ODI Series Preview: Australia v West Indies


Opportunity knocks for a host of relatively fresh faces to cement a permanent berth amid Australia's rotation policy, while the West Indies are presented with the perfect platform to do more than hold their own among the big guns.

The hosts have been entirely transparent about their bid to rest key players across an increasingly jampacked touring schedule, with Aaron Finch, James Faulkner and Ben Cutting the latest to step into the breach left by Michael Hussey's omission than the decision to forgo a select few others.

Mitchell Johnson, meanwhile, has gradually settled into the selectors' good books again - and George Bailey has shrugged off the 'He could be flipping burgers' comment thrown at him after his criticism of recent selection policy. This five-match affair, again, can fortify their respective statuses.

With the Champions Trophy to build toward, though, combinations need to be settled on - and reasonably soon. The limited-overs tournament in England later this year will be the last of its kind, and Australia will want to sign off with historical dominance. The exact 15 that will head to the United Kingdom, one surmises, will comprise at least 10 of the squad to face the Windies.

The visiting camp will want to oblige coach Ottis Gibson's ambition to climb the world rankings. Recently afforded a new contract by the WICB, Gibson's wish to be allowed a prolonged period to affect positive change has been granted, and now it's up to the man - and the team - to deliver.

Even Stevens with the Aussies in the Caribbean last year, this year's campaign - and the need to go one better - has not been helped by injury to Marlon Samuels and Chris Gayle's lack of form.

The reception awaiting the returning Ramnaresh Sarwan, both from the board, his team-mates and coach, meanwhile, remains in the balance. The veteran has a lot prove after suing his employees and hiding in county cricket.

Kieron Pollard, Gayle and company's participation in the Twenty20 Big Bash League has only served to increase their chances of success in Australia, and Gibson and company can rely on their knowledge of conditions and big-crowd pressure.

The Indian Premier League player auction, meanwhile, is around the corner - and solid showings Down Under won't hurt Darren Sammy and cohorts hope of beating base prices.

Key Men Usman Khawaja has been pushing for a permanent ODI berth for a long time. David Warner's exit, for the first two ODIs at least, brings another chance for the steady left-hander to give the selectors food for thought.

The cavalier approach and fine form that lined Chris Gayle's return to the international fold last year has evaded him of late. His old foes, however, might spark a turnaround - in runs and attitude - for the big-hitting left-hander.

Last Five Head-To-Head Results 2012: Fifth ODI: Australia won by 30 runs in Gros Islet 2012: Fourth ODI: West Indies won by 42 runs in Gros Islet 2012: Third ODI: Match tied in Kingstown 2012: Second ODI: West Indies won by five wickets in Kingstown 2012: First ODI: Australia won by 64 runs in Kingstown

Prediction Online betting firm Sky Bet have Australia at 4/9 and the West Indies at 7/4 in the odds to win the series. Visit Sky Bet for the latest cricket betting.

More cricket bets here.

Squads Australia (for first two ODIs): Michael Clarke (captain), George Bailey, Ben Cutting, Xavier Doherty, Aaron Finch, James Faulkner, Phillip Hughes, Mitchell Johnson, Glenn Maxwell, Clint McKay, Mitchell Starc, Matthew Wade, Usman Khawaja.

West Indies: Darren Sammy (captain), Dwayne Bravo, Tino Best, Darren Bravo, Johnson Charles, Narsingh Deonarine, Chris Gayle, Jason Holder, Sunil Narine, Kieron Pollard, Kieran Powell, Kemar Roach, Andre Russell, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Devon Thomas.

Fixtures First ODI: Perth, 1 February Second ODI: Perth, 3 February Third ODI: Canberra, 6 February Fourth ODI: Sydney, 8 February Fifth ODI: Melbourne, 10 February

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