West Indies vs Australia 3rd T20I Preview: With low stakes and sparse crowd, Finch & Co need to invoke national pride
Australia have lacked the intent and drive to succeed in the T20 series till now.
Australia look lost
Losing 7 wickets for 38 runs in the 1st T20I and 7 wickets for 39 runs in the 2nd T20I - this is the first time that Australia have been bowled out in successive T20Is since 2010. These are not stats that Aaron Finch and Justin Langer will love to read.
To be candid, Australia have looked a bit lost in the field, perhaps they don't consider the series important enough or perhaps, the players are missing the energy of the crowd to gee them up. The manner in which the team, particularly the batsmen, have fared in the first two matches, and more importantly their body language, the Australian players certainly need to invoke the pride of representing the nation, even if they don't see a big prize to be had.
Decision after coin flip
Australia have won the toss in both the first two T20Is. They have opted to bowl first on both occasions and have lost both the matches. That said, they should have won the first game, beyond doubt.
The team can consider a change in strategy given that their inexperienced batting line-up has crumbled under the pressure of the chase and some fine bowling from West Indies.
In the 1st T20I, when Australia reached the 50-run mark within the first four overs and could have been a lot more sensible in chasing a below-par target, they decided to go all out and lost wickets.
On the contrary, in the 2nd T20I, where they needed to maintain a run rate of almost 10 RPO throughout the innings, they chose to take singles in the middle overs. Ultimately, the pressure of the required run rate became too much to tackle.
After the loss in the 1st T20I, Australian captain Aaron Finch said that it was a plan to go hard in the middle overs, but the team needed to adjust better. The lack of intent that Australia showed in the middle overs of the 2nd T20I will be hard to justify for Finch.
This new way of deciding the approach in the dressing room is baffling. How difficult is it to assess things in the middle and play according to the situation? Must be quite tough.
Will Pollard return?
Kieron Pollard might return to lead the West Indies with a gap of one day between the second and the third T20Is. Pollard might come into the XI in place of Andre Fletcher and Chris Gayle will open, or Gale might have to miss out if West Indies persist with either Fletcher or Lewis.
It deserves mention that stand-in captain Nicholas Pooran has done his job well in the first two games.
Fidel Edwards injured himself in the 2nd T20I and might have to miss out. Obed McCoy, who was rested for the last game, is all but certain to return.
Meredith for Starc
There is little doubt that the Australian management will be looking to ring in the changes after successive losses. Mitchell Starc has been very expensive in the first two T20Is and might have to make way for Riley Meredith. Somebody like Jason Behrendorff gets ample swing from his left arm angle and can also be considered.
With his assortment of slower deliveries, Andrew Tye can be a handful on these West Indian pitches and is not a bad option either.
In the batting line-up, Ashton Turner can be tried in place of Ben McDermott.
More than the personnel, it is the intent which is troubling Australia. They have to pull up their socks and compete like Australia have always done. The team needs to find their purpose and fashion motivation if it isn't coming to them automatically.
Here's a look at the probable playing XIs:
West Indies - Lendl Simmons, Chris Gayle, Shimron Hetmyer, Nicholas Pooran (wk), Kieron Pollard (c), Andre Russell, Dwayne Bravo, Fabian Allen, Hayden Walsh, Obed McCoy, Sheldon Cottrell
Australia - Aaron Finch (c), Matthew Wade (wk), Mitchell Marsh, Josh Philippe, Moises Henriques, Ashton Turner, Daniel Christian, Ashton Agar, Riley Meredith, Adam Zampa, Josh Hazlewood
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