Australia would be hoping to put it across the whipping boys of Group 1 when they take on the two-time champions West Indies in an ICC T20 World Cup ‘Super 12’ game here later on Saturday.
While Australia have had their share of success in the tournament, the big loss to Group 1 leaders England has left them in a situation where they cannot take their last-4 berth for granted even if they beat the Kieron Pollard-led Caribbean side in the Saturday afternoon match.
That clarity will come after South Africa play the last Group 1 game, against England, on Saturday evening. A loss for South Africa will give an easy passage to the Aaron Finch-led Australia into the semifinals, while a big win for the Proteas could result in the Net Run Rate (NRR) coming into play.
But beating the eliminated West Indies is by no means a foregone conclusion for Finch and his side. The two nations played a five-match T20I series back in the summer as they prepared for the T20 World Cup, and it was the Caribbean side which dominated those meetings, winning the series 4-1.
Two-time champions West Indies have nothing to lose in one final game before heading home, with their fate in Group 1 already sealed following losses to England, South Africa and Sri Lanka.
Saturday will also be an emotional moment for the West Indies squad as they say goodbye to Dwayne Bravo, who has announced that it will be his final international match before retirement.
“I think the time has come,” Bravo said after the loss to Sri Lanka earlier in the week. “I’ve had a very good career. To represent the West Indies for 18 years, had some ups and downs, but as I look back at it I’m very grateful to represent the region and the Caribbean people for so long.”
Australia have never won a T20 World Cup title, with a loss to England in the 2010 final the closest they have come. But win in Abu Dhabi on Saturday and the current crop of Australian T20 stars will be two wins from setting that record straight.
“West Indies are such a dangerous side. We saw that when we played them. Obviously with them being out of the competition now they’ve got nothing to lose, which can also be a really dangerous spot,” said Finch.
Probable Australia XI: Warner, Finch, Marsh, Smith, Maxwell, Stoinis, Wade, Cummins, Starc, Zampa, Hazlewood.
Probable West Indies XI: Lewis, Gayle, Chase, Pooran, Hetmyer, Pollard, Russell, Holder, Bravo, Hosein, Rampaul.
The Qualification Calculations:
West Indies are out, but Australia go into the final day in a strong position to reach the semifinals. A win for the Aussies would leave South Africa needing to beat in-form England and by a sizeable margin to make up the NRR differential.
Australia start the day with a 0.289 advantage so even a defeat to the West Indies wouldn’t necessarily deny Aaron Finch’s side qualification, as long as South Africa also lose to England and there is no unlikely NRR swing.