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Coulter-Nile, Starc fend off West Indies attack

On a day when pace bowlers called the shots, half-centuries for Steve Smith and Nathan Coulter-Nile, and a five-wicket haul for Mitchell Starc saw Australia defend their score of 288 for a 15-run win against West Indies in ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2019.

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Choosing to bowl, West Indies – just as they had done against Pakistan – attacked with the short ball. The relatively inexperienced attack didn't always have control, but they had pace and were winning the mind games when they had Australia reduced to 38/4, then 79/5. 

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Oshane Thomas overcame a wayward start to have Aaron Finch feather behind to a peach in the third over, while Sheldon Cottrell brought out the salute as David Warner offered an easy catch at point in the following over. Andre Russell set Usman Khawaja up with a short-pitched barrage before getting him caught behind off a full and wide delivery, while Glenn Maxwell fell trying to hook another short one from Cottrell.

Smith, dropped on 26 in the deep, and Alex Carey brought much-needed stability to the innings. But it was Coulter-Nile who really took the bowling on. Almost always scoring at better than a run a ball, he was the aggressor as Smith played anchor. He quickly caught up with the former captain, the pair of them bringing up half-centuries. 

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It took a remarkable catch in the deep to break their partnership of 102, with Cottrell pulling off a stunner at the ropes at deep backward-square to send back Smith. Coulter-Nile (92) was denied a hundred, but he'd done his job in a fantastic recovery for Australia. 

Starc and Pat Cummins continued the pace examination, with West Indies this time at a receiving end. Chris Gayle reached 1000 World Cup runs and survived two reviews before falling to the third, but with the spin of Adam Zampa added to the mix, the West Indies found themselves somewhat on the back-foot at 99/3.

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Hope took the patient route, but with Nicholas Pooran, Shimron Hetmyer and then Jason Holder soaking up the pressure, he could take his time. Hope was disconsolate upon a tame dismissal for a 106-ball 68, just when he was discovering his timing. 

It was left to Holder, who made a fifty, and Carlos Brathwaite to knock off the runs, but with Starc finding accuracy with the old ball as well, they fell short.

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