Kieron Pollard and Aaron Finch

Australia kickstart T20 World Cup preparations as West Indies ready title defence

WI v Aus, T20 series preview

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Australia begin their preparations for this year’s ICC Men’s T20 World Cup this week as they take on defending champions West Indies in a five-match T20I series.

OVERVIEW
West Indies vs Australia, first T20I
Daren Sammy National Cricket Stadium, Gros Islet
Friday, July 9 at 7:30pm local

Looking to win the Men’s T20 World Cup for the first time in the team’s history, Australia captain Aaron Finch and coach Justin Langer will hope Friday’s match is the first step on their road to glory.

While the side is missing a handful of first-team regulars - David Warner, Steve Smith, Glenn Maxwell and Pat Cummins are all missing- the series provides Australia with a chance to finetune their formula for the showpiece event.

The Australians will not be short of star power, with Finch (second on the ICC T20I Men's Batting Rankings), Ashton Agar (third on the T20I Men's Bowling Rankings) and Adam Zampa (8th on the T20I Men's Bowling Rankings) all set to feature, with star fast bowlers Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood also available for selection.

Langer also hinted at a return to the XI for veteran Dan Christian, who last played for Australia in 2017 and has forged a reputation as a serial winner with T20 titles to his name across the world.

"He's a fantastic bloke, he's got an amazing set of hands in the field (and) he's clever with the ball,” Langer said of the 38-year-old. “His experience, and we've seen throughout the Big Bash and all around the world actually, he hits the ball as clean as anyone.

“It's almost becoming urban myth, isn't it? Wherever he plays, we win.

"He's so excited, he's probably a bit nervous tonight - so excited about playing for Australia again -  and I just love seeing that, love seeing that energy. It's like Moises Henriques as well. I love seeing that energy at whatever age."

Hosts West Indies will be looking to bounce back from their recent 3-2 series loss to South Africa as they prepare to defend their T20 World Cup crown in the United Arab Emirates and Oman.

With T20I greats Chris Gayle, Kieron Pollard, Andre Russel and Dwayne Bravo all in the squad, alongside proven performers Lendl Simmons and Evin Lewis, and the exciting Shimron Hetmyer and Nicholas Pooran, the West Indies’ ceiling is as high as any team’s in the world. A series win over Australia could prove the perfect platform off which to launch a successful title defence.

While they lost their last series, they showed just how formidable they can be, winning the first match by eight wickets with 30 balls to spare and the fourth by 21 runs. Only a one-run defeat in game three denied them a series victory.

Fixtures – all times local – all matches at Daren Sammy National Cricket Stadium, Gros Islet

First T20I: Friday, 9 July, 7:30pm
Second T20I: Saturday, 10 July, 7:30pm
Third T20I: Monday, 12 July, 7:30pm
Fourth T20I: Wednesday, 14 July, 7:30pm
Fifth T20I: Friday, 16 July, 7:30pm

Squads

West Indies:
Kieron Pollard (c), Fabian Allen, Dwayne Bravo, Sheldon Cottrell, Fidel Edwards, Andre Fletcher, Chris Gayle, Shimron Hetmyer, Jason Holder, Akeal Hosein, Evin Lewis, Obed McCoy, Nicholas Pooran, Andre Russell, Lendl Simmons, Kevin Sinclair, Oshane Thomas, Hayden Walsh Jr

Australia:
Aaron Finch (c), Ashton Agar, Wes Agar, Jason Behrendorff, Alex Carey, Dan Christian, Josh Hazlewood, Moises Henriques, Mitchell Marsh, Ben McDermott, Riley Meredith, Josh Philippe, Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Swepson, Ashton Turner, Andrew Tye, Matthew Wade, Adam Zampa

Remember last time

It has been seven years since these two teams met in the T20I arena, with their most recent battle in the format being at the T20 World Cup in Bangladesh in 2014.

West Indies won that match with two balls to spare, thanks to a 35-ball 53 from Gayle and an unbeaten 34 off 13 from Daren Sammy.

 Despite the seven-year gap between meetings, several players from that match could feature this series.

Alongside Gayle, the West Indies XI in Dhaka also featured Simmons, Bravo and Russell while Australia’s side included Finch and Starc.

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