Sunday, February 7, MCG
Start time 1425 (0325 GMT)
The Big Picture
West Indies kicked off Australia’s home summer and now they’re back to finish it off with five ODIs and two Twenty20s after the Australians completed a tri-format clean-sweep of Pakistan. Chris Gayle’s men showed more consistent fight in the Test series than did Mohammad Yousuf’s team and they have started their return leg of the Australian tour well, by posting a remarkable 5 for 399 - of which Gayle made 146 - in 45 overs against the Prime Minister’s XI.
The two batting stars are Gayle and Kieron Pollard, who thrilled Australian crowds during the Big Bash last month, but the loss of Dwayne Bravo due to a broken thumb is a big blow to a team already missing Ramnaresh Sarwan and Shivnarine Chanderpaul. It is a while since this outfit has played 50-over cricket, though. The player-board crisis meant a second-string team was sent to the Champions Trophy having also lost at home to Bangladesh and Gayle hasn’t led a full-strength ODI team since early July.
For Australia, the challenge is to attempt to maintain the superb winning run they have enjoyed in the 50-over format over the past few months. Since the start of the post-Ashes one-dayers in the United Kingdom, Australia have won a remarkable 20 of 24 ODIs, with a dead-rubber loss to England and two defeats at the hands of India their only blemishes.
Form guide (most recent first)
West Indies LLLLL
Watch out for…
Chris Gayle proved during the Test series that he enjoys batting in Australia and he was the Player of the Series having made contrasting hundreds in Adelaide and Perth. The one-day format suits Gayle even better and 146 from 89 balls against the Prime Minister’s XI was a handy warm-up. He hasn’t made an ODI century against Australia but given the form he’s in, this is the perfect opportunity. “I’m looking forward to it,” Gayle said. “I think over here in Australia it actually suits my batting. The wickets here have a bit more pace and a bit more bounce. I like the ball coming on to the bat.”
It will be interesting to see whether Ryan Harris can continue his remarkable form against a new opponent. Harris burst on to the scene with back-to-back five-fors against Pakistan and was so impressive that he was named Player of the Series despite not playing the first two matches. His bustling style of fast bowling will suit the MCG pitch if it’s as quick as during Friday’s Twenty20, but containing Gayle is a different task to restricting the Pakistan openers.
Australia’s selectors face a decision over which in-form fast bowler to leave out. Doug Bollinger is back in the squad after resting for the final two ODIs against Pakistan, while Harris, Clint McKay and Mitchell Johnson are all in good form. The rest of the side basically picks itself, with James Hopes likely to be squeezed out once again.
Australia (possible) 1 Shane Watson, 2 Shaun Marsh, 3 Ricky Ponting (capt), 4 Michael Clarke, 5 Cameron White, 6 Michael Hussey, 7 Brad Haddin (wk), 8 Mitchell Johnson, 9 Nathan Hauritz, 10 Ryan Harris, 11 Clint McKay/Doug Bollinger.
If all West Indies’ players were fit, their starting line-up would most likely include Bravo, Chanderpaul, Sarwan, Jerome Taylor, Adrian Barath, and possibly Fidel Edwards and Sulieman Benn. None of those seven are fit. It means opportunities for several fresher faces. Wavell Hinds arrives in Melbourne the night before the game and is unlikely to be rushed into the side. Of the team that beat the Prime Minister’s XI, the most likely change is Runako Morton to replace Narsingh Deonarine.
West Indies (possible) 1 Chris Gayle (capt), 2 Travis Dowlin, 3 Lendl Simmons, 4 Runako Morton, 5 Kieron Pollard, 6 Dwayne Smith, 7 Denesh Ramdin (wk), 8 Darren Sammy, 9 Nikita Miller, 10 Ravi Rampaul, 11 Kemar Roach.
Pitch and conditions
The fast surface encountered by Australia and Pakistan for Friday’s Twenty20 will provide encouragement to the likes of Kemar Roach and Johnson. Such was the pace that Ricky Ponting was surprised to note Shane Watson’s second-last ball of the game was 142kph. “Watto rarely gets to those sort of speeds,” Ponting said. The forecast for Sunday in Melbourne is mostly sunny with a maximum temperature of 29C.
Stats and trivia
* Australia’s record at the MCG in recent years is poor - they have won only one of their past six one-day internationals at the venue
* In 25 ODIs between the teams at the MCG, West Indies have won 13 to Australia’s 10. But there have been two distinct eras: West Indies dominated until 1988 but have beaten Australia just once in an MCG one-dayer since then
* The last time Australia lost an ODI to West Indies was in the 2006 Champions Trophy
“Our one-day record over the last few months is very, very good but we can’t afford to just be happy with what we’ve done. We have to keep moving forward.”
“I don’t see any reason we can’t get it done. The wickets over here are very good to bat on. It should be even-steven going into this game.”
Image Source: Cricinfo
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Post InfoThis entry was posted on Saturday, February 6th, 2010 and is filed under Cricket, General.
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