Smith, Marsh steer Australia to tri-series final despite Samuels heroics
Australia 283-4 (Marsh 79no) beat
West Indies 282-8 (Samuels 125) by six wickets
Eighth Match, West Indies Tri-Series, Barbados
A fluent century from Marlon Samuels went in vain as Steven Smith and Mitchell Marsh played important knocks along with Glenn Maxwell, who played an impressive cameo to take Australia to the final with a six-wicket win over West Indies in the eighth match of the tri-series in Barbados.
Australia won the toss and opted to field first and in the very first over, Mitchell Starc (3-51) had Johnson Charles (0) caught in the slips.
Starc and Josh Hazlewood (1-40) gave very little away at the start with tight bowling and this pressure resulted in Darren Bravo (15) being dismissed by Hazlewood in the eighth over.
Minutes later, Starc accounted for Andre Fletcher (9) to leave West Indies struggling at 36 for three after 10 overs.
In the 16th over, Australia reviewed a caught behind decision against Samuels (125) in vain. Subsequently, Denesh Ramdin (91) and Samuels batted with caution till the 20th over.
Samuels blasted a six and five fours in the next two overs to race away to a 52-ball fifty and at the half-way mark West Indies were placed at 116 for three.
Ramdin, who went past the 2,000-run mark in ODIs, blocked one end while the partnership with Samuels went past the 100-run mark. After being dropped by Matthew Wade in the 29th over, Samuels went past 5,000 ODI runs.
Ramdin eventually completed his eighth ODI fifty in 69 balls and at the end of the 40th over, West Indies were comfortably placed at 199 for three.
Nine runs short of his century, Ramdin was castled by Starc after missing a slog hit in the 43rd over. Soon, Samuels brought up his maiden ODI century against Australia.
Kieron Pollard (20) fell in the 47th while West Indies also lost Carlos Brathwaite (7) and Jason Holder (1) in quick succession. Samuels took West Indies to 282 for eight before falling in the last ball of the innings.
After a blistering start to the chase, Aaron Finch (16) was caught at mid-on in the fifth over. Moments later, Usman Khawaja (17) was also caught behind, giving Shannon Gabriel (1-43) his first ODI wicket, with the score at 35 for two.
With West Indies looking for a breakthrough, Smith (78) and George Bailey (34) dropped anchor and shared 64 runs for the third wicket.
Bailey played at a good pace but threw away his start as he popped a leading edge to cover off Sulieman Benn (1-47) in the 19th over.
At the halfway mark, Australia needed 153 runs with seven wickets in hand. Both Smith and Marsh (79 not out) played at a good pace to thwart the West Indies bowling attack in their 122-run stand for the fourth wicket.
Smith completed a hat-trick of fifties in the tri-series in the 31st over. Marsh was not far behind as he reached his own half-century in the 37th. With 10 overs to go, Australia needed 73 more runs to win.
An attempt to sneak a single ended with Smith being run out in the 42nd over but the game changed with the arrival of Maxwell (46 not out).
After taking a few balls to settle down, Maxwell smashed the bowlers to all parts of the park as Australia scored 39 runs between overs 45 and 47.
This cameo from Maxwell allowed Australia to chase down the target in just 48.4 overs as they secured a six-wicket win to jump to the top of the points table and secure a spot in the final.
For his century, Samuels took home the man-of-the-match award despite ending on the losing team.
© Cricket World 2016