In the space of barely 24 hours this series is potentially one match away from being decided. Australia need to win to keep things alive, a position they found themselves in on the New Zealand tour which will give them some encouragement that a rebound is possible but West Indies’ confidence will be high after their two victories.
West Indies have a few problems at the top of the order, but the way they built a big total on Saturday with the 103-run stand between Shimron Hetmyer and Dwayne Bravo, with a sprinkling of Andre Russell at the end, followed by their performance with the ball was clinical.
Australia were anything but. And while there is perhaps some mitigation that can be handed to them it is worth remembering what England are achieving against Pakistan having had to select an entirely new side. However, with key names missing, more is needed from Aaron Finch and Mitchell Starc.
Though he has yet to feature due to injury, the pre-series words of Kieron Pollard where he called for patience with Hetmyer and Nicholas Pooran are carrying some weight. Hetmyer has now produced the highest score of his T20I innings and Pooran is riding at 100% as captain.
(last five completed matches)
West Indies WWLWL
In the spotlight
Hayden Walsh Jr can have the occasional problem controlling his length but Australia are finding him a handful. The visitors might benefit from having another left hander in the middle order, but the only option in the squad would be Alex Carey. With six wickets in two matches Walsh is well placed to challenge Bravo’s haul of 10 from the previous series against South Africa.
Mitchell Starc‘s figures after two games are not pretty: 8-0-89-0. Before this series, he had not conceded more than two sixes in any T20 game. In the first T20I, he was hit for three and second five sixes – the joint second-most an Australia quick bowler has been hit for in an innings. However, he is generally a player who gets better with more work after a lay-off.
If Pollard remains unfit Pooran will continue to lead the side. Fidel Edwards picked up an arm injury in the second match so Obed McCoy would be a likely replacement after being rested although if they want a right-armer Oshane Thomas is part of the squad.
West Indies (possible) 1 Lendl Simmons, 2 Andre Fletcher, 3 Chris Gayle, 4 Shimron Hetmyer, 5 Dwayne Bravo, 6 Andre Russell, 7 Nicholas Pooran (capt & wk), 8 Fabian Allen, 9 Hayden Walsh Jr, 10 Obed McCoy, 11 Sheldon Cottrell
Australia’s senior assistant coach Andrew McDonald floated the notion of strengthening the specialist pace-bowling although that would require a change of balance to the side unless Ashton Agar was left out. Jason Behrendorff, Riley Meredith and the uncapped Wes Agar are the other fast bowlers in the squad. Ashton Turner, who is more of a specialist middle-order batter, could be an option to replace Ben McDermott.
Australia (possible) 1 Aaron Finch, 2 Matthew Wade (wk), 3 Mitchell Marsh, 4 Josh Philippe, 5 Moises Henriques, 6 Ben McDermott/Ashton Turner, 7 Dan Christian, 8 Ashton Agar, 9 Mitchell Starc, 10 Adam Zampa, 11 Josh Hazlewood
Pitch and conditions
There will be a new surface for the third match of the series. McDonald admitted that conditions had been different to what Australia had initially expected for this series with more pace and carry in the pitches. The strong crosswind has also been a significant factor which West Indies have used to good effect. The forecast is for a dry evening.
Stats and trivia
- Australia have lost 7 for 38 and 7 for 39 in the first two matches of the series
- Chris Gayle’s T20I average has fallen below 30 for the first time since the third match of his career in 2007
“I think it was one of my best T20 innings. I think I paced it quite well. It really worked out well for me with the guys backing me to be the guy to just take it as deep as possible.”
Shimron Hetmyer after his Player-of-the-Match display
“Disappointing we could get the chase done but the understand was we learnt a lot of that. Game two, we were just outplayed. That’s one in the T20 format, you put a lot of planning and prep into it, they just outdid us. They put us under great pressure with the ball. Can happen in T20 where you have the blowout.”
Australia’s senior assistant coach Andrew McDonald sums up the series so far
Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo
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