A lot depends on Gayle and Watson
by Asher Wilson

Scorecard:Australia v West Indies
Event:ICC World Twenty20 2012/13

DateLine: 5th October 2012


Australia vs West Indies
2nd Semi-final
World T20 2012
Match Preview


The Aussies take on the Caribbean Army in the second semifinal of the ICC World T20 2012 today at at Colombo. While the West Indies came into the tournament carrying a tag of favorites, Australia were uncharacteristically placed in the second half of the T20 international rankings. On paper, it promises to be a thriller with both sides boasting of some power players who can win games single-handed. Australia have been a major force because of Shane Watson, but one can say that West Indies have put in a fine team effort so far.


In terms of the contest, a lot would depend on the performance of Chris Gayle and Watson. Both are the respective game-changers for their sides. Watson has delivered with both bat and ball – highlighting his value to this side. With the bat he has been absolutely brilliant and has been the key at the top. David Warner and Michael Hussey have batted around him – something that has shielded the middle order through the tournament.


In the last game against Pakistan, the early dismissals of Watson and Warner clearly exposed the middle-order. They weren’t able to recover from the early blows and had to settle for the minimum score required for qualification through to the semi-finals. The Pakistani spinners rattled the middle-order and gave them no chance of chasing the target. Michael Hussey was the only one who fought hard and looked decent playing the spinners. That again emphasized how heavily the Australians rely on their top three.


Australia has had a classic run in this edition of World T20.George Bailey who’s leading the ‘Kangaroos’ so well that despite having lost the game against Pakistan on Tuesday, they are through to Semis because of their superior Net Run Rate of +0.464.


Apart from Watson, Warner and Michael Hussey have been doing a good job but the ones following them - White, Bailey and Maxwell - have not really spent much time at the middle. Australia might explore the option of including a senior batsman in David Hussey which means that Maxwell is likely to be the person to give way. The Aussies will be hoping for the top three to fire but if that does not happen, the ones in the middle order need to be mentally strong to handle the situation, instead of capitulating like the way they did against Pakistan.


For Australia, Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins are the front-line seamers while Watson's ability to bowl at a good pace is an added advantage. They have done a fairly good job with Watson and Starc leading the wickets column for their country. The spin options for Australia include Brad Hogg who has not been taking many wickets and Xavier Doherty who too has made good use of his opportunities by picking up wickets while all-rounders like Dan Christian and Glenn Maxwell lend variety. David Hussey is also an useful off-spinner and will have a role to play with the ball if he is included for the game. Australia will also be reviewing their bowling performance in the tournament so far against West Indies. Gayle and Samuels had blasted quick-fire half-centuries, rendering the Australian bowlers ineffective. Australia will be keen to negate the Gayle influence which will be key for Bailey and his men if they are to make it to the final stage of the competition.


In terms of batting strength, West Indies are definitely better than Australia, and having a long list of batsmen with hard-hitting prowess is a big advantage. Leading the line-up is Gayle, whose devastating effects on the opposition team is well known while Pollard, Dwayne Bravo, Samuels, Dwayne Smith and Andre Russell are match-winners in their own right. Apart from these batsmen, West Indies also have Johnson Charles, Darren Bravo and Darren Sammy, who are equally capable with the bat.


West Indies have a decent bowling line-up with Ravi Rampaul and Fidel Edwards as options for seamers and Sunil Narine and Samuel Badree providing the spin choice. West Indies also have quality all-rounders in Pollard, Dwayne Bravo and Russell apart from Sammy and Samuels to complete the bowling line-up.


The are some concerns for West Indies with the bowling line-up. One is that most of the bowlers have economy figures which are on the expensive side - Rampaul and Sammy have an economy slightly higher than 8 while Edwards has conceded 9 an over and Samuels giving away 13.4 runs an over is alarmingly high. Narine, despite having a good economy has not been providing his side with timely strikes, barring a 3 wicket haul against New Zealand. Badree too has kept it tight in the couple of opportunities that he got. However, he also does not have too many wickets to speak for. The fact that the West Indian bowlers could not defend a total of 191 in the league match against Australia, will be something Sammy and his men would be wary of. Although Australia had won that game on D/L method, West Indies conceded 100 runs in 9.1 overs, which is just the kind of showing that the Caribbean side will be hoping not to repeat. They will be eager to do things differently this time around and for that, strengthening the team with as many spin resources as possible will be a big help considering Australia recent failure against Pakistan's spinners at the R Premadasa.


Apart from batting and bowling, fielding too is a key aspect of the game. In this department, Australians are slightly ahead of the Windies. None of the Aussies lack in their fielding or catching skills and when a 41-year old Hogg can do a good job, it shows how much emphasis is laid on it. On the other hand, West Indies, despite having some good fielders like Pollard, Dwayne Bravo and a few others, also have some whose skills in this department is lacking. West Indies will be hoping that those players raise their game as a dropped chance or an extra run conceded in the field will have an impact on the match.


With better records of winning most matches so far and batting and bowling performances, Australia is clearly the statistically dominant side over West Indies. But it’s cricket and precisely T20 cricket, about which they say "It has the power of turning the situation of the match at any point of time". West Indies too have the will to rise up with an upset. Well, let’s just wait for some good cricketing moments in the upcoming 2nd Semifinal.


A win for the West Indies could do wonders for cricket in the Caribbean. It may be a shot in the arm for the sport – one that is yearning to relive past glories. While the West Indian sides of the yesteryear dominated in the classical format, a successful T20 campaign can inspire a new generation. They have to get across Australia and if they do, the favored home side awaits them in the final.


Head to head: Australia, who have played a total of 8 Twenty20 Internationals against West Indies, have emerged victorious in 5 games while ending up on the losing side in 3. In T20 World Cups, Australia have won 2 games against the Caribbean side while losing one match.


Australia (From): Shane Watson, David Warner, Michael Hussey, George Bailey (c), Cameron White, Glenn Maxwell, Matthew Wade (w), Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Brad Hogg, Xavier Doherty, Ben Hilfenhaus, David Hussey, Daniel Christian, Clint McKay


West Indies (From): Johnson Charles, Chris Gayle, Andre Russell, Marlon Samuels, Darren Bravo, Kieron Pollard, Denesh Ramdin (w), Darren Sammy (c), Sunil Narine, Samuel Badree, Ravi Rampaul, Dwayne Bravo, Dwayne Smith, Fidel Edwards, Lendl Simmons

(Article: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author only.
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