FAST bowler Xavier Bartlett took four wickets on debut, with three Australian batsmen scoring half-centuries as the 50-over world champions strolled to a comprehensive eight-wicket victory over West Indies in their first One-day international (ODI) at Melbourne Cricket Ground on February 2.
A much-changed Australian team, which is being led by veteran Steve Smith, sent West Indies to have first strike.
The Caribbean team were reeling at 59 for four in the 16th over after a sharp opening burst by Bartlett (four for 17), before recovering in the middle overs to be bowled out for a modest score of 231 in the 49th over.
The Windies owed their middle-order recovery to the pair of Keacy Carty (88 off 108 balls) and Roston Chase (59 off 67 balls), who put on a healthy 110 runs for the fifth wicket before the latter was castled by an Adam Zampa delivery in the 37th over. Carty, who struck his third ODI 50, accelerated his innings brilliantly after bringing up his 50 off 82 balls, and struck six fours and two sixes as he closed in on a deserved ton.
Carty and the West Indies' innings took a turn for the worse at the end of the 41st over, though, when Sean Abbott effected a direct run-out to send Carty on his way after Hayden Walsh Jr (20 off 35 balls) called for an ill-advised run.
West Indies slipped to 193 for six at that stage, and added just 38 more runs before a hooking Walsh Jr was caught in the deep off Abbott's bowling.
Bartlett was easily the pick of the Aussie bowlers, and took three wickets in his opening spell to break the back of the West Indies batting order. Bartlett got his first international with only his third ball, when he comprehensively bowled Justin Greaves (one) with an off-swinger which hit the top of the off stump. He got his next scalp in his following over, as Alick Athanaze (five) edged a ball through to wicket-keeper Josh Inglis. Bartlett's third wicket was the big scalp of West Indies captain Shai Hope (12), who was caught in the slip cordon after playing a wild shot outside the line of the off stump.
Bartlett returned at the death to get the penultimate wicket of West Indies' innings, with Gudakesh Motie falling for three. Abbott and Cameron Green chipped in with two wickets apiece.
West Indies needed a near-perfect showing with the ball if they were to restrict Australia, but that never materialised.
Travis Head, man of the match in Australia's World Cup final win over India in November, fell to Matthew Forde for four in the first over. However, Smith's team followed up their efforts with the ball with an equally dominant display with the bat.
Smith led his team with a run-a-ball 79, with Green (77 not out off 104 balls) and Inglis (65 off 43 balls) also punishing loose bowling by the visitors.
After Head's dismissal, Inglis went on a scathing attack on the Windies bowling – scoring the bulk of the runs in a 79-run stand for the second wicket with Green as he pounced on the opening pair of Forde and Oshane Thomas. Inglis got to his 50 off just 28 balls at the end of the seventh over, and the hosts were well on their way to victory when he was dismissed by Motie in the 12th over, with their score on 83 for two.
The West Indies' bowling left a lot to be desired, and they were often taken to the cleaners for wayward, short-pitched bowling. Forde and Thomas were particularly expensive, returning economy rates of 9.25 and 8 runs per over respectively in their short spells.
Smith struck eight boundaries in his knock, with Green hitting four fours and two sixes to cap off a solid all-round showing. Australia got to the target with a whopping 69 balls to spare when Smith cut a wide ball from Walsh Jr to the third man boundary in the 39th over.
If Hope and his team want to continue the momentum from the Windies' Test win at The Gabba, they will need an improved showing in the second ODI, which bowls off from 11.30 pm (TT time) in Sydney on Saturday.
West Indies 231 all out from 48.4 overs (Keacy Carty 88, Roston Chase 59, Hayden Walsh Jr 20; Xavier Bartlett 4-17, Cameron Green 2-40, Sean Abbott 2-42) vs AUSTRALIA 232 for 2 from 38.3 overs (Steve Smith 79 not out, Cameron Green 77 not out, Josh Inglis 65; Matthew Forde 1-37, Gudakesh Motie 1-58).