Jason Holder's men walked into the tournament with the underdog tag despite their recent success in the Twenty20 format, but with the successful return of Kieron Pollard and Sunil Narine, West Indies, currently placed eighth in the ICC Ranking for ODI teams, will be in a positive frame of mind, with home conditions further boosting its confidence.
The first match was played at the same venue, which appeared to assist spinners heavily throughout. Narine, Aaron Phangiso, Imran Tahir and JP Duminy enjoyed bowling on the slow track, making it difficult for the batsmen to score easily. Narine's 6 for 27 earned him the Man of the Match award, and barring Pollard, who hit an unbeaten 67 at run-a-ball in the 189-run chase, and Rilee Rossouw (61 off 83) in South Africa’s innings, none of the batsmen got going in the low-scoring encounter.
But Australia, the world champion, would have also seen how the first match went and assessed the conditions in Guyana, and the players will be eager to make a mark in the 50-over format after three months of non-stop T20 action.
David Warner was in great touch during Sunrisers Hyderabad's title triumph in the recently concluded Indian Premier League, ending with 848 runs in 17 appearances. Aaron Finch, Steven Smith, Usman Khawaja and George Bailey are the others Australia will pin its batting hopes on. How they tackle the threat of Narine will be key.
"Any guy who can spin the ball both ways, at good pace as well, is going to be a handful," said Finch. "He (Narine) is someone we will put a lot of work into and make sure we are as well prepared as we can be to play him."
The West Indies offspinner has bagged 16 wickets at 20.81 in ODIs against Australia so far, but keeping in mind the slowish pitch, Adam Zampa, the young legspinner, could play a big role for the visiting side alongside Nathan Lyon.
"This (Providence) pitch tends to be generally slow so we're probably expecting an additional spinner," said Holder. "We may be ranked lower than these guys, but we're playing at home so that's a good advantage."
What should be a welcome boost for Australia is the return of Mitchell Starc, who has been out of action since fracturing his foot in last November’s day-night Test in Adelaide against New Zealand. Though it may take some time before he returns to his best in white-ball cricket, West Indies will want to tread carefully.
The home side is without Chris Gayle, Andre Russell, Dwayne Bravo and Darren Sammy -- all members of the triumphant World T20 side -- but with Marlon Samuels, Carlos Brathwaite and Pollard in its ranks, they still have the firepower and depth to keep opposition bowlers on their toes.
The tournament will see all three teams facing each other thrice before the top two meet in the final on June 26 in Barbados.
West Indies: Jason Holder (capt), Sulieman Benn, Carlos Brathwaite, Darren Bravo, Jonathan Carter, Johnson Charles, Andre Fletcher, Shannon Gabriel, Sunil Narine, Ashley Nurse, Kieron Pollard, Denesh Ramdin (wk), Marlon Samuels, Jerome Taylor.
Australia: Steven Smith (capt), David Warner, George Bailey, Scott Boland, Nathan Coulter-Nile, James Faulkner, Aaron Finch, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Mitchell Starc, Matthew Wade (wk), Adam Zampa.