BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, CMC – West Indies will seek to write a happy ending to a promising Tri-Nations campaign when they clash with Australia in today’s final, in a contest that brings together the champions of the Twenty20 and 50-overs World Cups.
The lowest ranked side in the three-team tournament, the hosts defied expectations to reach the championship game and are now within reach of their second title in three months, following their T20 success in India.
Australia, meanwhile, reached the final by topping the standings and will fancy their chances of beating the Windies for the second time on this leg and for the third time in the tournament, to walk away with the title.
Written off by many prior to the start of the series, West Indies have shown glimpses of brilliance throughout and captain Jason Holder said this would serve as a confidence booster for his side in today’s game at Kensington Oval.
“It is a big plus for the team and for West Indies cricket. We’ve shown that we can compete against good sides,” the 24-year-old all-rounder said.
“Nobody goes into a final to lose; we’re obviously going to compete; we’re obviously going to win the final. We’ve done reasonably well in this tournament so far to put ourselves in the final and I just think it’s important – as I said before – that we handle the process and let the end result take care of itself.”
He added: “Going into Sunday, I think it’s just basic for one of our top four batsmen to keep going, get a hundred and bat as long as possible and if we can control the first ten
overs in the power-play … I think that is crucial for us in setting up the game for our middle overs.
“We’ve all seen the impact of Sunil Narine in this series, Even though he may not have gotten the wickets he wanted in this leg and maybe St Kitts, I think his economy rate is still excellent, he builds pressure and people are very circumspect with him.
“[We have to] finish off the innings and once we do these things and finish well, we’re in with a very good chance.”
West Indies clinched their spot in the final on Friday night when they beat South Africa by 100 runs in the final preliminary game.
The win was their second of the tournament over the Proteas but it did not come without grind. West Indies were slumping at 21 for four in the fifth over before rallying through Darren Bravo’s hundred to reach 285 all out.
The story was similar against Australia last Tuesday. They were tottering at 31 for three and needed Marlon Samuels’ hundred to get up to 282.
And with both openers Johnson Charles and Andre Fletcher falling for single digits in the last two games, Holder emphasized the importance of a good start against the Aussies.
“Obviously we haven’t gotten a start in these last two games,” he acknowledged.
“We’ve been two or three wickets down pretty early and it would be good to see if we can get a better start in terms of the batting and make sure we give our middle order a good chance to settle in and have a blast at the end.”
He continued: “Having said that, you never quite get a perfect, perfect game going together. The beauty about these last two games is that we got hundreds from two of our top four batsmen.
“That’s something we stressed on in the dressing room and it’s very good to see Marlon got one in the game against Australia and Darren got one in the game against South Africa.
“I think it is key that if the top order doesn’t click, that someone in the middle order puts up their hand and carry it deep for the team. We’ve been able to do that for the last two games.”
West Indies’ one-day record in recent years has been nothing to celebrate. In fact, they have languished near the bottom of the international rankings, and for the first time missed out on qualification for next year’s Champions Trophy.
But Holder said he was encouraged by the way the Windies had stacked up against the higher-ranked sides in the Tri-Nations and this had created self-belief in the camp.
“We beat the number three ranked side in the world (South Africa), we beat Australia in St Kitts so we’ve done well in this tournament so far and we’re pretty confident,” he noted.
“We just need to keep putting the pieces of the puzzle together. I always stress on the process, once we handle the process then the end result will take care of itself.”
WEST INDIES – Jason Holder (captain), Johnson Charles, Andre Fletcher, Darren Bravo, Marlon Samuels, Denesh Ramdin, Kieron Pollard, Carlos Brathwaite, Jonathan Carter, Sunil Narine, Sulieman Benn, Ashley Nurse, and Shannon Gabriel.
AUSTRALIA – Steve Smith (captain), Aaron Finch, Usman Khawaja, George Bailey, Glenn Maxwell, Mitchell Marsh, Matthew Wade, James Faulkner, Mitchell Starc, Adam Zampa, Scott Boland, Josh Hazlewood, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Travis Head and Nathan Lyon.