Windies, Aussies lock horns today

Kuala Lumpur, Sept 23 :

Australia and the West Indies lock horns on Sunday to determine who goes to the Champions Trophy next month on a high, with both sides relying on their batsmen to come good and sneak victory.

The West Indies will need to be at their very best in the DLF Cup final to beat Australia, which has such depth in its squad that they have experimented and yet still made the playoff at India’s expense.

Captain Ricky Ponting said the tournament had been valuable experience for the younger members, but is expected to field his strongest side on Sunday. “We’ve mixed and matched our teams, and we’ve won just enough games to make the final, as we always wanted to do,” he said.

“We’ve got some younger players we see as being future Australian players but without having exposure at international level you really don’t know what they are capable of. We knew it was going to be that way before we came away, so we’ve tried to do the best we can with the squad we’ve had here.”

Even with an experimental team they have maintained their record of reaching every final of a triangular tournament they have played since the VB Series in 2001-02. Ponting now must decide whether to bring back form players Michael Clarke and Shane Watson, who both missed out against India on Friday.

Aside from a stubborn Matthew Hayden at the top of the order, and a maiden one-day century by Michael Hussey, Australia’s batsmen have yet to click and Ponting knows this is an area that must improve.

“We’ve got to get a lot better before the final. The batting hasn’t been good. We’ve got out of jail a couple of times,” he said. But he is buoyed by the way his bowlers fought back on Friday and by the return of Brett Lee, who won the game for Australia with a five-wicket haul. “It has given us a lot of confidence,” he said.

Just being in the final is a bonus for the West Indies, whose own middle-order batting is vulnerable and will need something special to cope with Lee and Glenn McGrath. “I am a little happier in the bowling areas but of course there is cause for concern in the batting,” acknowledged captain Brian Lara.

“I still have confidence that they can play. Now it is down to the final and I’m hoping that will bring out the best in them.” In their last match against India, Lara elevated Marlon Samuels, Runako Morton and Wavell Hinds up the order to give them a chance to get runs, but will revert to his strongest top four on Sunday.

“I will revert back to (Shivnarine) Chanderpaul and Chris (Gayle) and (Ramnaresh) Sarwan and myself in the top four, which will hopefully take the pressure of the lower down,” he said.