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Resurgent Windies pose Oz a real threat

World champions Australia will look to upset the natural striking rhythm of West Indies opener Chris Gayle on Sunday.

india Updated: Nov 04, 2006 17:07 IST

World champions Australia will look to upset the natural striking rhythm of West Indies opener Chris Gayle on Sunday as they bid to end their Champions Trophy drought.

Gayle's almost run-a-ball unbeaten 133 led the holders to an emphatic six-wicket victory over South Africa in Thursday's semi-final and Australia will be wary of his presence at the top of the order.

While the smart money is on Australia, the most consistent side in world cricket, the West Indies have built up serious momentum, reaching the final after having to qualify.

Australia will also be looking for a measure of revenge for their only defeat in the league phase, when young West Indian paceman Jerome Taylor sunk the world champions with a hat-trick.

As defending champions, the West Indies have the powerful incentive of pride to fire them up.

But the Australians, as they proved in their convincing semi-final victory over former champions New Zealand, are able to evolve strategies as games unfold.

Australia captain Ricky Ponting will bank on Brett Lee's pace and the swing of Nathan Bracken to counter Gayle, who has scored three centuries in the tournament so far.

The pitch at the Brabourne Stadium, criticised for not being sufficiently prepared in the league phase, is still an unknown quantity. But major work has been done in the last two weeks and it is believed it will play true, with the ball initially coming onto the bat.

With muggy conditions typical with the onset of evening, the team fielding second will have to take into account the severe heat induced by the floodlights and perhaps an element of dew that could play a part in the final hour.

The Australians have always been apprehensive of facing Brian Lara and not without justification. And while he has been focusing more on his leadership role of late, he has always been known to rise to the big occasion with the bat.