Australia look to shake off cobwebs against Windies
Oz go into Tuesday's match in dire need of match practice, having been out of the loop for five months.india Updated: Sep 11, 2006 20:24 IST
Australia go into Tuesday's limited overs showdown against the West Indies in dire need of match practice, having been out of the international loop for five months.
They last played an international series in Bangladesh in April and will be hoping to shake off the cobwebs quickly against Brian Lara's West Indies in the opening game of a tri-series tournament that also involves India.
Glenn McGrath returns for the Australians after being out of action since January to help his wife get over breast cancer as the three teams limber up for the ICC Champions Trophy next month in India.
The 34-year-old is using the one-dayers at Kinrara Oval here as part of Australia's preparations not just for the Champions Trophy but the Ashes series against England in November.
"I've had a good break. I've been training hard and working on a few things that I wanted to touch up on," he said.
"To be honest I'm feeling as good as ever in the pre-season compared to other years. I'm further ahead than what I've been in the past."
With Adam Gilchrist left out of the 18-man squad to rest ahead of the Champions Trophy, Matthew Hayden is set to open the batting with Simon Katich, although Hayden has been omitted from Australia's Champions Trophy side.
New South Wales wicketkeeper Brad Haddin takes over from Gilchrist behind the stumps, while McGrath spearheads the attack with Brett Lee.
Lee said the humid Malaysian climate should help the ball swing.
"It's just a matter of going out there, enjoying myself and hopefully getting the ball on the right line and length and if the ball swings around the corner then happy days," he said.
The West Indies players, who settled a pay dispute with the West Indies Cricket Board that has enabled them to compete here, are raring to go and will use the tournament as a crucial tune-up to defending their Champions Trophy title.
"We have got four games, maybe five if we reach the final in the three-nation series, but it is all going to be a lead-up to winning the ICC Champions Trophy," said 37-year-old Lara.
"We will be coming up against two very good teams, and I think we have to take things in our stride."
A noteworthy inclusion in their squad is Carlton Baugh, who replaces Denesh Ramdine as wicketkeeper.
With no full-fledged spinner in the mix they will be reliant on their fast and seam bowlers.
Fidel Edwards, with his 90mph pace, will provide the firepower backed up by Jerome Taylor, a lively quick who can produce surprising movement either way.
The two will be aided by the experience and accuracy of left armer Ian Bradshaw and marksman Corey Collymore.
It remains to be seen who opens the batting with Chris Gayle. In the past they have tried Marlon Samuels, Wavell Hinds and former captain Shivnarine Chanderpaul.
West Indies head coach Bennett King said he is looking forward to the team building on the momentum it picked up after a 4-1 series victory over India in the Caribbean this year.
"In the last few games the team played as a team and we need to build on that learning experience to move forward," he said.
Australia go into the game with the upper hand, having beaten the West Indies convincingly when they last met in the VB Series in early 2005.