Both Australia and West Indies have made strong start to their World Cup campaign. While Australia brushed aside the Afghanistan challenge without much trouble, West Indies absolutely demolished Pakistan in their opening game. West Indies with their powerful batting line up led by Chris Gayle are a threat which no team can take lightly in this competition. The West Indies team is loaded with power hitters and with the likes of Shimron Hetmyer, Nicholas Pooran and Andre Russell in the line-up, they can demolish any bowling attack on their day. They are not all power though as the classy Shai Hope and Darren Bravo provide the right amount of balance to their batting.
The bowling attack of West Indies though is one dimensional. While they have some exciting pace bowlers in their squad their spin bowling options are pretty thin. Ashley Nurse plays as the spin bowling all-rounder but again they do not have any wrist spinners in their squad to play as an attacking option. West Indies pace attack though led by the pacy Oshane Thomas can trouble any team if they get a pitch suiting their style. They do have Shannon Gabriel and Kemar Roach in their squad as well who are quick and can be a handful on any surface. The West Indies are an exciting team and they are the dark horse to make the final four in this tournament.
The Australian team on the other hand is possibly the most balanced unit in the whole competition. They began this event by winning both their practice games and saw off a spirited Afghanistan pretty easily. The Australian batting line up is extremely strong and with the return of Steven Smith and David Warner they look like the team to beat in this competition. The Australian bowling attack as well is excellent with Mitchell Starc leading the pace attack. Pat Cummins who has been wonderful for Australia over the last couple of years in all formats of the game makes their attack one of the best new ball combinations in the World Cup. Australia also have two excellent spinners in Adam Zampa and Nathan Lyon in the midst to complement their excellent pace attack.
Head to Head:
Australia have been a dominant side over years over all the teams and that hasn’t been much different in the case of West Indies as well. In the World Cups though West Indies have a slight edge over Australia with a 5-4 Win/Loss record.
Steven Smith (Australia): Steven Smith is Australia’s best batsman. Even though he hasn’t played much international cricket recently he will be critical to Australia’s success not only against West Indies but in the rest of the tournament as well. Smith has a good ODI record and against West Indies he averages 51 in the 5 matches he has played against them. He does offer stability to the Aussie batting line up as he can effectively mix attack with defense and has a great match awareness.
Adam Zampa (Australia): Even though Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins are brilliant new ball bowlers, West Indies’s trouble with spin over the years means that Adam Zampa will be critical in the middle overs. Zampa has been bowling pretty well in recent times and in the 3 games he has played against West Indies he has an average of 21 with an economy rate of 5.6.
Shai Hope (West Indies): Shai Hope has been the best ODI bat for West Indies in a long time. Hope averages 50 with the bat in this format and even though he hasn’t played a game against Australia so far, his solidity at the top order has been the reason for West Indies success in the ODI format. He was brilliant in India last year and also did well at home against England earlier this year. He will be expected to anchor the West Indies batting so that the power hitters can bat around him.
Andre Russell (West Indies): Andre Russell has been in wonderful form in recent times. In the game against Pakistan he showed that he is not only a fierce hitter lower down the order, he can also be extremely effective with the ball. He not only bowled quick but also was accurate and executed the bouncer strategy to perfection against Pakistan. Since West Indies have hinted that they would use similar tactics against Australia he will be an important part of that plan.
What they said?
“Every game there is thoughts about playing Nathan Lyon, but Adam Zampa is doing a really good job for us. Adam Zampa is a very good spinner. (Off-spinning allrounder) Glenn Maxwell is bowling well, so hopefully we have some balance there.” – Coach Justin Langer on the possibility of playing Nathan Lyon against West Indies.
“Obviously, no one likes a ball, 140, 145km/h at your head, so that’s why the bouncer has been a favourite tactic thus far. But you can only bowl two an over and the other four need to be spot on,” Brathwaite said.
David Warner, Aaron Finch (capt), Usman Khawaja, Steven Smith, Glenn Maxwell Marcus Stoinis, Alex Carey (WKT), Nathan Coulter-Nile, Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Adam Zampa
West Indies Xi:
Chris Gayle, Shai Hope (WKT), Darren Bravo, Nicholas Pooran. Shimron Hetmyer, Andre Russell, Jason Holder, Carlos Brathwaite, Ashley Nurse, Sheldon Cottrell, Oshane Thomas
While this is expected to be an interesting contest, you would still expect the Aussies to prevail in this match up. West Indies though aren’t going to go away lightly and the game is going to be a close one. The Australian line up though at this point seems more balanced and settled at the moment and they have been in great form recently. West Indies though can surprise anyone on their day and if their top order fires, they will be a handful against any opposition and will be hard to restrict.