Australia beat West Indies in thrilling first T20 tuneup before World Cup

Aaron Finch and Matthew Wade revived Australia’s run chase before Mitchell Starc clinched the three-wicket win with a ball to spare on Wednesday in a dramatic last over of the series-opening Twenty20 international against West Indies.

Both teams are using the two-game series to fine-tune for the T20 World Cup. West Indies posted 145 for nine after being sent in to bat and then had Australia at 21 for two in reply when Sheldon Cottrell dismissed David Warner and Mitch Marsh in the second over.

That brought regular opener Finch to the crease at No 4 and he scored 58 runs from 53 balls despite Australia slipping to 58 for five in the eighth over, sharing a 69-run sixth-wicket stand with Wade. When he was out, caught in the outfield trying to hit Alzarri Joseph over midwicket, Australia needed 19 runs off 17 deliveries.

Odean Smith made it more interesting when he bowled Pat Cummins in the penultimate over, leaving Australia requiring 11 off six. Cottrell, who conceded 38 runs in his first three overs, was given the ball for the final over, which started with Wade hitting a boundary.

But Cottrell was unlucky twice not to pick up wickets, with Wade and tStarc dropped in the outfield attempting to hit a winning boundary. Starc got Australian home with one ball remaining.

“Got a little bit close there,” Finch said. “Nice to get across the line in a close one.” Finch said he batted down the order to let all-rounder Cameron Green continue opening but that there were likely to be changes for the second game in Brisbane on Friday as his team prepares to defend their T20 world title.

“We’re going to keep tinkering with things just to make sure we’ve got all the bases covered going into the World Cup,” he said.

West Indies arrived in Australia this week after the completion of Caribbean Premier League and were forced to make a late change to the squad when Shimron Hetmyer missed a scheduled flight and was replaced by Shamarh Brooks.

Seven players in the squad featured in the CPL final last Friday, so the West Indies captain, Nicholas Pooran, said pushing Australia to the last over was a positive sign for a team struggling with travel fatigue. “Definitely tough at the end. We had our chance to win the game … we messed it up,” he said. “Catches win matches. We paid the price again.”

A blazing start from left-handed opener Kyle Mayers, who heaved a six over extra cover and hit five boundaries in his 39, and 27 from Smith against a full-strength Australian bowling attack were good signs for West Indies, although shot selection and impatience were costly.

West Indies will play two warmup games in Melbourne next week before beginning the preliminary round of the T20 World Cup on 17 October against Scotland in Hobart.