• Australia v West Indies, 3rd ODI, Canberra

Australia seal series after Watson century

The Report by Daniel Brettig
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Australia 329 for 7 (Watson 122, Hughes 86) beat West Indies 290 (Darren Bravo 86, Dwayne Bravo 51, Faulkner 4-48) by 39 runs
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Shane Watson and Aaron Finch walk out to bat in Canberra © Getty Images
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A Shane Watson century, an Australian victory. In the minds of the coach Mickey Arthur and the captain Michael Clarke, such a scenario should occur far more often, and Watson could scarcely have made a better start to life as a non-bowling batsman with a fluent innings to set the platform for a total that proved beyond West Indies in the third ODI at a resplendent Manuka Oval.

The 39-run victory sealed the series for the hosts, but they were as satisfied by the fact that minus the distraction of allround duties, Watson was able to sail to three figures on an amiable pitch. His free-scoring was followed up by a contrasting innings from Phillip Hughes, scratchy early but sublime later, while George Bailey clattered 44 from a mere 22 balls before leaving the field with a tight hamstring in the evening.

Kieron Pollard had leapt outrageously to catch Glenn Maxwell, and the visiting batsmen were set a similarly high mark to win. Their pursuit threatened to amount to something when Darren and Dwayne Bravo joined forces in an attractive stand, but Mitchell Starc broke their union just when Clarke's brow was beginning to furrow, having brought himself on to bowl after leaving out the specialist spin of Xavier Doherty.

Chris Gayle batted down the order due to a side strain suffered in the field, and was to be the first of four victims for James Faulkner, who reprised his strong showing against the tourists on this ground for the Prime Minister's XI to round up the remainder of the innings.

Seeking a record chase for their region, Devon Thomas and Kieran Powell were conservative to begin with but played some handsome strokes to reach 50 inside nine overs, Starc not gaining much swing and becoming a far more hittable bowler as a result. However Thomas' stay was ended when he miscued Clint McKay.

Powell threatened a more lasting stay before he too failed to find the middle of the bat, top edging a sweep at Glenn Maxwell that was held in agile fashion by Matthew Wade, running around from behind the stumps. The Bravo brothers were soon looking comfortable however, and Clarke looked short of options on a slow surface as Maxwell's overs dried up and the visitors engineered a realistic Twenty20 scenario.

Starc's strike was critical, coaxing Dwayne Bravo to play down the wrong line the ball after a wide, and following a drinks break Faulkner disturbed the stumps of Gayle and Darren Bravo with deliveries moving first from the off, then from the leg. Faulkner's send-off for Gayle drew a word from the umpires, and there was to be little need for histrionics as the innings petered out.

Manuka's turf had provided Watson with a chance to play himself into form at the top of the Australian batting order ahead of the Test tour of India, and he was soon in firm touch, punching down the ground and through cover with comfort and also cutting profitably. While the pitch and the opposition were not of the kinds to be faced on the subcontinent, Watson's clarity suggested he may not be seeking a return to the international bowling crease any time soon.

Aaron Finch was similarly crisp, flicking neatly to the midwicket fence more than once, and the runs arrived at pace without either batsman taking many risks. Having made a halting start to his ODI career, Finch looked capable of a major score, but soon after Watson passed 50 he gave his innings away with a dainty dab from Sammy into the gloves of Thomas standing up to the stumps.

The wicket brought a downturn in the run-rate - despite a duo of Darren Sammy no-balls, the first of which was called rather harshly by the umpire Asad Rauf - as Hughes battled to settle in. A little circumspect as he neared his century, Watson reached it confidently then accelerated, swinging lustily for a pair of sixes before he was pouched at deep backward square leg.

Hughes' innings grew steadily in fluency and speed, mirroring Bailey's Perth effort in terms of the skill of building a score from a shaky base. Clarke fell cheaply, but it was a surprise when Hughes edged Sunil Narine behind short of a century, the catch completed by Thomas via thigh as well as glove after the wicketkeeper had earlier been struck a painful blow on the thumb.

Bailey's late hitting ensured the total would go comfortably past 300, and ultimately the West Indies would leave Manuka with only Pollard's catch to console them.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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