.
It was a perfect example of how to build an innings in difficult circumstances as Bailey began slowly and worked his way into a rhythm, constructing the partnerships Australia needed to get themselves back in the game. His half-century had come from 69 balls and by the end of his innings, he had accumulated so many runs that, since his debut in March last year, only Ian Bell had scored more ODI runs than Bailey's 720.
Initially, he had outstanding support from Faulkner, who was playing his first innings at international level. He scored a valuable 39 from 67 balls, occupying time and ticking the scoreboard over after the top order was unable to do the job. Faulkner had come to the crease after Maxwell was bowled for a golden duck by Sammy, following quickly from the loss of Matthew Wade for 16.
Australia's problems began when the opener Usman Khawaja, on 3, flicked Roach off his pads and was brilliantly caught by Powell, who hurled himself to his right from forward square leg and managed to make the ball stick. Khawaja's opening partner Aaron Finch (11) fell to an even better take when his searing cut off Holder was snapped up at cover point by Darren Bravo, who plucked the ball one-handed above his head.
Phillip Hughes (21) pulled Sammy to Darren Bravo at midwicket and Michael Clarke was bowled by a Dwayne Bravo yorker for 16, but then came the best catch of the lot. Wade went for a cut off Narine and his edge fizzed high and fast and Sammy displayed quite remarkable reflexes to thrust his hand above his head and grab the ball, which looked destined for the boundary.
But that turned out to be the high point of the day for West Indies. For Bailey, Starc and the rest of the Australians, a much happier few hours were about to unfold.