West Indies vs Australia 4th T20I Preview: Things look bleak for Australia as Universe Boss roars back to form
Australia's batting will have to produce the goods to avoid the embarrassment of a whitewash.
Australia's poor batting
When you go from 89/3 to 127 all out in the first T20I, gifting a match that should have been won with 5 overs to spare, lose 7 wickets for 39 runs in the second T20I and follow up with another dismal batting display in the third match, what you deserve is to lose the series and this is exactly what has happened to Australia.
They are trailing 0-3 in the five-match series as the threat of a whitewash looms large.
Apart from the 2nd T20I, when the Australian bowlers got some tap, they have bowled well by and large. However, it is the Australian batting which continues to disappoint.
Aaron Finch and Matthew Wade added 41 runs from five overs for the first wicket in the 3rd T20I but as soon as the opening partnership was broken, it was clear that Australia lacked the quality and temperament in the middle order.
Their hero of the first two matches, Mitchell Marsh could not strike a third consecutive T20 half century. Moises Henriques flattered to deceive for his 33 off 29 balls but could not go on to make anything substantial. Ashton Turner, despite being at the crease for 22 balls, could make only 24.
Australia were at least 30 short against a star-studded West Indian batting line up. If the visitors continue to produce such batting displays, they cannot expect to win.
New personnel, same result
What's worse is that in the absence of their star players on this tour, they do not have a lot of players to experiment with. The team already included left hander Alex Carey in place of Josh Philippe and Ashton Turner in place of Ben McDermott but that did not seem to have any impact on their batting line-up.
Riley Meredith, who was picked in place of spinner Ashton Agar did a fine job, picking up three wickets. He did get some tap from the Universe Boss Chris Gayle and ended up conceding 48 runs from his 3.5 overs, but Australia will not mind that too much till he continues to pick up wickets.
Chris Gayle back among the runs, and how
Chris Gayle was running short of runs in T20 Internationals for a long time now. The last time he made a score of note was an unbeaten century against England in the 2016 T20 World Cup. Since then, he had not managed even a half century. His highest score from 2018 onwards was 32 not out against South Africa in June this year and he needed some runs to continue being in the mix for the upcoming T20 World Cup.
Chris Gayle did that in some style, smashing 67 runs from just 38 deliveries with 4 fours and 7 sixes. He batted in classic Chris Gayle style, going at a strike rate of 176.32 and will take a lot of confidence from this knock.
Gayle did not mince his words after receiving the Player of the Match award in the 3rd T20I as he became the first cricketer on earth to 14,000 T20 runs.
The massive impact that a firing Gayle has is evident. West Indies have struggled in the recent past to bat consistently and when Gayle is among the runs, the makeup of the batting line-up looks completely different.
While Australia are unlikely to make any changes to their playing XI, West Indies will look to give Akeal Hosein, Oshane Thomas and Kevin Sinclair an opportunity. Evin Lewis might also be back at the top of the order.
Injuries to both Obed McCoy and Fidel Edwards would have been a setback for West Indies if the series had been tight, but with the fate of the series already decided, they can afford to take it easy.
Here's a look at the probable playing XIs:
West Indies - Andre Fletcher/Lendl Simmons, Evin Lewis, Chris Gayle, Shimron Hetmyer, Nicholas Pooran (c & wk), Andre Russell, Dwayne Bravo, Fabian Allen/Hayden Walsh, Oshane Thomas, Kevin Sinclair, Sheldon Cottrell
Australia - Aaron Finch (c), Matthew Wade (wk), Mitchell Marsh, Alex Carey, Moises Henriques, Ashton Turner, Daniel Christian, Mitchell Starc, Riley Meredith, Adam Zampa, Josh Hazlewood
© Cricket World 2021