KINGSTOWN, St Vincent, CMC – Spineless batting sent West Indies crashing to yet another defeat here yesterday, as they lost the opening One-day International of the five-match series against Australia by 64 runs at the Arnos Vale Stadium.
Chasing a moderate 205 for victory on a slowish track, West Indies capitulated from 97 for three in the 24th over to 140 all out off 32.2 overs, to extend their wretched run against the rampant Aussies.
The Windies were making a fist of it when Marlon Samuels (35) and Dwayne Bravo (32) were engaged in an exciting 64-run stand for the fourth wicket.
However, both batsmen fell in the space of four runs with no runs added as the hosts lost six wickets for seven runs, with left-arm spinner Xavier Doherty, who claimed four for 48 and seamer Clint McKay, with two for 22, destroying the middle and lower order.
Not even a frenetic 20-ball 35 from Darren Sammy, in a 36-run last wicket stand with Kemar Roach (one not out) could rally the West Indies at the end.
West Indies have now lost 10 of their last 11 ODIs to Australia.
Earlier, the Windies were handed a golden opportunity to start the series with a win when their bowlers produced a magnificent effort to limit Australia’s dangerous batting line-up to 204 for eight off their 50 overs.
Medium pacer Dwayne Bravo, playing in his first match for the Windies in nearly a year, finished with three for 58 but it was the off-spinning duo of Sunil Narine and Marlon Samuels that put the brakes on the Aussie scoring.
Narine was outstanding in taking one for 24 from his 10 overs while Samuels snared two for 29 from his eight.
Opting to bat first after inning the toss, Australia seemed en route for a big total when they cruised to 91 for one in the 24th over.
However, three wickets tumbled for eight runs in the space of 19 balls to leave the Aussies on 99 for four, causing the innings to lose momentum.
Debutant George Bailey, who top-scored with 48, and Mike Hussey, 32, patched up the innings with a 63-run, fifth wicket partnership to mount somewhat of a recovery.
However, fast bowler Kemar Roach, who claimed two for 33 from his 10 overs, kept things tight at the end to ensure they would be no late flourish.
David Warner (40) and captain Shane Watson (21) had earlier put on a cautious 31 from 43 balls for the first wicket, to give the Aussies an uneventful start.
There were no signs of the carnage to come when debutant opener Johnson Charles stroked three fours in scoring 13 from 11 balls, as West Indies opened their run chase brightly.
However, when he sliced McKay to Mike Hussey at third man in the fourth over, his dismissal triggered a collapse that saw three wickets fall for 18 runs.
His opening partner Kieran Powell (8) lobbed an attempted pull off pacer Brett Lee to Bailey at mid-on in the seventh over before stylish left-hander Darren Bravo was disastrously run out for four in the 11th over, attempting a sharp single but failing to beat Lee’s direct hit.
Dwayne Bravo, Darren’s older brother, then paired with Samuels to repair the damage.
The right-handed Bravo stroked five fours and a six off 43 balls while Samuels, also a right-hander, faced 58 balls and counted two fours and three sixes – successive straight hits off Doherty in the bowler’s first over.
Fast bowler Dan Christian then got one to breach Bravo’s tentative push in the 24th over and in the next over, Samuels played one big shot too many at Doherty and was taken at slip by Shane Watson.
Carlton Baugh fell to the last ball of the over without a run added and Andre Russell (1), Kieron Pollard (4) and Sunil Narine then fell in quick succession, to leave the Windies on the brink of defeat at 104 for nine.
Sammy then entertained with three fours and three sixes but his fireworks only delayed the inevitable.