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Hussey to lead Aussies in WI clash

Brett Lee and Andrew Symonds are also expected to make their first starts of the tour.

india Updated: Sep 18, 2006 11:01 IST

Michael Hussey will lead Australia against the West Indies on Monday chanting the mantra 'rain rain go away' as the weather threatens to derail the DLF Cup tri-series here.

Malaysia was picked as a neutral venue for this Champions Trophy warm-up but monsoonal downpours, usual at this time of year, have wreaked havoc, with two of the three games so far disrupted by rain.

Few doubt that the same will happen on Monday when Australia play the West Indies for a second time here after their comprehensive 78-run mauling of the Caribbean side last week.

The Aussies are experimenting in Kuala Lumpur, and captain Ricky Ponting takes a break Monday, handing his responsibilities to Hussey, whose calm outlook and strong team qualities have earned him the right to lead the side.

There will be at least three other changes, with a trio of players sent home Sunday in a pre-planned decision to slim the squad to 15.

They include young fast bowler Mitchell Johnson who burst through so spectacularly against India on Saturday with a blistering four wicket haul.

Also on the plane home are batsmen Mark Cosgrove and Phil Jaques, meaning Test star Matthew Hayden will start his first one-day game in almost a year.

Speedster Brett Lee and all-rounder Andrew Symonds are also expected to make their first starts of the tour.

"Obviously I'm not looking to change too much," said Hussey, a middle-order batsman.

"The team has been playing pretty well so far. Ricky has a very good plan, a good culture. I'm lucky I've got some very good senior players around me to help me out as well.

"We've got great depth and I'm really looking forward to the challenge against the West Indies.

"We've got some big games coming up and we're really determined to make the final (on September 24)."

Hayden will open with either Simon Katich or Shane Watson, who performed sterlingly in the role against India on Saturday, hitting a career-best 79.

"I'm obviously really excited about having the opportunity," said Hayden, Australia's regular Test opener who lost his one-day place a year ago.

"It's been a long time since I've played one-day cricket for Australia. I like to think that my performances in Test cricket have led me to this position right now."

Lee will spearhead the bowling but Australia will miss Johnson, who caused all sorts of problems for the Indians.

Chairman of selectors Andrew Hilditch defended the decision to send him home just as he was getting going.

"All three players were advised before the tour that they would only be participating in the first two games of the DLF Cup," he said.

"This was a good opportunity for all three young players to display their skills at international level. They have all performed extremely well and their return home is in no way a reflection of the performance of those players."

The West Indies were buoyed by their victory over India on the Duckworth-Lewis method last week in a rain-affected match but have kept a low profile since as they plot Australia's downfall.

Their team is expected to remain much the same with Chris Gayle and Shivnarine Chanderpaul opening the innings.

Fast bowler Corey Collymore remains injured. Fidel Edwards, with his 90mph pace, will provide the firepower.

First Published: Sep 17, 2006 12:20 IST