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By Christy Doran-They left it late but Australia crawled over the line against the West Indies in large part to some terrible fielding and an excellent partnership between Aaron Finch and Matthew Wade.
The old cliche goes “catches win matches” and the West Indies put two down in the final over with the home side requiring 11 to win.
After putting away a poor opening ball to the boundary, Wade (39 off 29) was dropped in the deep from Sheldon Cottrell’s third delivery before Mitchell Starc was put down next ball.
The fast bowler sealed the three-wicket victory by scampering home for a second run as Australia chased down the Windies’ 9-145.
After Mark Waugh accused Australia of not paying the West Indies “enough respect”, under pressure skipper Finch responded by hitting 58 from 53.
His innings went some way to silence his critics, with Waugh and Brad Haddin left confused by the decision for the opener to slide down the order to accommodate Cameron Green, who at this point is not in Australia’s World Cup squad.
Haddin said the decision made “no sense” while former selector Waugh said he found it “confusing”.
“The thing is he’s not in the World Cup squad, so if you’re preparing for the World Cup why would you open with him?” Waugh said on Fox Cricket.
“Wouldn’t Aaron Finch be opening the batting if you were preparing for the World Cup, so I find it a little confusing.”
But despite copping a short ball first up, Finch’s balance returned and the skipper’s innings will give him plenty of confidence after a testing 18 months, which included seeing him retire from ODIs.
Australia lost David Warner (14) and Mitch Marsh in the second over to poor shots.
A mini partnership between Green and Finch settled the ship, before the former was caught attempting an audacious shot over the top but was but was bowled.
Glenn Maxwell and Tim David fell for ugly ducks, bringing veteran wicket-keeper Wade to the crease as he repeated his heroics from last year’s World Cup.
Finch and Wade, who was one of the “unsung heroes” of Australia’s maiden World Cup crown, put on a 69-run partnership after coming to the crease at 5-58.
Finch was furious when he “left the door ajar” by skiing a full pitched delivery, but Australia got on the line thanks to Wade.
Earlier, some stunning batting from Kyle Mayers left the world in awe.
The left-hander hit the most effortless, clean six you will see as he hit Green over cover for six off the back foot.
After getting away early, the breaks were put on Mayers and he was bowled by Pat Cummins.
Late in their innings, the West Indies are 7-108 with Josh Hazlewood (3-35) and Cummins (2-22) starring. (FoxSports)