Starc bowls Australia to victory
Starc bowls Australia to victory
Set 267 to win after Bailey’s unbeaten 125 rescued the Australian innings, the West Indies were cruising at 159 for three in the run chase, before the return of Starc to the attack turned the match again as the tourists were bowled out 212 in the 39th over.
Starc (5-32) had claimed the first three wickets in the West Indian innings, all lbw, to have them reeling at 33 for three, but when he came back into the attack the Australians were struggling, with opener Kieran Powell and Dwayne Bravo putting on a century partnership for the fourth wicket.
However, the left-armer, who took 5-20 as the Australians routed the West Indies for 70 in Friday’s opening game en route to a nine-wicket victory, struck two more telling blows.
After spinner Glenn Maxwell ended the Powell and Bravo partnership at 126 runs by having the latter caught behind for 45, Starc removed Powell, adjudged lbw for 83 on a decision review and Devon Thomas (0) in successive balls to claim his second five-wicket haul in as many matches.
Thomas was given out in quite bizarre circumstances, with umpire Nigel Llong giving the batsman not out on a caught behind appeal, but third umpire Asad Rauf reversing the decision despite the apparent lack of any evidence at all to suggest the West Indian hit the ball.
When Darren Sammy fell for eight a short time later, the West Indies had lost 5-20 and slumped to 179 for eight.
Sunil Narine (24) briefly lifted West Indian hopes when he belted four sixes in a row off Maxwell (4-63), before being stumped from the last ball of the same over.
Earlier, brilliant catching by the West Indies had Australia in deep trouble at 98 for six, before Bailey steered a spirited fightback that saw the home team make 266 for seven from their 50 overs.
Bailey, who described Starc as an “extraordinary talent,” said Australia’s total exceeded even their own expectations after the poor start.
“When James (Faulkner) came out we thinking let’s get it to 200,” he said.
“To end up with more than 260 was a bonus.”
Bailey reached his century by blasting Kemar Roach over mid-wicket for six in the 49th over.
He then finished the innings in style, hitting three sixes in the final over from Bravo as the Australians plundered 25 runs.
Bailey hit 30 runs from the last six balls he faced in the innings, facing 110 deliveries overall and hitting 10 fours and four sixes.
Having had the Australians under pressure with both bat and ball, Powell was pleased with the improved performance, but said the West Indies didn’t make the most of their efforts.
“We didn’t take the opportunities we had,” he said.
“But there are lessons to be learned and lots of positives.”
What now for Saudi Arabia’s big four teams?
- Al-Hilal won their 15th top-flight title this season.
- Big summer for Saudi Arabia football with the Green Falcons at the World Cup.
Now the Saudi Professional League season is over for another year Arab News can look back at their title tilts and what the big four clubs have to do over the coming months ahead of the next season.
Coaching situation: Ramon Diaz was in charge for much of the season, but was fired in February after setbacks in the Champions League.
Assistant Juan Brown did Okay in the final stretch, but a top-class coach could get more out of this team.
Squad priorities: A reliable goalscorer to support Omar Khribin and with veteran defender Osama Hawsawi leaving for pastures new, a replacement center-back with leadership qualities. Welcoming back the major stars — Carlos Eduardo, Khribin, Nawaf Al-Abed and Salem Al -Dawsari — will be a major boost.
Aim next season: Win the AFC Champions League
Coaching situation: Sergiy Rebrov is out of contract at the end of June. His future is likely to depend on how the team fares against Al-Sadd in the second round of the AFC Champions League in May.
Squad priorities: There is not much wrong. The Jeddah giants were the highest scorers in the league last season and had the second best defense. Keeping star midfielder Leonardo fit will help as will a little cover in the center of defense. Star striker Omar Al-Somah fell out with the coach in a public way in the penultimate game of the season. It may be that one of them has to go. The Syrian has been player of the year for three years and has a longer contract than Rebrov.
Aim next season: Win the league. Maintain good performances in Asia.
Coaching situation: Krunoslav Jurcic arrived in January and the former Croatian national team boss produced an upswing in results. May just be a temporary appointment and it needs to be sorted quickly.
Squad priorities: Looks good with the Saudi Arabia national team keeper, a strong center-back pairing of Omar Hawsawi and Bruno Uvini and the full-back position seemingly sorted with the January signing of Saad Suhail. They probably need a defensive midfielder and have to keep Junior Kabananga. The DR Congo striker has shown enough in his few weeks at the club to suggest that he could be a real star next season, especially with Leonardo pulling the strings behind him.
Aim next season: A genuine title challenge and getting through the play-offs into the 2019 AFC Champions League.
Coaching situation: A bottom half finish is unacceptable for a team with Al-Itithad’s stature and history. Chilean coach Jose Luis Sierra may find that winning domestic cups is no substitute for challenging for the title.
Squad priorities: There is too much reliance on players such as Carlos Villanueva, a creative spark in the team, and Fahad Al-Ansari, the midfield engine, who are the wrong side of 30. The possible return of star winger Fahad Al-Muwallad will help, but an introduction of energy is needed.
Aim next season: Top three and, if the team wins the King’s Cup, a good showing in the 2019 AFC Champions League.