Big hitters Gayle, Watson face to face
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP):
Unlike the spin-inspired first semi-final, the second at the World Twenty20 will be influenced by two of the best hitters in cricket's short formats.
Shane Watson of Australia and Chris Gayle of West Indies are so feared and respected as batsmen that it's the main goal of both teams to dismiss them as soon as possible today. The stakes are high as a place in the final beckons against Sri Lanka after the host nation beat Pakistan in the first semi-final yesterday.
Watson has averaged more than 60 in five tournament matches and is the highest scorer with 242 runs, while Gayle has a better strike rate and tallied two half-centuries.
Australia captain George Bailey admits if Gayle gets going, Australia will be in trouble.
"Absolutely, we will focus on getting him out; if he has an outstanding game it's going to be very difficult for us to win," he said yesterday.
Bailey said not only Watson but also David Warner, Mike Hussey and Cameron White were capable hitters.
"So that's one part of the puzzle. That's Twenty20, isn't it?," Bailey said. "There are little games within the game, that's for sure."
West Indies counterpart Darren Sammy believes Australia are vulnerable to spin, and his side can exploit that.
Australia's batting order has largely depended on the opening partnership of Warner and Watson, leaving the middle order largely unexposed. It faltered against Pakistan's spin attack on Tuesday.
Hussey has been successful without attracting too much attention, accumulating runs in near quick time but without the flamboyance of the much celebrated openers.
"It's good that we watched them play against Pakistan, just like we saw England against India," Sammy said of Australia's problem against spin. "We have a variety of guys who could bowl spin, we will definitely try to exploit that.
"Obviously, they have lot of experience at the top of the order but as we saw in the game against Pakistan, once you get into that middle order ... they've been playing well but we back ourselves to think we have bowlers to take wickets against them."
Sunil Narine leads the battery, and despite taking only four wickets in the competition, he has an economy rate of barely six an over. Primarily an off spin bowler, Narine can get the ball to spin away from right-handers. Samuel Badree is also a capable leg spin bowler, and with part-timers Gayle and Marlon Samuels, West Indies have a formidable spin attack.
Trouble for batsmen
Australia's Xavier Doherty does not boast any mystery but his orthodox left-arm spin has been enough to trouble the batsmen and for him to collect four wickets in the two games he has played.
He's backed by Brad Hogg, the 41-year-old left-arm chinaman bowler, along with off spin bowler Glenn Maxwell.
The pace attack of the teams also match up equally, with left-armer Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins serving Australia. Watson again goes through a phenomenal form with the ball with his medium pace, taking 11 wickets in his five tournament matches. Fidel Edwards and Ravi Rampaul carry West Indies' responsibilities.
In reaching the semi-final, Australia have been more consistent in winning four out of five matches, including a group win against West Indies by 17 runs on September 22.
That was one of West Indies' two defeats. Another match was abandoned.
Sammy likened his team's progress in the tournament to running the 100-metre hurdles.
"We've got two more hurdles to jump to the finish line. Tomorrow it's about jumping that hurdle," he said.
NOTE: Today's match can been seen live on ESPN1 starting at 8:30 a.m.