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McGrath to play in tri-series opener

Source: PTI
September 11, 2006 17:25 IST
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World champions Australia will be looking to get into winning mode right away as they take the field after a gap of five months against a steadily improving West Indies in the tri-series in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday.

Out of international action since April, when they played minnows Bangladesh, Ricky Ponting's men are keen to get back to the business of winning, ahead of the Champions Trophy, a tournament they are still to win.

- Yuvraj Singh out of India's first ODI

The squad that the Aussies have come with gives the impression that the emphasis would be on experimentation, and Ponting hinted as much by leaving out some big names like vice-captain Michael Hussey and speedster Brett Lee from the playing eleven.

"We are looking at giving equal play to all our players. For the next few days we will mix and match the players -- some guys will play two games, some three," Ponting said after his team's practice session at the Kinrara Oval, which will host all the seven matches of the tri-series which has India as the third team.

With Matthew Hayden, back in the one-day scheme of things after a year, also being left out, and Adam Gilchrist being rested for this tournament, it is likely that Simon Katich and Phil Jaques will open the batting.

Ponting also confirmed that Glenn McGrath would make his international return on Tuesday after a nine-month hiatus.

For the West Indies, the tournament would offer an opportunity to test themselves against the best before they embark for India to defend their Champions Trophy crown.

Ramnaresh Sarwan, the West Indies vice-captain, said the players are starting to gel as a team and the results are beginning to show in one-day internationals.

"We will be the first to admit that we have been inconsistent over the past few years but we're starting to play some good cricket now in the one-day form of the game and we need to build on the series victory we had over India in the Caribbean earlier this year," Sarwan said after the practice session at the Oval.

Sarwan said the series would provide them a chance to find the right formula for success.

"This is an excellent opportunity for us here in Malaysia, to be playing against two of the top teams in the world -- Australia are world champions and India are ranked number three -- so we have to ensure that our game is always in top shape to get past these two teams," said Sarwan.

The teams would be up against hot and humid weather condition, with rains also not being ruled out during the 12 days of day-night competition, the first of its kind being hosted by Malaysia.

The pitch also is a bit of concern although it does not bear any resemblance to the clay track that was dished out for the Commonwealth cricket competition in 1998.

The centre-square is rock hard with an even distribution of grass and curator Les Burdett said it is expected to behave as the pitch at the Adelaide Oval -- something that should please the Aussies, who have won six out of the last 10 ODIs played between the two teams, with one ending in no result.

Squads:

Australia: Ricky Ponting (capt), Simon Katich, Mark Cosgrove, Phil Jaques, Michael Clarke, Shane Watson, Brad Haddin (wk), Mitchell Johnson, Dan Cullen, Nathan Bracken, Glenn McGrath.

West Indies (from): Brian Lara (capt), Ramnaresh Sarwan, Chris Gayle, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Wavell Hinds, Runako Morton, Marlon Samuels, Dwayne Bravo, Dwayne Smith, Carlton Baugh (wk), Ian Bradshaw, Jerome Taylor, Fidel Edwards, Corey Collymore.

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