Mitchell Starc continued his remarkable Cricket World Cup record as Australia fought back superbly to defeat West Indies by 15 runs in a thoroughly entertaining affair at Trent Bridge.

The left-arm quick averaged 11 in the competition before Thursday's clash in Nottingham, and his 5-46 improved on that further as he ripped out the Windies' lower order just when it seemed Jason Holder's men were set for a successful chase of 289.

Australia's 288 all out represented an impressive recovery from 38-4, West Indies using the same short-ball tactics that routed Pakistan to good effect once again as four of the top five failed to fire.

Steve Smith was the exception, his patient 73 allowing Alex Carey to up the tempo with 45 before Nathan Coulter-Nile came in and blasted 92 off 60 deliveries – his highest ODI score and the best of any number eight in World Cups.

Shai Hope (68 off 105) played an anchor role similar to that of Smith, while Nicholas Pooran made a more fluent 40 before Holder's half-century looked set to become the match-winning knock.

But when the skipper departed to Starc for 51, he left the tail needing 37 from four overs. Starc then cleaned up Sheldon Cottrell to claim the first five-wicket haul of the tournament as Australia made it two wins from two.

 

 

 

Nathan Coulter-Nile fell eight short of a maiden ODI century as he and Steve Smith inspired Australia's fightback to 288 all out against West Indies at Trent Bridge.

Both sides won their Cricket World Cup openers in straightforward fashion but the Australia batsmen were anything but comfortable in the face of an early barrage of short-pitched bowling, falling to 79-5.

However, Smith (73) combined for a patient stand of 68 alongside Alex Carey, whose dismissal for 45 brought Coulter-Nile to the crease at number eight.

Boasting a previous high score of 34 in ODIs, Coulter-Nile crashed eight fours and four sixes in his 60-ball 92, dominating a century partnership with Smith, who perished in the 45th over to a stunning grab from Sheldon Cottrell.

The left-arm quick, running at full tilt around the boundary, stuck out a big left hand to grab the ball, tossing it in the air as his momentum took him over the ropes before returning to the field to complete an effort that will rival Ben Stokes' for England against South Africa as the catch of the tournament.

Unfortunately for Coulter-Nile, he fell with 10 balls of the innings remaining, holing out to long-off, but his work was done with Australia firmly back in contention.

West Indies captain Jason Holder said Australia insists that his team is not being too caught up with their match against Australia on Thursday. Individual players have been throwing barbs in the build-up to the highly anticipated match.

Jason Holder has backed his West Indies attack to bounce their way to World Cup success.

The captain will lead his side out to face Australia on Thursday with the instruction to make their short balls count and target any signs of twitchiness.

West Indies teams from previous eras have thrived as masters of the bouncer.

And with two such deliveries allowed in every over of ODI matches, their modern-day pacemen could hold the key to success over the six-week tournament in England.

Pakistan had little answer to the West Indies attack last Friday, being rolled over for a dismal 105 total, and that gave Holder cause for encouragement.

"If it's a situation where we feel a batsman may be susceptible to the short ball, then we're going to use it," Holder said.

"If it's a situation where that's not the case, then we'll find other alternatives. It's just not stuck on the short ball.

"I think all the teams so far have used the short ball, and it's just something that's in the game. You've got two short balls per over; you might as well use them."

Few sides exploit the short ball better than Holder's West Indies, which is among the reasons they are rated by bookmakers among the trophy favourites.

Chris Gayle and Andre Russell are both expected to be fit for the Australia match after minor injury worries.

And Holder has said the Windies batsmen should "show intent and be fearless" against an Australian attack who can also be counted on to unleash a barrage of bouncers.

With the World Cup still in its early stages, Holder is reluctant to add any pressure on to his players.

"We've got a hurdle to overcome. I think when we overcome that hurdle, then we'll move deeper into the tournament," he said.

"But I just don't want to single out teams particularly. I think all teams are evenly matched and well-balanced, so it's just a matter of playing good cricket on any given day. That's our rule. We want to execute in all three departments."

Aaron Finch vowed Australia would "take the contest" to Chris Gayle and look to unsettle the destructive West Indies opener in Thursday's Cricket World Cup clash.

The Trent Bridge tussle could suit Gayle, with a short boundary sure to be attacked by the 39-year-old whose career lacks one notable statistic: an ODI century against Australia.

Nottinghamshire's home is the venue at which Australia conceded a world-record score to England last June, tortured by Jonny Bairstow and Alex Hales.

