WI trail Aussies in Twenty20s, but...
Having only a 42.85 per cent win record against Australia in International Twenty20, West Indies will have their work cut out when they meet the George Bailey-skippered men in their opening ICC World Twenty20 match today at the R Premadasa Stadium, in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
The West Indies have won only three of the seven matches against the men from Down Under. Dwayne Bravo and Chris Gayle skippered the Caribbean men to victories in their first two matches in June 2008 and June 2009, respectively, and the third win came when they last met in March this year under current captain Darren Sammy at the Kensington Oval in Barbados.
However, the Reliance ICC T20 Ranking put the West Indies as the fifth best team in the world, with the Australians further down at number eight.
Chris Gayle, the number two batsman in the world in this format of the game and who turned 33 yesterday, will be the driving force in the West Indies team. He will be backed by vice-captain Dwayne Bravo, Dwayne Smith, Lendl Simmons, Kieron Pollard, Johnson Charles and Marlon Samuels.
With a batting average of 36.05 generally and 27.25 against the Aussies, Gayle may not be the spearhead for the Caribbean men in this encounter.
In Twenty20 International matches that the West Indies have won, the former captain has averaged 55.86 runs and would need a similar performance to boost his team against Australia, who have never won the ICC World Twenty20 trophy.
In fact, Gayle would have to be as good as he was at the 2009 ICC World Twenty20 at The Oval when on June 6 he cracked 88 from 50 balls for West Indies to beat Australia by seven wickets. It was his best innings in four matches against the Aussies, having made five, 12, and four, all in 2010.
Vice-captain and all-rounder Bravo will be more relied upon for his right-arm fast-medium bowling than his batting, having taken five Australian wickets from five innings.
Ranked 36 in the world and the number two West Indian bowler, Bravo has taken 24 Twenty20 International wickets, bettered only by captain Sammy, who has 31 wickets.
Bravo's batting, of course, will also prove useful with a strike rate of 120.34 that includes three sixes and two fours, despite an overall average of 27.65 runs and 23.67 against the Aussies.
The top-ranked West Indian bowler (number 12 in the world), Sammy must lead from the front in order to guide the Caribbean men through their first match.
Fidel Edwards and ICC's Emerging Player of the Year, Sunil Narine, will have to make inroads in keeping the Aussies to under 150, while helping the West Indies rack up at least 170.
In terms of partnerships, Gayle and Pollard, Simmons and Darren Bravo, Smith and Dwayne Bravo, Gayle and Charles, Smith and Charles, and Samuels and Darren Bravo have produced the best combinations.
It is hoped that at least one of those combinations would come good in Colombo today.