Mitchell Johnson sizzled with an unbeaten 73 as Australia began the defence of their Champions Trophy title with a 50-run win over a fighting second-string West Indies at the New Wanderers Stadium here on Saturday.
Riding on Johnson’s maiden half-century coupled with skipper Ricky Ponting’s brilliant 79, Australia rattled up a challenging 275 for eight after being asked to bat.
Johnson, whose major job is to pick wickets with his fast bowling, came to bat at number eight and with Brett Lee (25) conjured up a crucial partnership of 70-runs for the eighth wicket to lift his team from the pits.
The defending champions then bowled out the West Indies for 225 in 46.5 overs.
Spinner Nathan Hautritz (2/23) Peter Siddle (2/37) and Shane Watson (2/34) snared two wickets each.
Opener Andre Fletcher played a fantastic knock of 54 and Travis Dowlin followed him with an equally impressive 55 to raise hopes of an upset but could not finish off the job for their team.
West Indies, who had to win the match to stay in the tournament, thus have been ousted from the tournament.
Thanks to a contract row between the main players of the Caribbean nation and their Cricket Board, a second string team landed here to compete in the elite eight nation event.
Fletcher and Dowlin put a brave fight with an 86-run stand for the second wicket but their middle-order could not build on the start.
The duo got separated after an unfortunate run out of Fletcher. Skipper Floyd Reifer (28) and Darren Sammy (20) resisted for some time but the effort only narrowed the defeat margin.
Earlier, Johnson’s fiery unbeaten 73-run knock came at a time when Australia were staring at an early fold of their innings after being reduced to 171 for seven.
Johnson came out all guns blazing and struck eight boundaries and three sixes, in just 43 balls to change the complexion of the game.
Australia were cruising at 85 for one, following the first-ball dismissal of Shane Watson, as skipper Ponting and Tim Paine batted beautifully against a depleted Windies side.
However, the Australian middle-order crumbled when their partnership ended with the wicket of Paine (33).
Bernard dismissed Paine to break the partnership and then accounted for Michael Hussey (6) to put some brakes on the run flow.
Ponting continued his good show as he cracked nine fours and a six during his 94-ball stay but his partners kept changing at the other end.
Left-arm spinner Nikita Miller dealt a severe blow to the Australians by scalping Ponting in the 31st over.
Ponting gave a charge to Miller, mis-judged the flight of the delivery and keeper Chadwick Walton whipped the bails off.
Cameron White (4) and Callum Ferguson (20) soon joined their skipper back in the hut, leaving their team in serious trouble.
Miller was the most economical bowler of the West Indies as he gave away just 24 runs in his quota of 10 overs while taking two wickets. Roach (2/73) and Bernard (2/63) also took two wickets each