Here we are – The two teams will now battle for the final glory. The tri-series played across three Caribbean countries – Guyana, St Kitts and Nevis, and Barbados – has thrown out its bronze the third contender, with South Africa going back home after a painful defeat to West Indies on Friday. That means, the final at Kensington Oval will be played between Australia, the World Cup champions of last year, and West Indies, current World T20 champions, a team which has enjoyed very limited ODI success over the past few years.
If they lift this trophy it would be welcome news for West Indies cricket in a year that has given enough joy to the hearts of Caribbean cricket fanatics. It would also bring an encouraging sign to the leadership quality of Jason Holder (it was Darren Sammy who captained West Indies to the World T20 title). So far, 2016 has seen success for West Indies in the World T20, Women’s World T20, and Under-19 World Cup.
For Australia, the No. 1 ODI team right now, winning a series like this might seems business as usual. But this Aussie side still has a long way to go. Only six of the eleven squad members who won the World Cup final will play in this final. Even caretaker coach Justin Langer admits this Steven Smith led young ODI team is now trying their best to make a mark.
Mitchell Starc will play a vital role to dismantle the Caribbean batting order. He has become an intriguing part of the Australian side. Since the start of 2015, Australia have won 90% of ODIs in which Starc ran with full steam (18 wins from 20 completed games) and only 45% of ODIs in which he was not there (5 wins from 11 games). The highly energetic fast bowler has the potential to literally double Australia’s success rates. Only twice Starc couldn’t win the match for his team.played in losses.
The World Cup match against New Zeeland in Auckland, where he scalped 6 for 28 and could hardly have done any more, and against England in Manchester last September when he endured a rare bad day and went for 79 off 10 overs. You can definitely put aside these two matches when you count on his immense success rate. Starc is also two wickets short to become the fastest player in history to claim 100 ODI wickets.
Meanwhile, a lot will depend on Shannon Gabriel. Despite making his ODI debut only two matches ago, this Windies pacer has already made an impact. His terrific pace and bounce rattled the Proteas top order during the knockout clash on Friday, his three early wickets left star-studded batting unit at 28 for 3. However, Gabriel picked up a leg injury and could bowl only five overs before he left the field for treatment. He didn’t bowl again in that match and West Indies are hoping for Gabriel’s full fitness ahead of the titan clash.
If Gabriel is fully fit, West Indies will most likely go for an unchanged eleven. Holder was quite impressive as he collected 1 for 33 from his economical 10 overs against South Africa, just three days after he tweaked a hamstring in Australia match. Pollard also has been carrying a hand injury throughout the tournament but it’s nothing serious.
Australia’s batting order looks well settled and their main selection puzzle remains whether to bring back the young leggie Adam Zampa for some significant variety in the bowling attack. Zampa happens to be their leading wicket-taker in the series and yet was left out of the previous two matches after conceding some vital runs against West Indies in the game prior to that. If Zampa gets the nod then Scott Boland would be the man most probably to sit out.
West Indies Predicted Eleven: 1 Andre Fletcher, 2 Johnson Charles, 3 Darren Bravo, 4 Marlon Samuels, 5 Denesh Ramdin (wk), 6 Kieron Pollard, 7 Jason Holder (capt), 8 Carlos Brathwaite, 9 Sunil Narine, 10 Sulieman Benn, 11 Shannon Gabriel
Australia Predicted Eleven: 1 Aaron Finch, 2 Usman Khawaja, 3 Steven Smith (capt), 4 George Bailey, 5 Glenn Maxwell, 6 Mitchell Marsh, 7 Matthew Wade (wk), 8 James Faulkner, 9 Mitchell Starc, 10 Adam Zampa, 11 Josh Hazlewood
Pitch and conditions
The two completed matches at Kensington Oval this series have witnessed first-innings totals in the 280s. The forecast for Sunday is for fine weather and a high of 28 degrees centigrade.