Inglis ton, Agar five-for power Western Australia to Marsh Cup title

Inglis ton, Agar five-for power Western Australia to Marsh Cup title

Western Australia 387 for 7 (Inglis 138, Bancroft 90, Marsh 56, W Agar 2-56) beat South Australia 206 (Hunt 50, Smith 44, Agar 5-64) by 181 runs

Josh Inglis tuned up for the India ODI tour with a blistering century as Western Australia capped a flawless Marsh Cup season by thrashing South Australia in a one-sided final at the WACA.

Promoted to open after in-form D’Arcy Short was controversially dropped, Inglis smashed 138 off 110 balls to fuel Western Australia’s massive 387 for 7 after being sent in to bat.

It was Western Australia’s joint-highest score in 50-over cricket as they gained a stranglehold on a record-extending 16th title in the competition.

South Australia lasted just 31.4 overs in a forlorn chase as WA successfully defended their title in a season where they won all eight matches.

Having returned from the India Test tour after being overlooked for selection, left-arm spinner Ashton Agar tied down the batters with trademark accuracy on a flat surface. He finished with his best Marsh Cup figures of 5 for 64 in a tonic for him ahead of returning to India.

Player-of-the-match Inglis struck his first List A century in style and overtook Michael Bevan’s 135 in 2000-01 for the highest individual score in a final. He shared in a second-wicket partnership of 227 with in-form Cameron Bancroft to dazzle a strong crowd of 2700, a healthy turnout considering the strange mid-week scheduling.

“It was nice to get up to the top, the fields up…you don’t get a chance to score hundreds if you’re batting five or six,” said Inglis, who revealed he knew about his elevation to open during a team meeting on Tuesday morning. “We’ll see if I get an opportunity over there [India] but it’s nice I’ve got the form to go back on.”

Mitchell Marsh, coming in at No.4 and playing as a specialist batter, continued his impressive return after a three-month layoff from ankle surgery with a 30-ball 56 in the fastest half-century in a Marsh Cup final. After his recent ton in the Sheffield Shield match against Tasmania, Marsh hit five sixes in a showcase of his trademark power to flatten SA’s flagging attack.

Hunting their first 50-over title since 2012, a nervy South Australia were out of their depth against a stacked Western Australia team fielding four players who will be part of the upcoming three-match ODI series in India.

It was a disappointing end for South Australia, who have improved considerably in the Marsh Cup and Sheffield Shield this season after a period in the wilderness.

“Obviously bitterly disappointed,” SA coach Jason Gillespie said. “We know we are a lot better than what we showed out there. “We have a lot to take away and hopefully we get better.”

In warm but gloomy conditions, South Australia skipper Jake Lehmann decided to bowl and was backed up by speedster Spencer Johnson, who has enjoyed a breakout season across formats. He dismissed player-of-the-tournament Josh Philippe in the first over after Nathan McAndrew took a fine running catch at mid-on.

But South Australia’s fielding deteriorated from there with Inglis dropped by Henry Hunt on the boundary off spinner Ben Manenti in a pivotal moment. Having made just 26 off 42 balls to that point, Inglis suddenly clicked into gear and made South Australia pay with a belligerent assault as he needed just another 45 deliveries to notch his century.

Inglis mixed inventive strokes, including well executed reversed scoops, with sweet textbook drives to demoralise South Australia whose sloppy fielding effort also included Henry Thornton dropping Bancroft when he was on 51.

As a thunderstorm, rare in Perth this time of year, threatened to intervene, South Australia openers Hunt and Kelvin Smith provided the fireworks to notch a 50-run partnership within six overs. Having been a late replacement for Jake Carder, who injured his hamstring in the warm-up, Smith sparkled in his 50-over debut for South Australia as he pounced on unusually listless bowling from the quicks.

But he fell on 44 after tamely spooning to short midwicket as South Australia were shackled by quick Andrew Tye and spinner Agar, who claimed Hunt for 50 to trigger a slew of wickets.

It was only a matter of time before Western Australia celebrated another triumph as the powerhouse state remains on course for a treble of domestic titles for the second straight season.

Tristan Lavalette is a journalist based in Perth

(With Inputs from ESPN)

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