Australia vs West Indies
Australia vs West Indies at Manuka Oval. Photo: Melissa Adams
Australia can switch its focus to the upcoming tour of India after sealing the limited overs series with the West Indies in Canberra on Wednesday night.
Shane Watson's century as a specialist batsman laid the platform for Australia's 39-run victory to secure an unassailable 3-0 lead in the best-of-five series.
While it makes for a promoter's nightmare for the final two games in Sydney and Melbourne, Australia can take plenty of confidence knowing its key all-rounder is another step back to his blistering best.
Watson looked in sublime touch opening the batting, making a sterling 122 from just 111 balls and showing no sign of the calf injury sustained in the Boxing Day Test.
‘‘The last couple of weeks with my comeback in grade cricket and NSW didn’t work out to plan, so to be able to bat out there on a beautiful wicket helped my confidence once I got a few out of the middle,’’ Watson said.
“Getting out last Sunday, I was starting to worry a little bit that I might not have enough form going into the Indian series, but it was nice to spend some time in the middle. You don’t bat for a while and you feel like you’ve lost it, so it’s nice to feel like you’ve got it still.’’
Another half-century from the in-form Phil Hughes (86) and a quick-fire 44 from 22 balls from George Bailey helped Australia reach 7-329, an imposing total on most grounds but not far above par on the flat Manuka Oval surface.
That proved the case as the sell-out crowd of 11,548 were treated to a cracker of a game fitting of the inaugural visit of the Australian team.
Tasmanian all-rounder James Faulkner was the standout with the ball with 4-48 as the West Indies were bowled out for 290 in the 48th over.
The Windies showed fight sadly lacking in the opening two games of the series in Perth as they endeavoured to make a contest of the historic match, organised as part of Canberra's centenary celebrations.
The Bravo brothers - Darren and Dwayne - combined for a 114-run partnership for the third wicket to give the Windies hope of chasing down the target.
Dwayne Bravo had his stumps shattered by Mitchell Starc for 51, bringing Chris Gayle to the wicket after being forced to bat down the order after missing 73 minutes in the field with a side strain.
Yet the change didn't halt the master blaster's form slump, his dismissal for two making it a paltry 10 runs for the series.
Faulkner continued his impressive introduction to the Australian one-day team, knocking over Gayle and Darren Bravo (86 off 96 balls) in the same over to swing the momentum firmly in the home team's favour.
Faulkner gave Gayle a passionate send-off as the young Tasmanian continues to firm as a valuable piece of the puzzle for the 2015 World Cup.
Kieron Pollard, buoyed from taking an amazing one-handed catch to remove Glenn Maxwell which will be a massive hit on YouTube, was ready to launch only for Mitchell Johnson to perform a sharp piece of fielding of his own.
The left-arm quick picked up the ball on his follow through and threw down the stumps to leave Pollard short of his ground.
Yet the Windies continued to stay in touch courtesy of the big-hitting Andre Russell, who smashed 43 from 31 balls before falling to a clever Clint McKay slower ball.
Faulkner cleaned up the tail in brutal fashion, bowling both Sunil Narine and Darren Sammy to end the brave chase.
Darren Bravo said the game was one that got away.
“I thought [my brother and I] had a decent partnership, but I thought the guys showed great character ... we gave a great account of ourselves and we should keep our heads high,’’ he said.