Even though all ODIs in the World Cup Super League now carry the importance of points, it is still good to have a series decider and that’s what’s on offer in Barbados. It is also an example of the flexibility needed in these times with the final match of the series pushed back two days after the Covid scare.
It shapes as being a battle between two fallible batting line-ups: in the opening match West Indies were 27 for 6 then 123 all out, in the second Australia were 45 for 6 and West Indies 72 for 5 before recovering to take victory. The conditions are not easy for batting, and especially strokeplay, so it may not be a high-scoring encounter.
West Indies’ spinners have proved highly effective with Hayden Walsh Jr taking five in the first match and Akeal Hosein three (in the space of six balls) in the second. Australia have largely lent on their fast bowlers, with Mitchell Starc being outstanding, but that will likely have to be altered for the decider which could test the balance of their side.
With attention turning back to T20 World Cup preparation after this series it will be a while before the teams return to ODI cricket. West Indies’ next matches in the format are yet to be confirmed while Australia wait until late January when they are due to face New Zealand at home.
(last five completed matches)
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In the spotlight
Evin Lewis has been given a working over by Starc in the first two games. He’s not the first and won’t be the last to suffer that fate, but it means that West Indies are losing one of their impact players early. He fell first ball in the opening game when he got a leading edge to the bowler and in the second was pinned lbw having already been saved by the DRS from a caught behind.
Time might be running out for Moises Henriques to stake a claim for a long-term return to Australia’s white-ball set-up although Aaron Finch’s injury limits options with the batting line-up. He struggled for tempo during the T20Is and has been dismissed cheaply twice by Hosein in the ODIs. It has been surprising not to see him be given a single over on tour, particularly on surfaces where his medium-pace cutters might have been effective.
There has been some debate around Jason Mohammed’s position, but Kieron Pollard explained that with him currently unable to bowl Mohammed provides useful extra overs – especially in spin-friendly conditions.
West Indies (possible) 1 Evin Lewis, 2 Shai Hope (wk), 3 Darren Bravo, 4 Jason Mohammed, 5 Nicholas Pooran (wk), 6 Kieron Pollard (capt), 7 Jason Holder, 8 Alzarri Joseph, 9 Akeal Hosein, 10 Hayden Walsh Jr, 11 Sheldon Cottrell
Alex Carey gave a strong indication a second frontline spinner would be included with Ashton Agar, now recovered from a hamstring injury, likely to be favoured over legspinner Mitchell Swepson although the latter would be an attacking choice. Josh Hazlewood is available again after he was eventually rested in the delayed second game. Ben McDermott is in some doubt after hurting his ankle crashing through the advertising boards which would further stretch Australia’s batting resources and potentially mean a recall for Dan Christian, who hasn’t played a List A for nearly four years, plus a reshuffle of the order.
Australia (possible) 1 Ben McDermott, 2 Josh Philippe, 3 Mitchell Marsh, 4 Moises Henriques, 5 Alex Carey (capt & wk), 6 Ashton Turner, 7 Matthew Wade, 8 Ashton Agar/Mitchell Swepson, 9 Mitchell Starc, 10 Adam Zampa, 11 Josh Hazlewood
Pitch and conditions
The same pitch that was used for the second match will be used for the decider which could make things very tricky for the batters. The forecast is fine and sunny.
Stats and trivia
West Indies have not beaten Australia in a bilateral ODI series since 1995
Mitchell Starc currently has eight wickets in the series. The most he has taken in three matches in a bilateral series is 11, also against West Indies in 2012-13.
“We just need to find a way to string partnerships together. It’s clear that the Aussies are really hurting us in the first 10-15 overs so to see off that period and once we string partnerships we’ll set up the game nicely. I definitely think we can get across the line.”
“Ready for the opportunity tomorrow to win a series for Australia. Having just had our team meeting I can see the excitement on the boy’s faces to bounce back from the other night, where we still played some really good cricket and [being] in the game defending 187 is a huge credit to the players. But now very exciting to rock up tomorrow to Kensington Oval with the opportunity to win a final.
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