Australia v West Indies, 2nd semi-final, World T20, Colombo October 4, 2012

In-form Australia the favourites

Australia's all-round consistency clearly gives them an advantage over West Indies who have blown hot and cold in their matches against top teams

For almost a decade, West Indies have languished at the bottom of the Test and ODI rankings and struggled to pose a consistent threat to the top teams in these formats. However, in Twenty20 matches, West Indies' explosive batting line-up and volatile nature have worked to their advantage. Despite not winning a World Twenty20 tournament yet, West Indies have managed to upset Australia (2009) and India (2009 and 2010). In this World Twenty20, West Indies' form has fluctuated wildly. In the group stage, they batted superbly to post 191 against Australia but were ordinary with the ball and went down in a rain-curtailed game. Following a win and loss against England and Sri Lanka respectively, West Indies hauled themselves up to edge New Zealand in a Super Over and ensured qualification for the last four. Australia, who came into the tournament ranked shockingly low, have been clinical so far except in their last game against Pakistan. Given that they got the better of West Indies and came through a tougher Super Eights group, Australia are likely to start favourites in the fourth clash between the two sides in the World Twenty20.

Before the tournament started, Australia were hardly given a chance considering they had tasted very little success in the matches after the 2010 World Twenty20. But the story in tournament has been completely different. Australia cruised through the group stage with wins over West Indies and Ireland before stamping their authority against India and South Africa. Overall though, Australia's win-loss record in the format (30-26) is hardly awe inspiring. In the subcontinent, they have found it even harder winning five and losing seven matches. West Indies have lost more than they have won (19-23) overall and struggled to perform in the subcontinent too winning two and losing three matches.

Record of both teams in Twenty20 internationals
  Australia (matches played) Australia (wins/losses) * West Indies (matches played) West Indies (wins/losses) *
Overall 57 30/26 43 19/23*
Since Jan 2010 33 19/14 25 10/14
In subcontinent (including UAE) 12 5/7 6 2/3

West Indies ran out comfortable winners in the first two meetings between the two teams in 2008 and 2009. In the second game played at The Oval during the 2009 World Twenty20, Chris Gayle destroyed Australia's bowling with a brilliant 88 off 50 balls. However, in the two subsequent meetings in the World Twenty20, Australia emerged on top. Although Australia hold the edge overall (5-3), West Indies will be buoyed by the fact that the teams have been level (3-3) in matches played in West Indies and neutral venues. While the average difference (difference between batting and bowling averages) has been better for Australia throughout, the run-rate difference (difference between batting run-rate and economy rate) has been in favour of West Indies in World Twenty20 matches and home games.

Australia's record v West Indies in Twenty20 internationals
  Played Wins/Losses W/L ratio Bat avg/Bowl avg Avg diff Bat rr/Bowl rr rr diff
Overall 8 5/3 1.66 30.41/20.69 0.82 8.66/8.06 0.60
Home 2 2/0 - 32.10/18.60 13.50 10.13/6.97 3.16
Away/neutral 6 3/3 1.00 29.76/21.46 8.30 8.17/8.48 -0.31
World Twenty20 3 2/1 2.00 31.50/22.28 9.22 8.30/8.53 -0.23

Shane Watson, who has won the most Man-of-the-Match awards, has been in superlative form in the tournament so far scoring three half-centuries in five matches. Such has been Australia's dependence on him that in the only game he failed (against Pakistan), Australia lost by a big margin of 32 runs. Watson and David Warner have proved to be extremely dangerous in Twenty20 internationals and hold the record for the most century partnerships (3) including two in the World Twenty20. Their terrific run is reflected in Australia's stats in the first six-over period. In contrast, West Indies have had problems at the start of their innings and average much lower in the same period. However, West Indies' average and run-rate in the middle overs (7-14) are nearly as good as Australia's. In the final six-over period, Australia are comfortably ahead of West Indies on the batting front.

Australia's pace attack has been responsible for giving them early breakthroughs. Their average (17.90) and economy rate (6.56) are much better than the corresponding numbers for West Indies in the first six-over period. As with the batting, West Indies have matched Australia in the middle overs (7-14) on the bowling front. Australia's dominance extends to the bowling in the final overs too. In the final six-over period, Australia have an economy rate of 8.80 while West Indies have a much higher figure of 9.49.

