Aussies eyeing Gayle

Chris Gayle going through catching drills in the nets today.
Chris Gayle going through catching drills in the nets today.

PERTH – Australia will have their eyes firmly fixed on opening batsman Chris Gayle when the first of five One-Day Internationals bowls off tonight at the WACA Ground.

Aussie wicketkeeper Matthew Wade and left-arm pacer Mitchell Johnson have labelled the hard-hitting left-hander as one of the West Indies’ biggest threats.

“He’s dangerous wherever you bowl to him. He’s shown over a long period of time he can take any attack down,” Wade said of Gayle, who has failed to pass 35 in his past eight ODIs.

“Every time you play against Chris Gayle, you’re hoping to get him out early. It would be nice if we could do the same over these next five One-Dayers.

“But he’ll be looking to go pretty hard at us, I would have thought. We have just got to execute our plans.”

After struggling against Sri Lanka this summer, Australia are desperate to record a comprehensive series win over the West Indies.

Sri Lanka drew the One-Day series 2-2, before beating Australia in both T20 encounters.

“We need to go out there and really dominate the West Indies,” Johnson said. “We want to keep on top of these guys and try and win this series well.”

Despite boasting some of the biggest hitters in world cricket, the West Indies remain a hit-or-miss prospect.

The West Indies won the T20 World Cup in October last year but, more recently, slumped to a 3-2 series loss to Bangladesh in the 50-over format.

“They’re really dangerous. They’ve got powerhitters… They hit a lot more sixes than probably any other team,” Wade said of a side featuring the likes of Gayle, Kieron Pollard, Dwayne Bravo, Darren Sammy and young Andre Russell.

Australian skipper Michael Clarke, who missed the final ODI against Sri Lanka due to an ankle injury, batted in the WACA nets on Wednesday and is almost certain to play tonight.

Meanwhile scans have been carried out on Kieran Powell and Andre Russell to determine their ability to play in tonight’s opener. Both sustained injuries during Tuesday’s practice match against a Prime Minister’s X1.

“We are monitoring the guys who got injuries in the last game and hopefully they could recover as quickly as possible,” captain Darren Sammy said.

“They went for scans today and we are waiting on the report. So we are keeping our fingers crossed”.

Powell was forced to retire hurt with leg cramps eight runs away from scoring a century while Russell is reportedly suffering from a sore knee but is expected to be fit in time for the match.

“Powell retired hurt in the last game and Russell could not bowl his quota of overs,” said Sammy.

“They went for scans this morning and hopefully it’s nothing serious and they can take part in this series”.

The West Indies team will feature a number of players who participated in the recently concluded Australian Big Bash league such as Gayle, Pollard, Kemar Roach and Sunil Narine.

Sammy suggested their participation in Australia’s top T20 tournament had also increased the team’s chances of success Down Under.

“It will be a massive help for us,” said Sammy.

“The experience they have gathered playing here over the years could be passed on to the youngsters like Powell who had a good outing in the last game and young batsmen like Bravo and Jason Holder and Johnson Charles”.

The match starts at 11 p.m.†

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