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The T20 Champs vs The ODI Champs

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West_Indies_Australia_logos_cricketThe tri series in West Indies involving Australia, South Africa and West Indies was supposed to fill the void after four months of uninterrupted T20 cricket. The pitches at Carribean and the series involving three teams meant that it was a bit different to normal bilateral ODI series involving a run galore. A series in which a total of sub 300 is successfully defended, four centuries scored and seven times teams have been bowled out in 16 innings. A series in which the apparent outsider (the hosts, West Indies) has managed to seal a place in the final is the kind of series a sports lover admires. A series in which no team seemed favourite once it began.

The West Indies has been weirdly intelligent most of the times in the way they played in this tri series with a squad which is, at best, a second string squad. Bowling or batting, they have managed to execute their game plan.

The opening partnership for the West Indies is a bit of concern with both openers, Andre Fletcher and Johnson Charles, unable to score against the quality bowling on offer in the opposition team.  None of the openers have managed to score a half century and this is one area where they would like to better their performance, but it won’t be easy against the likes of Mitchell Starc. The number three of West Indies team, the Lara-esque Darren Bravo, is the most elegant batsman in this batting line up but like Rohit Sharma has not done justice to his talent. Though scored a match winning hundred against South Africa in a knockout match but has certainly not been consistent. Now that he is accustomed to the pitch at Bridgetown he should make most of his form.

 

The biggest concern for West Indies is that most of the batsman except Marlon Samuels has contributed inconsistently. Samuels has been the holding block of the line up with an aggregate of 252 runs in the series (most runs in the series till now). He has bailed out West Indies two times and once when they were reeling at 31-3 against Australia.

The bowling set up the series for the hosts in the first match with Narine, coming back from injury, taking six wickets against South Africa and handed West Indies an easy win. A series which is dominated by the spinners, Narine and Benn will need to play a substantial role against Australia, whose record against spin is well known.

The world champs, Australia, started the series like one but in their second match against South Africa it was an inspired spell by Rabada and Tahir which saw Australia failing to chase paltry 190. This prompted to bring about changes in the XI and Maxwell was aptly dropped from the team. But such is the squad depth of this Australian team that the replacements were not an issue even when the IPL 2016 star, David Warner, was injured. Maxwell made a fantastic comeback and steered Australia against the hosts chasing 283 runs.

This win against West Indies had many positives for Aussies in the batting department with Maxwell and Mithcell Marsh completing the run chase when at one point it seemed the match would be closer. However, bowling without Starc seems a bit weak as every other bowler were easily worked around.

The Venue:

The venue for the Final is Bridgetown and two matches played here in this series may not be encouraging for the hosts as only three wickets were managed by the spinners off the 32 wickets which fell in these two matches (all three wickets by Narine).

This venue is traditionally known for quick pitches but over the years it has changed. If we look at the last series played here, between Pakistan and West Indies in 2011, in the two matches played here 12 wickets were taken by the spinners off the 30 wickets which fell. This pitch can certainly spin here and will be interesting if the pitch is prepared that way.

In this 2011 series scores of 248/(1)/154(2) and 171(1)/177(2) were scored and both were lost by West Indies.

With Australia ostensibly strong against the hosts, one area in which the hosts could target the world champions is their ineptitude against the Spin bowling. With quality spinners, Narine and Benn, in their XI and a little help from pitch they can orchestrate an upset.

 

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