For most parts of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 game at Trent Bridge, Australia was facing an uphill task. The top order was blown away by the hostility of the West Indies pacers. It took the tail to show the top order how to bat. Nathan Coulter-Nile blasted 92, the highest by a No.8 in World Cups and his partnership with Steve Smith, who roared back with 73 boosted Australia to 288 all out. Mitchell Starc got rid of the West Indies big-hitters, Chris Gayle, Andre Russell, Jason Holder and Carlos Brathwaite as he picked up yet another five-wicket haul to give Australia a 15-run win and register their second win in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 encounter on Thursday.
The bowlers deserve the credit for Australia’s turnaround. However, one bowler contributed with the bat and it was Coulter-Nile who enhanced Australia to a total which would be tricky on a wicket which was good for batting. Chasing 289, Pat Cummins struck early by removing Evin Lewis. The stage was set for Universe Boss vs the Starc Power. Gayle was clearly undone by the pace of Starc and in this contest, DRS and umpires played a massive role.
Third time, not the charm
The first part of the drama came when Gayle was given out caught behind only for the decision to be overturned as there was no edge. However, the ball hit the stump and the bail was not dislodged. In the same over, Starc bowled a yorker and Gayle was hit on the back pad. The umpire, Chris Gaffaney, gave it out again but the impact was outside leg. It looked to be Gayle’s day and he pounced on Pat Cummins with three boundaries as he went past 1000 runs.
However, Starc persisted. He bowled a yorker and Gayle jammed it out with all his skills. However, the umpire had failed to spot a no-ball and it proved to be a costly miss. Starc delivered a ball which swung in late and hit Gayle on the back pad. This time, it was not third time lucky as Gayle was trapped in front.
Shai Hope, who had been in fine form shared a stand with Nicholas Pooran and Shimron Hetmyer as West Indies stayed in the hunt. However, Zampa accounted for Pooran but Hetmyer ensured Hope got to his 11th fifty. Australia, though, maintained the pressure and had Hetmyer run-out. That brought in Jason Holder, a very capable all-rounder. However, West Indies’ ‘Hopes’ took a big dent when Hope miscued Cummins to be caught at midwicket for 68.
It was now the battle of the big-hitters. Andre Russell, who decimated bowlers in the IPL, signalled his intentions by blasting a big six off Zampa and a couple of boundaries of Cummins. Holder continued to find the boundary as the game was evenly poised. However, in a moment of brain fade, Russell miscued a lofted shot to deep backward point and Glenn Maxwell, running back from point, took a brilliant catch under pressure and the celebrations showed how much the wicket meant.
Starc proceeded to seal the game in the crucial 46th over. With West Indies looking to play him out, Starc got the wicket of Carlos Brathwaite and accounted for Holder in the same over. When he took his fifth wicket and became the fastest to 150 wickets, Australia had sealed a win. A win that looked highly unlikely when West Indies had chosen to bowl.
Coulter-Nile chips in
Australia was left reeling at 38/4 in the seventh with David Warner, Aaron Finch, Usman Khawaja and Glenn Maxwell falling cheaply. Steve Smith held the innings together and was given good support from Marcus Stoinis and Alex Carey. The partnership with Carey, worth 109 runs, revived Australia but once the wicketkeeper fell for 45, Australia was still miles away from posting a competitive total against the Windies. However, Nathan Coulter-Nile, coming in at No.8, had other ideas and he proceeded to change the course of the game and put West Indies on the backfoot.
After starting slowly, Coulter-Nile opened up with two boundaries off Oshane Thomas to signal his intentions. Smith calmly notched up his 20th fifty and he was happy to give the strike more frequently to Coulter-Nile. The right-hander reposed the faith by hammering Andre Russell for a couple of boundaries. The momentum was with Australia as Coulter-Nile smashed a big six off Russell.
With Smith departing for 73 thanks to a magnificent catch from Sheldon Cottrell, the onus was on Coulter-Nile and he did not disappoint. He clubbed offspinner Ashley Nurse for a boundary and was dropped by Shimron Hetmyer at midwicket.
Having received life, Coulter-Nile proceeded to punish Sheldon Cottrell for two sixes and he looked good to reach a record century but in the quest for quick runs, Coulter-Nile miscued a lofted shot off Carlos Brathwaite to be caught at long-off. His knock of 92 broke plenty of records in the process. Coulter-Nile's 92 is the highest by a No.8 in the history of World Cups and in the end, the effort by Coulter-Nile showed the depth in Australia's batting and it proved to be enough against a side packed with power-hitters who did not bat well according to the situation.