The Youngblood of Australian cricket stepped up during a 58-run win against West Indies in Barbados, with skipper Steve Smith proud of the way his young relatively inexperienced squad scrapped in the ODI tri-series final.
Smith and his boys were once gunned down to be 6-173 in the 37th over after Australia won the toss at Kensington Oval.
But Matthew Wade’s unbeaten 57 led the visitors stick to the basic and bat out their overs setting a competitive total of 9-270.
And then came an extraordinary performance from the Aussie bowling unit. The hosts were rolled for 212 in 45.4 overs as Josh Hazlewood cleaned up the tail to scalp a figure of 5-50.
The series decider was in a perfect balance until Mitchell Marsh picked up 3-2 in the period of 12 deliveries, dismissing in-form batsmen Darren Bravo and Marlon Samuels.
Smith, however, after the thrilling encounter acknowledged that the No.1 ODI team in the world had plenty to improve ahead of next year’s Champions Trophy.
“But I was pleased with the way we scrapped,” he added.
“I’m using that word a lot but it’s been a bit of a theme with this series … we haven’t seen many large scores, you’ve had to work hard.
“Wade played beautifully, played with a lot of composure and played good cricket shots.
“He batted with the tail, who stuck around and did a terrific job.”
It was the perfect time to show of leadership skill for Wade, who was under immense pressure to prove his worth after being selected ahead of Test wicketkeeper Peter Nevill.
Wade’s innings was mixed with dogged determination with some dashing strokes as he put up a challenging target with the help of Mitchell Starc, Nathan Coulter-Nile, and Adam Zampa.
Interestingly, it was only the second time Australia added 25-plus runs for each of the seventh, eighth and ninth wickets in an ODI.
“We didn’t have that firepower to finish them off .. it was a bit frustrating,” West Indies captain Jason Holder said.
Mathew Wade was cautious from the very beginning, managed to score one run from 11 deliveries as the Caribbean bowling and local crowd gave him plenty of lip.
The Victorian smashed three sixes to finish as the top scorer of his team and with a strike-rate of 110.
West Indies also didn’t help themselves with some unforgiving errors in the field during the final 10 overs, most notably a simply missed run-out from Denesh Ramdin when Wade was on 29.
Man of the match Marsh finished with figures of 3-32 from 10 overs, having earlier scored 32 and been one of Australia’s top five to fall after making starts.
“He’s come a long way in this series,” Smith said of Marsh, who scored 79no in a virtual semi-final at the same ground last week.
Hazlewood was named the man of the series, having snared 11 scalps this month.
Australia now turns their attention to a Test series in Sri Lanka that starts on July 26.
“Hopefully, we can continue to work hard and keep our rankings at No.1 in one-day and Test cricket,” Smith said.