Teague Wyllie’s patient 86 not out has guided Australia to a comfortable victory in the opening match of the U19 World Cup, as the Australians chased a modest West Indies total with 31 balls left.
Wyllie used himself from the start and showed an admirable temperament at the fold, hitting eight boundaries in a round that showed experience beyond his 17 years.
After watching many of the Windies players throw their wickets away in a total under par of 169 all out in the 41st over, the right-handed opener was determined to put a price on his wicket and played barely a fake stroke to start his tournament in style.
He formed important partnerships with his skipper Cooper Connolly (23) and all-rounder Nivethan Radhakrishnan (31) along the way, and that pair was also crucial with the ball in a strong team performance in Guyana.
The Windies chose to strike first after winning the throw, but got off to the worst possible start with Queensland fast-forward Tom Whitney finding Matthew Nandu’s edge for wicketkeeper Tobias Snell to take a nice catch low on just the second ball of the match.
Whitney had his second in the fifth over, again caught by other Queenslander Snell, this time after a top edge to pick up Teddy Bishop’s big wicket (5).
And when NSW fast William Salzmann joined the party in the fifth over, capturing Shaqkere Parris lbw for just four, the Windies were 3-12.
The Australians were full of confidence as their opening bowlers set the tone, just as captain Connolly had predicted earlier in the week, but they did not want it all in their own way as Rivaldo Clarke and West Indies captain Ackeem Auguste set about saving the inning. .
The two consolidated to avoid Whitney and Salzmann and had developed their partnership over fifty when spinners Harkirat Bajwa and the ambidextrous Radhakrishnan, who has a Tasmanian Tigers contract, started bowling in tandem.
When Radhakrishnan went to 26 runs after his first three overs and Bajwa was unable to secure a breakthrough, Connolly brought himself into the attack and almost immediately changed the course of the match.
The Windies seemed to be crossing at 3-104 after 21 overs, but three wickets in 14 balls brought all their hard work around.
It was first Radhakrishnan who struck and pulled Clarke (37) into a fake shot to be caught in the middle of the fight before Connolly’s left-arm Orthodox caught the new striker Giovonte Depeiza in front of a duck.
But it was Connolly who picked up his opposing captain Augeste (57) who really turned the match around. The Windies skipper’s attempt to strike the sweep was caught on a deep square leg, with the Aussies realizing the importance of the wicket and celebrating accordingly.
The Windies were unable to form another partnership, but three tasty sixes from the No. 9 debate McKenny Clarke (29 from 35 balls) helped them to 169.
Radhakrishnan finished with 3-48 of his 10 overs, all of his wickets came from his right-arm deliveries, while Connolly also picked up another wicket to finish with an incredible 3-17 of seven.
Whitney took the last wicket to also give himself three for the match, with the Windies throwing out with the best part of 10 overs left.
Wyllie and Sydney’s Corey Miller opened the hunt for Australia, but the Northern Districts fell without scoring as he pulled a wide Johann Layne delivery back on his pieces.
That brought South Australian Cooper Higgins to the fold, who just as he was starting to look comfortable, fell when Shiva Sankar found his edge to nine.
Connolly joined his West Australian counterpart Wyllie out in the middle, full of confidence on the back of his warm-up 117 against India over the course of the week, and the two began to stabilize a shaky start at 2-21.
They put on 53 for the third wicket before Connolly (23) was thrown in an attempt to sweep Onaje Amory.
Radhakrishnan, however, showed their all-round abilities as they came in at five and worked with Wyllie, who rarely looked confused throughout his brilliant stroke as they took advantage of any loose deliveries while respecting some dangerous spin-bowling from the hosts.
They had worked themselves into 20 races after the victory when Radhakrishnan was rejected by Nandu for 31, but the inevitability of an Australian victory was evident in the lack of celebration from the home side.
With still 11 overs left, Wyllie and new batter Campbell Kellaway (10 not out) simply knocked the ball into holes and ticked over the final 20 runs with ease to a six-wickets victory.
Wyllie deserved to bottom out his red ink, playing the perfect innings of the top order in a low-run chase, with his knock characterized by some amazing back-foot shots early from the tempo bowlers and deft touch to show his class over spinners.
Australia next face Sri Lanka on Tuesday morning, in what form it should be a match-up between Group D’s strongest team, after Sri Lanka recorded a 40-run victory over Scotland in their opening match.
That game begins at midnight AEDT and will be streamed via the ICC.tv app.