NOTTINGHAM – Nathan Coulter-Nile hit 92, the highest score by a No 8 batsman in World Cup history, as champions Australia staged a remarkable rally against the West Indies at Trent Bridge on Thursday.
Australia were in dire straits at 38/4, following an aggressive start by the West Indies’ quicks.
But they finished on 288 all out after former captain Steve Smith (73), who put on 102 for the seventh wicket with Coulter-Nile, began the repair job.
“It was the sort of wicket where you have to take your time and get used to the bounce. Some balls seemed to rear up and the short balls felt really quick.
“I don’t know if it’s the pitch or their bowlers,” said Coulter-Nile, who was dropped on 61 by Shimron Hetmyer.
The West Indies had bounced out Pakistan for just 105 when winning their tournament opener at Nottinghamshire’s headquarters last week and adopted similar tactics after captain Jason Holder won the toss on a sunny day.
Oshane Thomas struck first when Australia captain Aaron Finch (six) was caught behind off a lifting delivery.
David Warner (three) was then caught at backward point off Sheldon Cottrell that saw the left-arm quick – still a member of the Jamaica Defence Force – celebrate with his trademark salute.
Australia were now 21/2, with boos ringing out as Warner walked off and Smith walked on – a now familiar response by crowds in England to the pair, having only recently returned from year-long bans for their part in a ball-tampering scandal in South Africa.
Usman Khawaja was twice hit on the body on Thursday before an edge off Andre Russell was brilliantly caught one-handed by diving wicket-keeper Shai Hope.
Australia’s 36/3 was quickly transformed into 38/4 when Glenn Maxwell was out for a second-ball duck, a top-edged skied hook off a Cottrell bouncer comfortably held by Hope.
Left-hander Alex Carey (45) gave Smith some sound support in a stand of 68 before he was caught behind off Russell.
Smith had a lucky break on 26, when he top-edged a hook off West Indies captain Jason Holder, only for Cottrell at long leg to slip and fall over as he eyed a catch.
His patient innings ended when he flicked Thomas high towards deep backward square only for Cottrell, skirting the boundary, to grab the ball one-handed, throw it back into the field of play as he stepped over the rope – thereby avoiding a six – and complete a sensational catch without touching the rope.
But Coulter-Nile cashed in as he surpassed his previous international best of 34.
His blistering assault off 60 balls featuring eight fours and four sixes also saw him beat former Zimbabwe international Heath Streak’s previous World Cup best by a No 8 of 72.
But in sight of the all-time one-day international high score by a No 8 – 95 not out by England’s Chris Woakes – he drove Carlos Brathwaite to Holder at long-off.