West Indies look to returning Bravo for spark
Wednesday, March 10
Start time 09:30 (13:30 GMT)
The Big Picture
West Indies' downward one-day curve got a much needed lift on Saturday, when the hosts beat Zimbabwe by four wickets to level the series. It was their first victory in an international fixture since August last year, and the relief on their faces was palpable. It was also indicative of how hard the last few months have been for them, but as they approach the third ODI in Kingstown the momentum is still not entirely with them. It means the series is now locked at 1-1 and Wednesday's match will put one team within a win of taking the series.
West Indies have struggled so far in the matches against Zimbabwe, labouring to victory in the second game after losing the Twenty20 and the first ODI. What will give them confidence though is the return of the key allrounder Dwayne Bravo, whose presence - despite having not played for nearly three months - will almost certainly lift the team. West Indies' most valuable one-day player, Bravo adds depth to a shaky batting order and his bowling, most notably subtle variations of pace, can do real damage.
The comments of head coach Ottis Gibson on Bravo's return underline the influence of the star allrounder. "He has only just come back and already you can feel the energy he brings. He is a very important player and already the players have perked up with him around," was Gibson's assessment, and it shows just how Bravo can strengthen West Indies as a team.
On the other side, going into a crucial game, Zimbabwe have been hurt by the departure of fast bowler Kyle Jarvis with a stress fracture. Though Jarvis had not featured in any of the three international games on the tour so far, his departure leaves Zimbabwe's pace bowling reserves looking a little thin. Chris Mpofu leaked 30 runs in four wayward overs during West Indies' win in the second ODI, and although Shingi Masakadza held his nerve in a tense final over in the first game in Guyana, he too was expensive. Zimbabwe's batting fell away in the second ODI, and that was one of the reasons behind their loss. They will hope the surface at Kingstown will be more suitable for batting and look to their top order to come good.
Form guide(last five completed matches, most recent first)
West Indies - WLLLL
Zimbabwe - LWLLL
Watch out for...
Darren Bravo: If he gets a chance to add to the four ODI caps he picked up during the homes series against India after the World Twenty20 last year, this highly-rated young batsman is one to keep an eye on. After his debut innings, a cameo 19, Darren drew comparisons to Brian Lara, for the similarity in technique as well as looks. The style is there, no doubt, but the substance needs to be forthcoming.
Tatenda Taibu: Zimbabwe urgently need him firing in his all-round capacity if they are to combat West Indies' growing confidence. Taibu has shown promising form in the two ODIs so far but needs to get himself in for a big innings should Zimbabwe happen to bat first. The middle order has been shaky and the tourists cannot afford to leave it all to the gung-ho Elton Chigumbura at No. 7.
The out-of-form Andre Fletcher, who has six ducks in his previous eight innings for West Indies, and allrounder Dwayne Smith have been dropped. Fletcher's axing means that Denesh Ramdin, the regular wicketkeeper over the past few years, who was benched after a string of poor batting performances, is likely to return to the first XI. Dwayne Bravo will certainly feature, but the management will need to take a call on whether Darren gets a game. Both Adrian Barath and David Bernard jnr have failed to fire so Darren could slot in as opener or No. 3 if one of them makes way.
West Indies: (probable) 1 Chris Gayle (capt), 2 Adrian Barath/Darren Bravo, 3 Dwayne Bravo, 4 Shivnarine Chanderpaul, 5 Narsingh Deonarine, 6 Kieron Pollard, 7 Denesh Ramdin (wk), 8 Darren Sammy, 9 Sulieman Benn, 10 Nikita Miller, 11 Kemar Roach.
The Zimbabweans have not let on about any changes to their XI.
Zimbabwe: 1 Hamilton Masakadza, 2 Vusi Sibanda, 3 Brendan Taylor, 4 Tatenda Taibu (wk), 5 Stuart Matsikenyeri, 6 Greg Lamb, 7 Elton Chigumbura, 8 Graeme Cremer, 9 Prosper Utseya (capt), 10 Ray Price, 11 Chris Mpofu.
Pitch and conditions
The pitch at the Arnos Vale Multiplex is notoriously slow and low, which means Zimbabwe's band of merry slow bowlers will again favour themselves against a susceptible West Indian line-up. The weather is forecast to be just fine.
The Arnos Vale Multiplex has been kind to West Indies in the 17 matches they have played here. The home team has won 14 of the matches, but two of their three losses have come in the last two ODIs at the ground, where Pakistan won by 59 runs five years ago, and Australia triumphed by 84 runs two years ago.
Stats and trivia
- West Indies have won 14 of 17 matches played at this venue, but two of their three losses have come in the last two ODIs at the ground. Pakistan beat them by 59 runs five years ago, and Australia won by 84 runs in 2008.
- West Indies' run-rate at Arnos Vale is a lofty 4.66. Zimbabwe have yet to play here.
"I have not seen much of Darren, but I know a lot has been said about him. I threw a few balls to him in the nets and he looks a very good player."
Ottis Gibson is also aware of what the other Bravo has to offer.
Jamie Alter is a senior sub-editor at Cricinfo