Gros Islet: Few would have expected such a scenario three games into the series, but at 1-1 after three matches West Indies have a chance at gaining the upper hand over Australia going into the fourth ODI at the Beausejour Stadium at Gros Islet.
After suffering an embarrassing 64-run loss in the series opener, West Indies bounced back to steal a low-scorer at Kingstown by five wickets, only for Kemar Roach's brain freeze in the final over of the last match to tie the scores in front of a sold-out holiday crowd. Now, with the series leveled with two matches to go, both teams have chance to seize the initiative in what has been a low-scoring but engaging series.
It wasn't perhaps expected to be so, but thanks to some sloppy batting on either side and some very good bowling the situation rests at 1-1. Both teams desperately need to address their batting, considering the highest total in three matches has been 220. Australia have crossed the 200-mark just twice, while West Indies' highest total was in equaling that score before losing their last wicket with the scores tied and three balls remaining.
Australia's coach, Mickey Arthur, has told his players to lift their game and show a ruthless streak to subdue the home team on Friday, even going as far as to say that a "We've made some bad mistakes in every game," Arthur told AAP. "We probably haven't done the basics well enough and we haven't done the one-per-centers well enough.
"We're sitting here at one-all. We're playing against a West Indies team that has never gone away, never rolled away. They seem to have a lot of spirit and they're really up for the fight, but we've certainly missed opportunities to be 2-1 ahead."
West Indies have improved since the first ODI in which they slipped from 97 for 3 to 140 all out chasing a target of 205. However, not one batsman has reached 50; the best individual score has been Kieron Pollard's unbeaten 47 to seal game two. This would be a concern for the coach Ottis Gibson, because the team has struggled to form partnerships while being susceptible to collapses. With the stakes now raised, West Indies' batsmen cannot afford to be as jittery as they have been in three matches.
The only change to their squad is the return of Adrian Barath, who replaced fellow opener Kieron Powell. Barath, 21, was recalled after he recovered from a finger injury and scored a century for Trinidad & Tobago against Guyana in the regional four-day competition. Powell has been left out after making 8, 0 and 12 in the first three ODIs.
Australia have not indicated any changes to their playing XI. That means they are likely to persist with a two-prong spin attack comprising of Xavier Doherty and Nathan Lyon on what is expected to be another slow and low surface.
West Indies: 1 Adrian Barath, 2 Johnson Charles, 3 Marlon Samuels, 4 Darren Bravo, 5 Dwayne Bravo, 6 Kieron Pollard, 7 Carlton Baugh (wk), 8 Andre Russell, 9 Darren Sammy (capt), 10 Sunil Narine, 11 Kemar Roach
Australia: 1 Shane Watson (capt), David Warner, 3 Matthew Wade (wk), 4 George Bailey, 5 Michael Hussey, 6 David Hussey, 7 Daniel Christian, 8 Brett Lee, 9 Clint McKay, 10 Xavier Doherty, 11 Nathan Lyon