West Indies will play Australia in the first of two T20Is at Gros Islet in St. Lucia on March 27.
Australia have been stung hard by the West Indies in the ODI series and could only manage a 2-2 result with one game tied. In fact, with a little more luck West Indies could have easily won the series.
The home team’s fighting qualities came to the fore in all the five games including the fifth ODI in which they almost came back from the dead thanks to captain Darren Sammy’s 50-ball 84 towards the end of the game. Australia will know that they can hardly relax against this West Indian side, a far cry from the previous teams from this part of the world in recent times.
The T20Is will see Australia being led by George Bailey, their new skipper in this format of the game. He has had the practice to play in West Indies after making it to the ODI squad as well and that is a positive for the Aussies.
Shane Watson, who finally stuck form with the bat in the last game, will also open the innings in the T20I with Dave Warner with the rest of the side expected to be on similar lines to the ODIs. Phil Nevill and Nathan Lyon are sure to miss out while Daniel Christian could make it to the 11 in place of Peter Forrest.
West Indies will be bolstered by the news that Chris Gayle has been cleared by the West Indies Cricket Board but there is still doubt over whether he will make it to the T20I squad. If he does not, likes of Johnson Charles and Adrian Barath should provide the West Indies with the start while Dwayne Bravo, Kieron Pollard and Andre Russell’s all-round skills will allow them to form the middle-order.
After his exploits in the Bangladesh Premier League, Dwayne Smith may get a look-in while Fidel Edwards will take the new ball. Sunil Narine will continue to remain a difficult prospect for the Aussies but the visitors will be happy with the manner in which they batted in the fifth ODI.
This will be a tough game to call, especially after West Indies’ ODI showings although I will put West Indies slightly ahead as favourites.
The West Indies v Australia 1st T20I will be played from 6 pm GMT on March 27, 2012.