Australia Captain Steve Smith said he will be banking on his openers to set the tone come today when they take on the West Indies in the second match of the 2016 Day/Night Tri-Nation 50 overs series to be played at the Providence National Stadium, Guyana.
Smith, during the pre-match press conference yesterday, said he was happy to watch Friday’s match between the hosts West Indies and South Africa, where the Caribbean side pulled off a thrilling four-wicket win with 11 balls to spare after Sunil Narine’s career-best 6 for 27 and Kieron Pollard’s unbeaten 67.
The Aussie skipper seemed quite confident that the Providence pitch, which favored the spinners in the first game, would again provide the same assistance to his slower men today.
He added that he was looking to openers David Warner and Aaron Finch to get them the side off to a good start.
“I don’t think you can’t tell Davy Warner or Aaron Finch how to play too much,” said Smith with a slight chuckle as he acknowledged the aggressive nature of the two batsmen.
“I think it’s their natural instinct to play shots and hopefully it gets us in a good position, then we’ll try to make the most of the first 6 to 10 overs.”
Narine, who claimed the best figures by a West Indian spinner against South Africa in the first match, is a renowned world beater in limited overs cricket and Smith admitted that each batsman will need to have their own contingency plan for the off-spinner.
“I think it’s about each individual batter having to hold their own against him. He’s a bowler with a different set of skills but a lot more guys are seeing him and some of our guys have seen him in the IPL.” said Smith.
With left-arm pacer Mitchell Starc back in the side as well as leg-spinner Adam Zampa, who has been in brilliant bowling form over the past few months in limited overs cricket, the Aussie skipper was upbeat about his bowlers playing critical roles in today’s match.
South African spinners Imran Tahir, Aaron Phangiso and JP Duminy had combined to take six wickets in Friday’s game, stats which show that while Providence might not be as kind to the quicker bowlers, the spinners are likely to make breakthroughs.
Smith was confident that his in-form leg-spinner would pose a threat to the home team.
“He’s (Zampa) got a lot of confidence. He knows what he’s trying to do and he’s reading the batsmen very well. His control has improved and I’m happy with how he bowled in New Zealand and the World T20 Cup as well as the IPL,” he added.
As the reigning limited overs World Cup champs and the number one ranked team in One Day International (ODI) cricket, the 27-year-old said it was important to see Friday’s game because it provided first hand intelligence on today’s opponents as well as the pitch and conditions, factors Smith noted were crucial ahead of an important overseas encounter.
He explained that seeing how the batsmen were forced to apply themselves after the new ball got old and how the seamers resorted to bowling cutters and other variations was helpful in terms of the team’s selection for today’s match in addition to their execution.
“It was nice to see the game yesterday. It’s a different wicket but conditions will be similar and we think it’s the best 12 for this particular game and for this particular opposition. We’ve got a balanced team and I think we have the right team for the first game.
“My thoughts before yesterday’s games was that it was going to a low scoring game so it’s about being smart especially in the middle order after the ball has gotten old and make sure we’re smart with our skills.”
The West Indies will want to continue their winning ways and a star-studded Australia side should test the resolve as well as the momentum the hosts currently carry. Today’s match begins at 13:00hrs.
West Indies: Jason Holder (capt), Sulieman Benn, Carlos Brathwaite, Darren Bravo, Jonathan Carter, Johnson Charles, Andre Fletcher, Shannon Gabriel, Sunil Narine, Ashley Nurse, Kieron Pollard, Denesh Ramdin (wk), Marlon Samuels, Jerome Taylor.
Australia: Steven Smith (captain), David Warner, George Bailey, Scott Boland, Nathan Coulter-Nile, James Faulkner, Aaron Finch, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Mitchell Starc, Matthew Wade (wk), Adam Zampa.