And if Gayle finds his range early in the West Indies innings, then captain Finch knows Australia could find themselves in trouble.

With that in mind, Australia have formulated plans to stifle Gayle, who plundered 424 runs in four ODIs against England earlier this year.

"When you come up against someone as dangerous as Chris, you have to be prepared that he's going to hit boundaries," Finch said. "So it's about trying to attack his weaknesses early and making sure that we're putting the ball in the areas that we want to be bowling.

"If you second-guess yourself, if you're a bit tentative, if you're a bit nervous with the ball in hand, he'll get all over you, and once he's going, he's so hard to stop.

"So I think it's important that you come prepared to take the contest to him because he definitely does that the other way."

Gayle has an ODI highest score of 92 against Australia, and he would love to crack on to three figures this time.

Australia are mindful he has not always been fully fit when facing them, and that could again be the case this time as Gayle contends with a back niggle.

But Australia will back themselves against any batting line-up, even at venues with a history of high-scoring contests such as Trent Bridge.

"I think if you're executing your best ball over and over and they're playing good shots in our percentages, then you have to wear that," Finch said.

"We know how fast the outfields are here in England. We know how flat wickets can be at times, so you have to be prepared to suck up some pressure and soak up a few boundaries here and there.

"If it's poor execution or a poor plan on my behalf, then it's something to reassess at the end of the game."

Australia will look to right the wrongs of their last visit to Trent Bridge when they face West Indies in the Cricket World Cup.

Justin Langer's men were subjected to a humiliating 242-run thrashing in Nottingham 12 months ago as England racked up a record ODI total of 481-6.

However, a much-changed Australia line-up - set to feature only three of the players involved in that game - will be confident of ensuring a different outcome on Thursday.

The Windies began their campaign in style at Trent Bridge last Friday, thrashing Pakistan by seven wickets, but they can expect to face a sterner test against opponents boosted by the returns of David Warner and Steve Smith.

Warner made 89 as Australia kicked off the defence of their title with a routine seven-wicket win over Afghanistan.

The five-time world champions are set to be unchanged from that encounter, while the Windies are hopeful Andre Russell - a star performer with the ball against Pakistan - will be fit to retain his place after a recurring knee problem flared up. Chris Gayle is also set to feature again despite suffering back pain in the opener.

 

TOURNAMENT SO FAR

The Windies were emphatic winners over Pakistan, who crumbled to 105 all out in the face of a barrage of short balls.

Australia limited Afghanistan to 207 in Bristol, before cruising home on the back of Warner's innings and a fluent 66 from skipper Aaron Finch.

 

WHAT THEY SAID

Windies captain Jason Holder: "If it's a situation where we feel a batsman may be susceptible to the short ball, then we're going to use it. If it's a situation where that's not the case, then we'll find other alternatives."

Finch: "I think if we are tentative and if we are a bit standoffish and wait for things to happen, that's when they can dominate you from the start. It's important that you turn up with the right attitude and the right intent in the first 10 overs, bat or ball."

 

OPTA FACTS

- Australia have won nine of their last 10 ODIs against West Indies, although the teams have not met in this format since 2016.

- After winning their first four World Cup matches versus Australia, the Windies have been beaten in four of the subsequent five meetings between the sides in this tournament.

- Gayle has scored at least a half-century in six successive ODIs. Only one man, Javed Miandad, has ever put together a longer run (nine).

- Mitchell Starc is four wickets away from becoming only the 10th bowler to pick up 150 scalps for Australia. He has claimed 23 wickets in World Cup matches at an average of just 11.

Former Australia batsman Steve Waugh has cautioned his compatriots that the West Indies have the batting power to completely take a game away, ahead of a showdown between the teams at the ICC Cricket World Cup on Thursday.

Both teams showed plenty of firepower with convincing wins in their opening encounters.  After dismissing Afghanistan for 207, the Aussies cruised to a 7-wicket win on the back of 89 from David Warner. 

The Windies were ruthless against Pakistan as steep deliveries precipitated their opponent’s hasty dismissal for 105.  The Caribbean team then cruised to 108, losing three wickets in the process.  Waugh believes Thursday’s encounter will be a big test for both.

"The Windies will provide a realistic gauge on how the team are tracking, for they possess a squad full of match-winners that can dominate if they gain any sense of ascendancy in a match,” Waugh told the ICC.

‘They are the most watchable team in the tournament with a batting line-up that can kidnap any bowling attack with brute force," Waugh added.

