Do-or-die time for West Indies

Chris Gayle getting in some net practice today
Chris Gayle getting in some net practice today

CANBERRA – West Indies enter tonight’s One-Day International at the Manuka Oval in a must-win situation if they are to remain in the five-match series that they trail Australia 0-2.

While Australia have been spearheaded brilliantly by the likes of Mitchell Starc with the ball and George Bailey with the bat, the likes of Chris Gayle and Ramnaresh Sarwan have been woefully out of form. While their bowlers have performed well, the West Indies still failed to close out an innings where Australia recovered from a position of just over 100 for six wickets to 266 for seven.

The fast, lively Perth pitch prepared for the first two matches will be in sharp contrast to the strip of turf expected for Manuka Oval’s first day/night ODI match, as the oval is well known for providing one of the most amiable if nondescript surfaces in the country.

How the two teams adapt to the surface will be interesting. The lower bounce and slower pace will provide something of a relief for several batsmen on both sides, in particular Shane Watson as he attempts to regain form and confidence after injury. Chris Gayle is another lacking in many runs behind him this summer, both with the West Indies and the Sydney Thunder in the BBL. If the West Indies are to have a chance to salvage the series in the nation’s capital, then Gayle will be hopeful of figuring prominently.

Australian captain Michael Clarke took one look at the wicket and realised it would favour batsmen like Gayle at the top of the order. The Prime Minister’s XI game at the same venue last week produced more than 600 runs.

“It has only been a couple of games in regards to one-dayers (for Gayle), but we know how destructive he can be,” Clarke said.

“I know he’ll be very keen to get out here and make some runs knowing it’s a pretty good wicket for batting.

“It’s part of our job as a bowling unit to try and restrict Chris from making as many runs as he would like because he’s such a big player for them. He’s a match-winner, he can win a game on his own,” Clarke said.

Today West Indies captain Darren Sammy enthused about the high quality of his team’s fielding in the second match at Perth but still was keenly aware that despite that one positive, his charges still lost the game comfortably.

“We are hoping to bring that (good fielding) and the other aspects of the game to the field when we face the Aussies. Kieran Powell and Dwayne Bravo played really well and I really want to commend them on the way they played. What we need is for the other batsman, like myself, to come on board and put some runs on the board. From now on every game is a final and we have to play it like that. The bowlers gave us a good start but we weren’t able to close them out with that killer punch, so we are working hard to get all three disciplines spot on and look to click,” Sammy said.

He added: “This is a crucial game… we have to play well with bat, ball and in the field. We felt we should have won the second match. We have been training well but it is on the cricket pitch where it all matters. We have to seize those key moments, that’s the challenge we face and the one we will stand up to,” the Windies captain added.

Tonight’s game starts at 11.30 p.m.††

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