WI vs AUS (Final, Tri-Series 2016) – Preview
In West Indies’ first assignment since its ICC World Twenty20 2016 win in India, the side finds itself in another final. This time, it’s Australia it will be taking on at the Kensington Oval in Bridgetown, Barbados on Sunday (June 26) for bragging rights in the triangular One-Day International series.
West Indies showed impressive resilience to beat back South Africa’s challenge and get to the title clash in the final league match.
Everything seemed to be going South Africa’s way at the start. It won a crucial toss, denying West Indies a chance to chase in a knockout game, and reduced the home team to 21 for 4 inside five overs. Well begun is half done, AB de Villiers and his men might have thought. What they didn’t bargain for was West Indies fighting back through Darren Bravo (102) and Kieron Pollard (62) to post 285, and then bowling the South Africans all out for 185.
It wasn’t the first time in the series West Indies roared back from a precarious position. On Tuesday, Australia cornered the team at 31 for 3, and Marlon Samuels responded with a hundred to take the side to a competitive 282 for 8. It wasn’t enough then, but West Indies’ bouncebackability is something to marvel at — even Makhaya Ntini asked his Zimbabwe wards to learn from their example — and Australia will need to be wary of letting that happen a second time.
West Indies has the advantage of having played twice at the Kensington Oval wicket, but in both games it managed 280-odd — enough to spook South Africa, but not Australia. With both teams boasting of considerable depth in their line-up, the toss could once again prove key with batting second looking like the preferred option.
How the West Indies batsmen negotiate Mitchell Starc could be the deciding factor. In the two games where Australia defeated West Indies, he picked up 2 for 37 and 3 for 51. In the one game where the result was reversed, Starc was rested. With the talismanic David Warner being ruled out of the series with a broken finger, the left-arm fast bowler could be Australia’s biggest trump card.
Jason Holder, meanwhile, has maintained Sunil Narine is that ace up West Indies’ sleeve. It’s plain to see why when you look at the numbers since his comeback to international cricket with a remodelled action: 11 wickets in six games, an economy rate of 3.84, and a best of 6 for 27. Australia has denied the offspinner wickets in the past two outings, but having weaved his magic on Friday, he’ll still remain a looming threat.
Sunday promises to be a tantalising game, pitting the World Cup champions against the World T20 champions. No doubt, Australia has enjoyed the sun and sand in its month-long tour of the Caribbean, but West Indies may not be so hospitable as to let the team take home a trophy as a souvenir.