“No ground is big enough when this behemoth of a batting order clicks into overdrive but they also have a vulnerability against high-quality bowling as they tend to play one dimensional at times,” he said.

 “For the first time in a long while they have fast-bowling depth vindicated by Friday’s win against Pakistan without their finest in Kemar Roach and Shannon Gabriel.

“Their Achilles heel, however, will be their lack of mobility in the field and this is where Australia can influence the outcome.

Every side in this tournament will be wary of playing the Windies and I wouldn’t want to face them in a knockout match.”

 

Australia head coach Justin Langer has backed his team to put last year's Trent Bridge nightmare behind them as they prepare to tackle West Indies in Nottingham this week.

England dealt Australia a humiliating defeat on June 19, 2018, when the hosts racked up an ODI record score of 481 for six.

Jonny Bairstow and Alex Hales bludgeoned the tourists' attack for hefty centuries on that occasion, and Andrew Tye's nine overs cost 100 runs as England set the platform for a 242-run trouncing.

Langer did not dodge the question when asked whether he was feeling any sense of post-traumatic stress disorder on the return to the home of Nottinghamshire, for Thursday's Cricket World Cup clash.

"[We have] had some really good times here at Trent Bridge and last year was a down ..." he said.

"I remember we turned up and ... the spirits were pretty high. That was unbelievable.

"I remember walking down to the gate at the end almost wanting to give all the boys a hug because it was brutal. No doubt about that."

Langer said there had been no question of him scolding his team after that match, adding: "The last thing I needed was another smack when I'd been smacked for three and a half hours."

Australia's line-up will be almost unrecognisable from the side that took that beating, and Langer said: "We're better equipped for it."

World Cup hosts England faltered at the same stadium on Monday, when losing to Pakistan in their second group match, and any lingering Australian scars from their last trip to Nottingham will surely heal fully if they can fend off West Indies.

Mesmerising opener Chris Gayle poses the obvious threat in the West Indies ranks, as Langer acknowledged on Tuesday.

"One thing we know about the West Indies, and particularly with Andre Russell and Chris Gayle back in, it's going to be exciting cricket, isn't it?" Langer said.

"When I was a kid it was calypso cricket, and I think we're seeing plenty of signs of calypso cricket. Running and bowling fast."

Gayle can be every bit as destructive, if not more so, than the England batsmen who took Australia to the cleaners 12 months ago.

"He's been a brilliant player for a long time. Dangerous, we all know that," Langer said. "Like he'll have his plans against our bowlers; we'll have our plans against him as well.

"We know he's dangerous. They've got a number of dangerous players. With him on the team they seemed to grow a leg. They take confidence from him. Hopefully they don't take too much confidence on Thursday."

Former legendary Windies captain Clive Lloyd has earmarked the Australia fixture as a crucial touchstone for the regional squad, following an impressive start to the ICC Cricket World Cup.

The Caribbean team blew Pakistan out of the water in their opening fixture, using pace and bounce to unsettle the South-Asian squad, who were dismissed for 105, before casually cruising to the total.  Facing the Australians, who boast an equal amount of firepower in both the pace bowling and batting departing, could be a very different prospect.  The Aussie, who hammered Bangladesh in their opener, will face the Windies at Trent Bridge on Thursday.

 “We just need to see what happens when the pressure is on the West Indies, but the game against Australia should do that as that will be a good test of where we are at,”

“Australia have got some firepower and some very good batsmen, so that should be an excellent game. That will give you an idea if West Indies can qualify or not,” he added.

“It’s going to be a good test and I also want to see the game against England, that too is going to be quite the contest. England have some real firepower and variety too.

“The next week or so is going to be very exciting for this competition. From what I’ve seen so far, though, I think the West Indies do possess enough to qualify for the last four.”

Windies all-rounder Andre Russell is confident he will be fit and ready to face Australia, in the team’s second match of the ICC Cricket World Cup, on Thursday.

The 31-year-old Russell had an impressive cameo in the opening match for the Windies, who registered a convincing 7-wicket win over Pakistan.  The player, who was brought into the team mainly for his batting, was deadly with the ball in the opener as a barrage of short-pitched deliveries earned him figures of 2 for 4 in three overs.

The player who has, however, been plagued by knee injuries throughout his career, left hearts in mouths after seeming to develop a problem in the closing stages of the Pakistan innings.  The player seemed to have sustained the damage while stooping for the ball in the deep and toppled over the boundary to receive treatment.  Russell though remains confident his medical team can handle the issues ahead of the early blockbuster match-up.

