West Indies upbeat despite first Test reversal as Darren Bravo promises more resilient show
Australia will have its eye set firmly on another win against the West Indies during the Boxing Day clash at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in the second Test on Saturday (December 26).
The home side, 1-0 ahead in the series after winning by an innings and 212 runs in the first Test in Hobart, will know that a 3-0 clean-sweep, coupled with a series loss for South Africa against England, would mean the top spot in the International Cricket Council Test Rankings. Moreover, a win in this Test will ensure a series win for Australia.
Despite a crushing loss in the first Test, the West Indies – who last won a series in Australia in the 1992-93 season – is pumped to turn things around. One of its chief problems was an inability to stitch partnerships and build an innings. Their batting crumbled all too easily in Hobart, but Darren Bravo, one of the key performers with 108 in the first innings, believed his teammates would show resilience in Melbourne.
"When you're not scoring runs it's always difficult to pick yourself up," he said. "But I believe the guys have that sort of resilience in them. We've scored international hundreds already. We've proven we are definitely capable of playing at this level. The guys are really up for it. We're really pumped up ... we're much better prepared and we're looking forward to it."
West Indies is considering including Devendra Bishoo, the legspinner, after he claimed two wickets in a tour match against Victoria XI last weekend. “He bowled better," said Phil Simmons, the coach. “There was a lot more drive in his deliveries and everything like that.”
For Australia, Usman Khawaja, the opener, is expected to make a comeback. He was sidelined with a hamstring problem since scoring 174 and 121 in the first two Tests against New Zealand last month, but proved his fitness thereafter with an explosive 70-ball 109 in the Big Bash League. Either of Joe Burns or Shaun Marsh, who hit his highest Test score of 182 in Hobart, is expected to make way for Khawaja.
David Warner, meanwhile, was focussed on the No. 1 spot in the ranking, but knew there was a need for other results to go its way. "We know we've got a big Test series here, then against New Zealand, to achieve the number one status," said the vice-captain. “Things have to play into our hands as well with South Africa's series against England. We've got a big job at hand, our goal is to be number one in all three formats.”
Warner also insisted that, despite its big victory in Hobart, complacency would not be a factor for the Australians. “It did look like they did go through the motions when we were batting on that (first) day, when we batted big," he said. “But it's a new game. We're all fired up and ready to go.”
Australia: David Warner, Joe Burns, Usman Khawaja, Steve Smith (capt), Adam Voges, Shaun Marsh, Mitch Marsh, Peter Nevill, Peter Siddle, Josh Hazlewood, James Pattinson, Nathan Lyon, Scott Boland.
West Indies: Kraigg Brathwaite, Rajendra Chandrika, Darren Bravo, Marlon Samuels, Jermaine Blackwood, Denesh Ramdin, Jason Holder (capt), Kemar Roach, Carlos Brathwaite, Jerome Taylor, Devendra Bishoo, Jomel Warrican.