Coulter-Nile, Smith rescues Australia in 288 vs West Indies

NOTTINGHAM, England (AP) — Stuttering at 38-4 and getting roughed up by West Indies’ pacemen at the Cricket World Cup, Australia was facing yet another painful Trent Bridge experience.

Nathan Coulter-Nile and Mitchell Starc came to the rescue.

Coulter-Nile stroked a career-best 92 off 60 balls — the highest score by a batsman at No. 8 or lower in the tournament’s history — to help lift the Australians from a perilous position of 38-4 to 288 all out. Starc then snared the first five-wicket haul of this World Cup to seal a 15-run win for the defending champions.

Starc had 5-46, including a late burst of 4-2 in 11 balls across two spells, as West Indies was restricted to 273-9 despite half-centuries by Shai Hope (68) and captain Jason Holder (51).

Australia made it two wins from two matches, after a seven-wicket win over Afghanistan, to join New Zealand on four points. It was the Windies’ first loss.

The victory enabled the Australians to exorcise some awful memories at the Nottingham venue, having conceded an one-day international world-record 481 here to England last year and also been knocked over for 60 in a test match innings in 2015.

Coulter-Nile’s salvo came out of nowhere, his previous best ODI score being 34. Indeed, he had only reached double-figures five times in his 28 previous ODIs and his highest first-class score in any format was 74.

“The only time I looked up and thought ‘jeez’ was when I was on about 90,” said Coulter-Nile, who revealed he broke his bat during his innings.

He dominated the partnership of 102 runs with Steve Smith, who was much the steadier in his 103-ball 73, and hit four lusty sixes as well as eight boundaries.

Smith, who was lightly booed onto and off the field for his part in the Australian ball-tampering scandal of last year in South Africa, anchored Australia’s recovery from 38-4 and 79-5. At one stage, Australia seemed set to slump to its lowest total at a World Cup, beating 129 against India at Chelmsford in 1983.

“Definitely missed an opportunity,” West Indies captain Jason Holder said. “It’s a bit disappointing to be losing a game like that when we’re in full control.”

Faced with aggressive and short-pitched bowling, Australia became the first team this tournament to lose four wickets in the opening power play with Sheldon Cottrell standing out for more than one reason. He dismissed David Warner (3) and Glenn Maxwell (0), celebrating his wickets with a military-style salute — a nod to his army background.

The salute came out again toward the end of the innings when he produced a catch that rivals Ben Stokes’ opening-day take on the boundary against South Africa as the best of the tournament. Snaring Smith with a one-handed catch just inside the boundary at deep-backward square leg, Cottrell tossed the ball in the air as he weaved outside and back inside the boundary rope before collecting the ball again.

Wicketkeeper Alex Carey, who shared a 68-run stand with Smith, also weighed in with a crucial 45.

Pacemen accounted for all 10 wickets, just like when West Indies bounced out Pakistan for 105 last week in a seven-wicket win here in Nottingham. They were just as aggressive as six days ago — Oshane Thomas’ roughed up Uswan Khawaja, smacking him in the grille with one ball — but not as precise. They sent down a total of 24 wides, five coming off Thomas’ first ball.

“It was fast, aggressive stuff, up around the nose of the batsman,” Starc said. “It’s not fun to bat against them. I much prefer dishing it out.”

Mainly thanks to Starc, wickets fell regularly in the Windies’ chase — the biggest stand was 68 between Hope and Nicholas Pooran (40). They also had to deal with some poor calls from the umpires, four of which were overturned on review.

Veteran opener Chris Gayle was given two of the reprieves by DRS, both when on 5, before his typically chaotic innings was finally ended by Starc on 21. But not before he passed 1,000 World Cup runs.

“I don’t know if I’ll be fined for saying it but I just think that the umpiring was a bit frustrating,” said Windies allrounder Carlos Brathwaite, who spoke of “dodgy” decisions against Gayle. “It was frustrating and sent ripples through the dressing room.”

Hope, the Windies’ in-form batsman, was defiant more than fluent in reaching his 11th ODI half-century and his departure — when he lofted a slower ball from Pat Cummins to Khawaja at mid-on — left his team on 190-5.

Holder then successfully reviewed two lbw decisions and Andre Russell, the MVP in this year’s IPL, chipped in with an explosive 11-ball 15 that included a 103-meter six.

Starc dismissed both of them, and also took the final two wickets of the innings in a burst that proved just as important as Coulter-Nile’s knock in Australia’s innings.

The left-arm paceman was the player of the tournament at the last World Cup, won by the Australians on home soil.

“Having that experience from four years ago probably plays a part,” he said.