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West Indies seek rare title triumph

Source: PTI
September 23, 2006 14:42 IST
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The West Indies will seek a rare title triumph when they cross swords with Australia in the final of the cricket tri-series in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday, fully aware that the brittle batting line-up needs to put up a far more inspired show.

The middle-order batsmen have failed in all the matches of the series and captain Brian Lara is hoping that his tough words will have some impact on his off-colour batsmen in the crucial day and night encounter at the Kinrara Oval.

The Caribbeans would consider themselves a trifle lucky to be featuring in the final after the Duckworth-Lewis system went in their favour in the rain-hit opening match against India.

However, the team pulled off a shock victory against Australia in the league match to secure a place in the final.

The Australians, on the other hand, are in no mood to take their rivals lightly as they are keen to go into next month's Champions Trophy with a title under their belt.

The Champions Trophy is one title which has eluded the Australians and Ricky Ponting and his men are determined to lay their hands on that cup this time around.

Although the Aussies have experimented with their players in this tournament, it remains to be seen whether they will pick their best eleven for Sunday's game.

The world champions have not been too convincing in their performance in this series and managed to clinch a berth in the final after a slender 18-run victory over India on Friday.

The Caribbeans will be heavily relying on the genius of Brian Lara to win the match and the elegant left-hander has shown that he is in good form.

But the form of some of his other top batsmen has not really inspired confidence which has been the main reason for the repeated batting collapses of the team.

Lara was particularly annoyed on his batsmen after they failed to reach a modest target of 163 against India in their last league match where he deliberately brought himself at the number nine slot to give others a chance to shoulder the responsibility.

"There are people knocking on the door. If these guys do not take the responsibility, they will be replaced," Lara said. "We are not sure what is happening at the number six, seven and eight positions in the batting line-up," he said.

Although the West Indies have some dangerous batsmen like Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Chris Gayle and Ramnaresh Sarwan, it is necessary for them to click collectively on Sunday if they wish to counter the formidable Australians.

Some of the Australian batsmen have also not been in good nick but as seen in the past the enormity of the occasion brings out the best in them.

It would be interesting to see who opens the innings for the Aussies since they have gone with different combinations in all the matches. The strongly-built Matthew Hayden, who has got some runs under his belt, is likely to open with Simon Katich.

But strangely, the running between the wickets was a problem area for the world champions in the last match against India and captain Ponting is keen to rectify it.

"Losing 5 wickets for 90 runs is not good enough to win big games. We will have to sort out our running between the wickets also," Ponting said.

In the bowling department, the Aussies have the formidable pace duo of Glenn McGrath and Brett Lee which will pose a major threat to the rival batsmen.

Despite returning to international cricket after a fairly long gap, McGrath has shown that he is still accurate and capable of troubling the best of batsmen with his nagging line and length.

The Kinrara track has not been too conducive for strokeplay and judging by the scores of the last few matches, a low scoring contest appears to be on the card.

Teams (from):

Australia: Ricky Ponting (captain), Michael Hussey, Nathan Bracken, Stuart Clark, Michael Clarke, Dan Cullen, Brad Haddin, Matthew Hayden, Brad Hogg, Simon Katich, Brett Lee, Glenn McGrath, Damien Martyn, Andrew Symonds and Shane Watson.

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

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