Watson's century sets up Aussie victory
ST GEORGE'S (Grenada): Shane Watson collected his maiden century to power Australia to a seven-wicket victory in the third One-Day International against West Indies on Sunday.
Watson, playing in his first One-day series since the final of the World Cup last year, hit 126 from 122 balls as Australia, chasing 224 runs from their allocation of 50 overs, hit their target.
The winning runs came when Xavier Marshall delivered a wide delivery to Michael Clarke down the leg-side that went all the way to the boundary with 57 balls to spare at the Queen's Park Stadium.
The victory gave Australia an insurmountable 3-0 lead in the five-match series, after they won opening match by 84 runs last Tuesday at the Arnos Vale Sports Complex, and the second ODI by 63 runs under the Duckworth-Lewis Method last Friday at this venue.
Watson got into his stride quickly, after Australia suffered an early setback when Shaun Marsh was bowled by Fidel Edwards for a five-ball duck in the opening over of the chase.
But Watson found Australia captain Ricky Ponting a stable ally, and they put the visitors firmly on course for victory in a stand of 190 for the second wicket.
Watson reached his 50 from 48 balls in spectacular fashion in the 13th over bowled by Sulieman Benn. He cut a succession of long-hops from the beanpole left-arm spin bowler through backward point for three of the 15 fours he struck.
But the champagne moment for Watson came in the 32nd over when he pulled his 106th delivery from West Indies captain Chris Gayle -- bowling his part-time off-spin -- through mid-wicket for his 13th four to reach his landmark.
Watson's stroke-play overshadowed that from Ponting, but the Australia captain still reeled off a few delightful strokes and reached his 50 when he pushed his 57th ball from Benn into the covers for a single.
When Watson and Ponting were dismissed within three overs of each other, Australia were 17 runs away from the magic number.
Ponting swung a ball from Gayle and was caught at long-on in the 34th over, and Watson scooped a ball from Darren Sammy over his left shoulder, and was caught at fine leg in the 37th over, but Michael Clarke and Andrew Symonds remained the rest of the way.
Earlier, choosing to field, the Aussies bowled and fielded with typical purpose and dismissed West Indies for 223 in 48 overs.
Gayle hit five fours and three sixes in the top score of 53 from 54 balls, but several other batsmen were guilty of getting starts without carrying on.
Marshall made 35, Shivnarine Chanderpaul got 32, Ramnaresh Sarwan gathered 31, and Denesh Ramdin contributed 21.
Nathan Bracken was again Australia's most successful bowler with three wickets for 26 runs from nine overs, and Symonds captured two for 42 from seven overs.
Australia's bowlers brought their side back into the match, after Gayle and Marshall put on 86 for the first wicket.
The Australians had kept things tight early on, but Gayle and compatriot Marshall steadily grew in confidence, and the runs started to flow.
Gayle reached his 50 in the 17th over in spectacular fashion. He drove the penultimate ball of Andrew Symonds' first over for a straight four, and then lofted the next ball over long-off for his third six about 12 rows back in the lower deck of the grand stand at the River End of the ground.
In the next over, Mitchell Johnson ran Gayle out when Marshall drove straight and the bowler stuck out his left-hand, deflecting the ball on to the stumps with Gayle out of his crease.
Wicketkeeper Luke Ronchi then held a fine catch diving to his right to dismiss Marshall off Shane Watson for 35 in the 21st over to leave West Indies 99 for two.
But the Aussies met two familiar stumbling blocks in Sarwan and Chanderpaul. The experienced pair added a valuable 61 for the third wicket to stabilise the innings, but their dismissals within four overs of each other left West Indies 168 for four.
Michael Clarke had Chanderpaul caught behind top-edging a loose cut in the 33rd over, and in the 37th over, Mitchell Johnson had Sarwan caught at short extra cover, but the rest of the batting offered little or no resistance to the Aussie bowlers.
The last two ODIs of the series will be contested on July 4 and 6 at Warner Park in the St. Kitts capital of Basseterre.