Team's record in various phases of an innings in the World Twenty20
  Australia (bat avg, bat rr) West Indies (bat avg, bat rr) Australia (bowl avg, bowl rr) West Indies (bowl avg, bowl rr)
Overs 1-6 55.25/7.36 30.00/7.50 17.90/6.56 30.71/7.16
Overs 7-14 38.00/8.64 35.14/7.68 41.14/7.20 45.50/7.76
Overs 15-20 52.50/9.00 14.13/9.02 17.60/8.80 29.00/9.49

In Watson and Gayle, Australia and West Indies have two of the most destructive openers in Twenty20 internationals. Both players have performed consistently in domestic and international matches with Gayle in particular leading the run charts in the last two IPL seasons. Overall, there is little to choose between the two players in terms of their average and strike rate. Gayle, however, is slightly ahead in terms of the boundary-run percentage (71.25%). The West Indian opener dominates the numbers in the first innings. He averages 42.21 batting first while Watson has managed just 26.93. Gayle's scoring rate (9.11) in the first innings is also better than Watson's corresponding number (8.65). The stats are however reversed in the second innings. Watson has been exceptionally prolific in chases with an average of 37.93 and scoring rate of 9.20. In comparison, Gayle has struggled averaging 28.18 and scoring at 8.15. Overall, Gayle has outperformed Watson in the World Twenty20 but the Australian opener has by far been the better batsman in this edition of the tournament with 242 runs in five innings at an average and scoring rate of 60.50 and 9.24 respectively.

Shane Watson and Chris Gayle in Twenty20 internationals
  Shane Watson (Runs/avg) Chris Gayle (Runs/avg) Shane Watson (SR/boun%) Chris Gayle (SR/boun%)
Overall 973/32.43 901/36.04 8.96/68.65 8.76/71.25
Batting first 404/26.93 591/42.21 8.65/65.34 9.11/71.74
chasing 569/37.93 310/28.18 9.20/71.00 8.15/70.32
World Twenty20 overall 427/32.84 586/41.85 8.77/66.04 9.27/72.69
World Twenty20 2012 242/60.50 144/36.00 9.24/66.94 9.49/80.55

Although the West Indies openers have been impressive in patches, they have been unable to maintain the consistency that Watson and Warner have. The Australian openers have aggregated 372 runs at 46.50 while maintaining a strike rate of 144.74. West Indies, on the other hand, have been moderately successful scoring 250 runs at an average of 31.25 and strike rate of 137.36. Hussey has scored 137 runs in four innings at No.3 while being dismissed just once. West Indies have a better strike rate and boundary percentage for positions 3 and 4 but have lost a higher number of wickets. With Australia hardly being stretched, the lower middle-order batsmen (No.5 to 7) have had very little to do. West Indies, however, have struggled losing eight wickets in four innings and average just 17.50 across these three batting positions.

Batting stats for both teams in the tournament
Batting position Australia (Runs/average) Australia (SR, boun%) West Indies (Runs/average) West Indies (SR, boun%)
1-2 372/46.50 144.74/67.74 250/31.25 137.36/76.00
3-4 199/99.50 121.34/50.25 189/23.62 122.72/66.67
5-7 35/11.66 92.10/40.00 140/17.50 118.64/48.57

Watson has clearly been the impact player of the tournament leading both the runs and wickets tally. Mitchell Starc has swung the ball at pace and picked up nine wickets at an excellent economy rate of just 6.60. Among all teams, Australia's pace bowlers have been the most successful picking up 25 wickets at an average of 19.61 and economy rate of 7.61. The West Indies pace bowlers have had a tough time with just nine wickets at 41.44 (economy rate of 8.44). However, the West Indies spinners, led by Sunil Narine, have been more successful (nine wickets at 28.90) than the Australian slow bowlers (seven wickets at 34.14).

Pace v spin for the two teams in the tournament
Team Bowler type Wickets Average Econ rate
Australia Pace 25 19.61 7.61
West Indies Pace 9 41.44 8.44
Australia Spin 7 34.14 7.24
West Indies Spin 9 28.90 7.34

Madhusudhan Ramakrishnan is a sub-editor (stats) at ESPNcricinfo