Lines drawn

Windies, Aussies go at each other in must-win game

DHAKA – West Indies take the field tomorrow morning against Australia at the Shere Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur with added incentive to defeat the Aussies who are still to open their account in the International Cricket Council’s Twenty20 Championship in Bangladesh.

Australia lost their first match of the tournament against Sri Lanka, while West Indies, after going down to India, bounced back with an easy win over their hosts Bangladesh.

Today Australian all-rounder James Faulkner stoked some early fire under the crucial encounter by stating he didn’t particularly like West Indian cricketers.

“I don’t particularly like them,” Faulkner said. “Good players are good players. You have to do things to get under their skin and try and irritate them to try and get them off their game. Players do that to me and I do it to other players.
It’s a fact of the game.

“A lot of it is played in your mind. If you can do something to upset somebody and upset their team, it goes a long way towards doing well as a group.”

There is already some history between the Australians and Chris Gayle from last year, and Faulkner’s comments ahead of tomorrow’s clash has only revived those feelings.

In his debut series early last year, Faulkner was fined a part of his match fee for shouting in Gayle’s direction after dismissing the batsman in Canberra. Faulkner suggested he would not hesitate to do something similar if it helped Australia in what is almost a must-win game for both sides.

Even Brad Haddin and Gayle have had a run-in last year during the Big Bash. When Haddin was dismissed by Gayle, Haddin said that at least then the fans of Gayle’s franchise had seen him do something for his money. Gayle had been having a poor tournament with the bat for Sydney Thunder.

Gayle responded with a tweet saying that he was better than Haddin even if he batted right-handed. But West Indies captain Darren Sammy has made light of Faulkner’s sentiments, stating that the Australian all-rounder was probably the only cricketer who did not like the men of the Caribbean.

Asked whether the situation would be added motivation for his team, Sammy pointed to West Indies’ big win over Australia in the 2012 World T20 semi-final, and said that if anyone had bragging rights, it was his team.

“The Australians normally have a lot to say. We are here to play cricket. I think probably James is the only cricketer that does not love West Indians. I could safely say West Indies are the second favourite team for the fans.

“It does not bother us. Talk is talk. We have got to walk the talk out there on the cricket field. He can say all he wants. We are not bothered by it.

“I think the last time we played them in a World Cup we all know what happened. If anybody should be talking probably we should, but I do not want to say that. Once we back ourselves and play like we know how to play T20 . . . they will come with their pace attack. Last time they did that we scored 200 I think.

“We are not threatened by them. It is another game of cricket. Once we play to our full potential . . . so far in this tournament we have not played to our full potential. Once we do that, we will be very destructive. We were destructive in that semi-final last World Cup.”

But while Australia might be seeking to come hard at the West Indies with their pace attack, it is the combined spin and swing threat of Samuel Badree and Krishmar Santokie, along with the tried and tested Sunil Narine, that West Indies will likely respond. In both their matches so far, West Indies have been able to break through early. While they did not have too many to defend against India, they made the most of scoreboard pressure against Bangladesh. Santokie struck twice off successive deliveries in his second over, by which time Badree had already taken out Tamim Iqbal.

Badree and Santokie picked up seven for 32 between them against Bangladesh, and while acknowledging they had been assisted by the 171 runs the West Indies batsmen had scored, Badree said the duo would continue to look for wickets while bowling to Australia’s top order.

“Santokie is known for his wicket-taking ability. That is very, very important in the Powerplay overs,” Badree said. “If you can take wickets, you can put pressure on the opposition batsmen. If you don’t take wickets, that means that the openers will be there and they will be able to score freely. So it is good bowling with him because he is someone who always gets early wickets with the new ball.

“In this tournament so far I have been getting early wickets as well. We have been working well with that partnership, he from one end, I from the next. As long as we can maintain getting early wickets and restricting the opposition in the first six overs, I think that is exactly what the team needs.”

Sammy had talked up Santokie before West Indies’ opener against India, saying he had taken plenty of wickets in the Caribbean Premier League and would be a player to watch out for as the tournament progressed. Santokie has displayed a deceptive slower ball so far
in the tournament, getting it to move appreciably off the pitch at times. He has also been quite accurate, which Badree felt was crucial in the format.

Australia’s major challenge, however, will be against spin, which they succumbed to against Pakistan despite Glenn Maxwell’s counter-attack, losing five wickets in all to Zulfiqar Babar, Saeed Ajmal and Shahid Afridi. In the 2012 World T20 semi-final, Badree, Narine and Marlon Samuels took five Australian wickets between them in West Indies’ huge win. Sammy expected Badree and Narine, the world’s top-ranked T20 bowlers, to again pose problems for Australia.

“It will be a good contest. Badree and Narine are one and two in the world in T20 cricket at the moment and Badree has been getting wickets upfront for us in the first six overs,” Sammy said.

“It is something we are looking he will hopefully continue doing. Won’t be an easy game. The Australians are a good side. We give them that respect. But at the end of the day, it is another cricket match where it is a contest between bat and ball. The team that handles pressure better and executes properly normally comes out on top. And we are hoping that it will be us tomorrow.”

Game time is 5:30 a.m.

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