Pressure builds on Gayle's men
Friday, February 12, SCG
Start time 1325 (0325 GMT)
The Big PictureAt the start of the series Chris Gayle tipped a 4-1 win for West Indies, but given their predicament he would probably settle for 1-4. Calling the tourists out-classed in the opening exchanges is being polite to guests and if they lose in Sydney on Friday the five-game contest will be decided with two matches spare.
After West Indies' fight in the Test series earlier in the season, the follow-up campaign has been hugely disappointing, although Gayle hasn't been helped by a batch of injuries which kept many of his best men at home. Batting has been the most serious problem, with the tourists managing 143 on the way to a 113-run loss in Melbourne, and 170 in Adelaide after being 4 for 16. The second game, which was watched by only 8378 spectators, was finished in the 27th over of the chase.
Australia have been outstanding throughout the limited-overs segment of the summer and are on a 10-match winning streak. With a 2-0 lead, the hosts have been able to rest key players in Shane Watson and Brad Haddin, but there won't be any relief for West Indies as the locals pursue an undefeated summer.
Form guide (most recent first)Australia WWWWW
West Indies LLLLL
Watch out for...Everything for West Indies currently revolves around Chris Gayle. The match in Adelaide was basically over after Gayle's first-ball departure and he must find a way to escape from the restrictions Australia have placed on him. Over the past week Gayle has remained cheery and upbeat in public but in his private moments he must feel like a one-man band. He is so important that at the moment the scenario is Gayle out, game over.
Ricky Ponting has run into some good form with scores of 55, 49 and 57 not out in his past three games, but will be wanting more. With his developing team doing incredibly well, he can relax at the crease, which isn't a good thing for the opposition bowlers. He pulled Kemar Roach in Adelaide, showing he is not haunted by the fast man's short balls which got him in the Perth Test, and will look to sign off with a century to seal the series.
Team newsThe wicketkeeper Tim Paine and Adam Voges come into the squad for Shane Watson and Brad Haddin, who are resting. Paine has opened in 14 of his 15 ODIs and will slot in with Shaun Marsh at the top. With Watson out, Australia could play all four fast men and Nathan Hauritz, which would leave James Hopes and Voges to miss out.
Australia (possible) 1 Shaun Marsh, 2 Tim Paine (wk), 3 Ricky Ponting (capt), 4 Michael Clarke, 5 Cameron White, 6 Michael Hussey, 7 Mitchell Johnson, 8 Ryan Harris, 9 Nathan Hauritz, 10 Clint McKay, 11 Doug Bollinger.
West Indies were unchanged in the second game but after two horrible defeats will have to do something to spruce up the side. Gayle has talked about needing some substance in the middle order, which could give Brendan Nash an opening, while Wavell Hinds is another option, possibly for the struggling Runako Morton.
West Indies (possible) 1 Chris Gayle (capt), 2 Wavell Hinds, 3 Travis Dowlin, 4 Narsingh Deonarine, 5 Brendan Nash, 6 Denesh Ramdin (wk), 7 Kieron Pollard, 8 Dwayne Smith, 9 Nikita Miller, 10 Ravi Rampaul, 11 Kemar Roach.
Pitch and conditionsPakistan chose to bowl first at the SCG last month and were rolled for 127 in their chase as the bowlers took advantage of seaming conditions. It has been another wet lead-up and there are storms predicted for Friday afternoon, along with a maximum of 31C. If that happens the bowlers will be happy again.
Stats and trivia
- West Indies' top six batsmen have scored 150 runs in the past two games while Australia's top four have managed 310
- Only one game at the SCG has been won by the batting side from the final ball of the 50th over. That came in 1995-96 when Michael Bevan starred against West Indies
- West Indies have twice scored fewer than 100 at the SCG, with 87 in 1992-93 and 91 in 2000-01
Quotes"At 2-0 down in a five-match series, this is the time for some of our players to come of age."
"Every time we start a series that's our goal, to go undefeated. It's no different in this series. We played really well against Pakistan. We gave them nothing and we'll be doing that against the West Indies."
Shaun Marsh, Australia's opening batsman
Peter English is the Australasia editor of Cricinfo© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.