Three in a row

Darren Bravo made a classy 86 but was overshadowed by Shane Watson.
Darren Bravo made a classy 86 but was overshadowed by Shane Watson.

CANBERRA – Shane Watson hit a century on his return from injury and James Faulkner claimed four wickets as Australia beat the West Indies by 39 runs to take an unassailable 3-0 lead in the five-match One-Day International series at the Manuka Oval today.†

Watson, opening the innings after four weeks out with a calf injury, smashed 122 off 111 balls. Supported by 86 from Phil Hughes, he helped Australia reach 329 for seven after the Aussies won the toss.

The home side then dismissed the West Indies for 290 off 47.3 overs with left-arm medium pacer Faulkner claiming four for 48 – all bowled – to achieve another emphatic victory after wins by nine wickets and 54 runs in Perth.

Watson reached his seventh ODI century off 102 balls and then set about Kemar Roach, clubbing a huge six – logged at 114 metres (374 feet) – into the stands. This was followed by a four as he threatened to go on for a bigger ton on the batsman-friendly pitch.

But two balls later Watson holed out to Kieron Pollard, one of four catches to the athletic West Indian, top-edging to deep backward square leg as he went after Roach’s second-last ball of his eighth over.

It was a welcome return to form for Watson before this month’s four-Test tour to India.

“I’ve been looking forward to that for the last four weeks, to get out there on a nice wicket and get a few runs out of the middle,” Watson said.

“It’s one of those days that you dream of that everything even from the first ball just feels like it’s coming off the middle of your bat.

“It was a beautiful wicket out there, it was very true, so you knew if you hit through the line of the ball you had more chance of finding the middle of the bat.”

Hughes, who gave away a chance cutting through slip on six, lost the opportunity to make his third ODI century this season when he was caught behind off Darren Sammy for 86.

He scored his runs off 93 balls with 10 fours and a six.

The West Indies would have had to make history to overhaul the Australian total, with their biggest previous ODI run chase 324 for eight against India at Nagpur in 2006-07.

Devon Thomas, who opened the innings in place of Chris Gayle who had been off the field with a side strain, and Kieran Powell, both played some handsome strokes to reach 50 inside nine overs. However Thomas’ (19) stay was ended when he miscued Clint McKay.

Powell (47) threatened a more lasting stay before he too failed to find the middle of the bat, top edging a sweep at Glenn Maxwell that was held in agile fashion by Matthew Wade, running around from behind the stumps.

Brothers Darren and Dwayne Bravo gave the West Indies a much needed repair job with a fighting 114-run partnership for the third wicket before Mitchell Starc bowled Dwayne Bravo middle stump for 51 off 50 balls.

The wickets then began to tumble, with Faulkner claiming two of them in his sixth over. He bowled the struggling Chris Gayle for two with the first ball after drinks, and was given a warning by the umpire for his over-zealous sending off of the batsman, before removing the dangerous Darren Bravo three balls later.

Faulkner bowled him for 86 off 96 balls to put the skids under the West Indians. He finished with two more wickets, clean-bowling spinner Sunil Narine (1) and skipper Sammy (8) to wrap up the Australian victory.

Ramnaresh Sarwan, whose batting has been almost embarrassing to watch in the series, provided Mitchell Johnson with his only wicket when he breached the Guyanese right-hander’s defence for 12.

Andre Russell kept the West Indies in the hunt with a belligerent 31-ball 43 with six boundaries and one six. But when the athletic Jamaican was eighth out with the score on 281, it spelt the end of West Indies’ victory chase.

Pollard, who was run out for nine by Johnson, earlier put in a sensational performance in the field with two stupendous catches on the boundary ropes.

Glenn Maxwell was left shaking his head when he was out to a brilliant one-handed catch for four by a leaping Pollard on the boundary as he looked to smash spinner Narine for six.

Pollard then plucked another near-replica one-handed leaping catch on the rope to end George Bailey’s cameo of 44 off 22 balls and give Narine his second wicket.

West Indies’ decision to drop Jason Holder was a peculiar one as it shortened their bowling options as the lanky Barbadian has been impressive in the previous two ODIs. With Australia’s mammoth total, on reflection it might have been better to retain Holder at the expense of Sarwan who has contributed nothing in three outings.

The series moves to Sydney for the fourth ODI on Friday before the fifth and final match in Melbourne on Sunday.††

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