DHAKA, Bangladesh, CMC – Title-holders West Indies face a stern test of their form and character when they face perennial archrivals Australia in their third game of the World Twenty Championship here today.
The Caribbean side wobbled in their opening game when they went down to India by seven wickets but since then regained their composure with a convincing 73-run victory over hosts Bangladesh.
Captain Darren Sammy said yesterday that West Indies were yet to perform at their optimum and once they struck top form against the Aussies, they would be hard to beat.
He was also took confidence from the two sides’ meeting in the last T20 World Cup when West Indies came out on top.
“We have had good matches against Australia where we have come out on the winning side of things and we want to continue in that way,” Sammy told reporters.
“We are not threatened by them. It is another game of cricket. Once we play to our full potential – so far in this tournament we have not played to our full potential. Once we do that, we will be very destructive. We were destructive in that semi-final last World Cup.”
In that game, West Indies crushed the Aussies by 74 runs after piling up 205 run from their 20 overs, with opener Chris Gayle firing on all cylinders for his unbeaten 75.
Admittedly, the defending champions are yet to strike that type of form, appearing lethargic against India and still showing signs of weakness against the Tigers.
Gayle, especially, has been strangely sedate and his knocks of 34 and 48 have been measured and devoid of the flair to which fans have become accustomed.
Still Sammy believes he is key to the Windies performance.
“Chris is hitting the ball well, (Dwayne) Smith is hitting the ball well. They have put on good runs,” Sammy noted.
“Chris has not been his explosive self that we are used to and we still scored 170 against Bangladesh. Once we back ourselves and play like we know how to play T20, things will go according to plan.”
Australia have not exactly been on fire either, losing their only game so far to Pakistan, though their batsmen looked impressive in chasing down 192, falling short by just 16 runs.
A second straight loss would severely dent their hopes of reaching the semi-finals and Sammy believes the Windies are in for a fight.
“I expect a tough match. It will be a good contest. We have Samuel Badree and Sunil Narine are number two and number one in the world in T20 bowling rankings cricket at the moment. Badree has been getting wickets up front for us in the first six overs. It is something we are looking he will hopefully continue doing. It won’t be an easy game,” he said.
“The Australians are a good side. We give them that respect. But at the end of the day, it is another cricket match where it is a contest between bat and ball. The team that handles the pressure better and executes properly normally comes out on top. And we are hoping that it will be us tomorrow.”
The match bowls off at 3:30 pm (5:30 am Eastern Caribbean time).
WEST INDIES – Darren Sammy (captain), Samuel Badree, Dwayne Bravo, Johnson Charles, Sheldon Cottrell, Andre Fletcher, Chris Gayle, Sunil Narine, Denesh Ramdin, Ravi Rampaul, Andre Russell, Marlon Samuels, Krishmar Santokie, Lendl Simmons, Dwayne Smith.
AUSTRALIA – George Bailey (captain), Dan Christian, Nathan Coulter-Nile, James Faulkner, Aaron Finch, Brad Haddin, Brad Hodge, Brad Hogg, Glenn Maxwell, James Muirhead, Doug Bollinger, Mitchell Starc, David Warner, Shane Watson, Cameron White.