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Australia seeks to extend winning run

West Indies exudes quiet confidence despite ten-wicket loss to CA XI in warm-up tie

Australia seeks to extend winning run - Cricket News
West Indies will look to regain rhythm, form and confidence when it takes on Australia in the first of three-Test series in Hobart from Thursday (December 10).

West Indies has won only four of its last 20 Tests and was humbled by ten wickets in a warm-up game by Cricket Australia XI. Australia, currently third in the ICC Test rankings, is coming off a 2-0 home series win over New Zealand. The last time the two sides met, in June this year, an on-song Australian side beat West Indies 2-0 in its own backyard.

Heading into the return series, West Indies, which last won a Test in Australia in 1997, will be aware of the uphill battle it faces in testing conditions. But despite its mediocre run of recent results, Jason Holder's side is hoping to pull off an upset.

"I love being the underdog," said Kemar Roach, the West Indies paceman. "So when we come out on top, it will be a whole different story. We will go out there, do the best we can and give them a good run."

It is not all doom and gloom for West Indies. While Holder impressed with an all-round show in the tour match in Brisbane, Darren Bravo made a half-century in the first innings, while Carlos Brathwaite, who also was among the runs, could be in line for a Test debut.

While Kraigg Brathwaite and Rajendra Chandrika opened against CA XI, West Indies might bring in Shai Hope to replace the latter in Hobart.

An under-strength Australian attack will only help West Indies’ chances. In the absence of Mitchell Starc, who is out with a stress fracture, and the recently retired Mitchell Johnson, Australia has opted for James Pattinson, who played the last of his 13 Tests against South Africa in March 2014 to link up in the pace attack with Josh Hazlewood and Peter Siddle, backed by Mitchell Marsh.

"Patto's a quality bowler. He bowls at 150kmph (93 mph) when he's got everything together,” Steven Smith, the Australian captain, said on Wednesday. "So he brings that kind of X-factor to the team. He's got a lot of aggression he's not afraid to show, which I think is a great attribute.”

Barring any last-minute injuries, the Australian batting line-up that featured in its last Test, against New Zealand in Adelaide, is expected to play against West Indies. But with Usman Khawaja expected to return from injury in time for the Boxing Day Test, there will be some pressure on Joe Burns, Adam Voges and Shaun Marsh to perform in Hobart.

Holder said West Indies was eager to exploit the weaknesses in the Australian batting line-up with an attack led by Jerome Taylor, Holder and Roach.

"They have some in-form batsmen like David Warner and Steven Smith, so it's important we put pressure on the middle order," said Holder. "If we can get some early wickets with the new ball, we can get guys like Shaun Marsh, who are trying to make their way back into the side, and put them under some pressure to score."


Australia: David Warner, Joe Burns, Steven Smith (capt), Adam Voges, Shaun Marsh, Mitch Marsh, Peter Nevill (wk), Peter Siddle, Josh Hazlewood, James Pattinson, Nathan Lyon.

West Indies (from): Kraigg Brathwaite, Rajendra Chandrika, Darren Bravo, Marlon Samuels, Jermaine Blackwood, Denesh Ramdin (wk), Jason Holder (capt), Carlos Brathwaite, Devendra Bishoo, Kemar Roach, Jerome Taylor, Shannon Gabriel.

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