UPDATED: July 15, 2021, 05:54 PM IST
When Fabian Allen kept depositing the ball in the stands in the penultimate over, bowled by Riley Meredith, at Daren Sammy Stadium, it seemed as though one of Mitchell Marsh best nights in coloured clothes for Australia might not end in victory.
But Allen edged behind, and with 11 to defend in the final over against Andre Russell, Mitchell Starc produced a masterclass to deny boundaries for five deliveries and earn Australia their first win of the tour.
After Starc had expensive outings in the first two games of the series – where his combined figures were 8-0-89-0 – he responded with his most economical four overs in the third game (1 for 15) and then this match-clinching over when the odds had appeared to favour the in-form Russell.
“I thought he was world-class,” Marsh said. “At the start of that over, I was at the short third man with Finchy [Aaron Finch] and those moments, that’s the ultimate. Mitchell Starc versus Andre Russell, two of the best in the world at what they do, that’s why you play. We love that stuff. You’d like it to be not as close but that’s cricket at the highest level, was awesome to watch that last over.
“He [Starc] may have had a slower start to the series but he’s the best in the world and that over tonight, we’ve got a lot of young bowlers who aspire to be like that. He’s a great leader, a great white-ball bowler.”
Adam Zampa also had his best outing of the series so far with 2 for 20 as he and Marsh hauled West Indies back from a rapid start to the chase courtesy of Lendl Simmons. Jason Behrendorff was impressive on his return – his first Australia outing since the 2019 World Cup – and it was somewhat surprising he wasn’t handed the 19th over, which then almost took the game away from the visitors.
“We saw with both teams batting against the new ball was the time to do and we knew it was going to slow up,” Marsh said. “It was about hanging in there, the plan was really simple, Zamps does what he does, he’s done it for a long time now, and for me, it’s about taking as much pace off the ball as I can.”
Marsh has been the biggest gain from this tour so far for Australia as he has taken the chance to bat at No. 3 with three half-centuries in four games. Whether that clarifies anything ahead of the World Cup should Steven Smith be available is another issue but the selectors have seen one of their plans come off. He was just the third Australian men’s player to score a half-century and take three wickets in a T20I.
“I’m 29 now and have had a lot of experiences, both good and bad, in international cricket,” he said. “I came into this tour really well prepared, had a great break, feel in great physical shape and mentally feeling really good.
“As an allrounder, it’s pretty rare you get a game where you have the opportunity to get stuck in with bat and ball, but most importantly to get a win after going 3-0 was important for this young group.”