"I've been playing for years with these knee injuries," Russell said after the match. "And sometimes it feels worse than some days but, at the end of the day, I'm a professional. I know what to do to get back. I think I have five days before the next game so that is more than enough time to get my knee back to normal and get it settled.

"Let's just see what happens. I have a good physio team, massage team, here so they're going to be working with me closely for the next couple of days."

 

Australia pace bowler Nathan Coulter-Nile has warned the Windies that the team is prepared to fight fire with fire when they square off in their next fixture of the ICC Cricket World Cup on Thursday.

Short-pitched deliveries by fast bowlers of both teams played a critical role in convincing opening fixture wins.  The speed team of Coulter-Nile, Mitchell Starc and Patrick Cummings proved much too strong for Afghanistan, who they went on to dismiss for 207, before claiming a comfortable 7-wicket win. 

Pakistan found short-pitched deliveries from Jason Holder, O’shane Thomas and Andre Russell impossible to deal with, as they were dismissed for 105 before the Windies also cruised to a 7-wicket win.

Neither side will change the approach headed into their second encounter and Coulter-Nile is already cautioning the Windies to be ready to face the chin music.

“You’ve got to give it (bouncers) to the Windies, otherwise they just get on the front foot and pogo you everywhere,” the 31-year-old told reporters.

“We’ll definitely give it to them, we give it to every team. You’ve got to use your two (permitted bouncers per over).

“The grounds are so small and the wickets are generally pretty flat, so you’ve got to use bouncers when you can.”

Another concern for the Australians, ahead of the match, is the form Windies opener Chris  Gayle, who cracked a 34 ball 50 in the first match.  Coulter-Nile believes aggression and pace will also be key in neutralising the Windies’ main threat up top.

“Oh, Starcy (Mitchell Starc) will knock his off pole out. It will be easy,” he said jokingly about the 39-year-old Gayle.

“You know he’s going to hit your good balls for four and hit your bad balls for six. Just keep as bowling as many good balls as you can we’ll stick a few up him.

“I think you just need to be aggressive at him. He’s still smacking them but he is getting older. I don’t know if he’s faced too much of Starcy and Paddy (Pat Cummins) recently but they’re bowling quick. So we’ll see how he handles that early,” Coulter-Nile added.

Ian Bell believes England have their biggest chance in years to win the Cricket World Cup, though they may need a bit of luck to secure the trophy.

England started the tournament on home soil as favourites and lived up to that billing with a 104-run thrashing of South Africa at The Oval in the opening game on Thursday.

Batsman Bell, who played 161 ODIs for England and is still hungry for a Test recall, thinks Eoin Morgan's entertainers will take some stopping.

He told Omnisport: "I have England as favourites and it's the best chance we've had for a long time with the squad we've got.

"There are other teams who are obviously very dangerous but it could be the best summer of all time for England.

"They will need a bit of luck and to play some really good cricket as they have for the last few years, but there is no doubt there is a great opportunity to win a first World Cup."

Bell believes India may be the biggest threat to England's bid for glory, while Australia's resources in the bowling department makes them a team to watch.

"You can't go far away from India, their squad of players seems to be so strong and I think they enjoy playing white-ball cricket in England." he added.

"A lof of the teams will enjoy the conditions, it's not like they are having to deal with a swinging, seaming ball. Pitches will turn as the tournament goes on and that can help India, I expect them to be there and thereabouts.

"Australia with their bowling and attack and [Steve] Smith and [David] Warner back in the ranks are obviously even more dangerous. You could make a strong case for a lot of sides, there is so much talent on show."

After more than a year away from international cricket, David Warner enjoyed a dream return as he ushered Australia to a routine seven-wicket win over Afghanistan in their Cricket World Cup opener. 

Australia's Usman Khawaja has been sent for scans on his jaw after being struck on the helmet by a bouncer during a Cricket World Cup warm-up against West Indies.

The top-order batsman had just five runs to his name when he was forced to retire hurt.

Khawaja was struck by a delivery from Andre Russell during the second over of Australia's run chase in Southampton.

He is not expected to play any further part in the match.

Australia begin their World Cup campaign against Afghanistan on June 1 at Bristol.

They have further warm-ups with hosts England and Sri Lanka prior to beginning the defence of the title they won when co-hosting in 2015.

Brian Lara made 375 to break the record for most runs in a Test innings 25 years ago - and his unbeaten 400 a decade on remains the highest score today. 

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