ODI series preview: West Indies v Australia

Australia

They've hardly had time to savour their victory in the home tri-series against Sri Lanka and India, but now Australia have to keep up the momentum as their tour of the West Indies gets underway with five one-day internationals beginning on Friday.

They've hardly had time to savour their victory in the home tri-series against Sri Lanka and India, but now Australia have to keep up the momentum as their tour of the West Indies gets underway with five ODIs.

It was a marathon series of 11 matches for the Australians, including a three-match final leg against Sri Lanka, but this challenge in the Caribbean will pose a far different challenge for the tourists, who will be under the leadership of Shane Watson.

With Michael Clarke ruled out of the entire ODI series with a hamstring injury, it will be the first time Watson takes the leadership role in an overseas tour, and he is confident the players will show no signs of fatigue after a tough Australian summer.

Not only is it a new era for Watson, but he will also not have the experienced brain of Ricky Ponting to pick as Australia continue life without the presence of the former skipper, who was dropped and then retired midway through the tri-series.

The absence of Ponting and Clarke robs the Australian side of two of their most experienced batsmen, but in Peter Forrest they have plenty of talent in reserve. The form of brothers David and Michael Hussey was exemplary in the tri-series and more will be expected of them in the Caribbean.

The opening partnership David Warner and Matthew Wade is starting to blossom, but the return of Brad Haddin to the ODI arena makes Wade's selection uncertain. In Watson, they have a more than capable opening batsman, but the captain has been coming in at number three since his return from injury.

In the bowling department Brett Lee continues to spearhead the attack at 35 years old and, with rising stars Clint McKay and James Pattinson showing signs of form, they will be keen to establish their places in the squad along with Ben Hilfenhaus. However, both Pattinson and Hilfenhaus will miss the series opener, paving the way for McKay to partner Lee.

The battle for the spinner's berth will be interesting, following the recent selection of Nathan Lyon alongside Xavier Doherty.

West Indies, by contrast, are a far less settled outfit, having been on the end of a four-one defeat to India at the end of last year.

It has been a something of a cleanout in terms of personnel as Danza Hyatt, Anthony Martin and Jason Mohammed all fail to retain their places, while Ravi Rampaul, Lendl Simmons, Dinesh Ramdin and Adrian Barath are missing through injury.

In from the wilderness comes veteran Tino Best, who last played for West Indies in July 2009. Devendra Bishoo and Dwayne Bravo are also recalled, while first-choice Test wicketkeeper Carlton Baugh takes the gloves in the absence of the injured Ramdin. After two encouraging Twenty20 Internationals, opening batsman Johnson Charles is on course for an ODI debut.

With Darren Sammy continuing to lead the side, the presence of Marlon Samuels and Bravo will provide much-needed experience to a side brimming with exciting youngsters such as Andre Russell, Kieron Pollard, Kemar Roach, Kieran Powell and Sunil Narine.

<b>Key Men<br>West Indies:</b> A lot of pressure has already been placed on the shoulders of <b>Darren Bravo</b>, not just because he the cousin of Brian Lara and brother of vice-captain Dwayne Bravo, but also due to his recent standout performances. While most of his success in 2011 came in the Test arena, Bravo is fast becoming a heavyweight in the West Indian batting lineup and plenty of runs will be expected from the 23-year-old.

<b>Australia:</b> Not only will he be required to score runs at the top of the order, but<b>Shane Watson</b> will also have the added responsibility of captaining the team and sending down his fair share of overs. On slower pitches than he is used to in Australia, Watson will likely be a key man with ball in hand and his management of his own bowling within the Australian attack could prove significant. Another all-rounder expected to play a massive part will be <b>David Hussey</b> after his spin provided a perfect complement to the Australian bowling attack during the tri-series, while his batting form has been immense following five half-tons at a strike rate above 100.

<b>Last Five Head-To-Head Results</b><BR>2010: Fifth ODI: Australia won by 125 runs in Melbourne<BR>2010: Fourth ODI: Australia won by 50 runs in Brisbane<BR>2010: Third ODI: No result in Sydney<BR>2010: Second ODI: Australia won by eight wickets in Adelaide<BR>2010: First ODI: Australia won by 113 runs in Melbourne

<b>Prediction</b><br>Australia have won 12 of the last 13 matches between these sides, with one rain-affected washout thrown into the mix. With that in mind, and looking at Australia's current form, they shouldn't settle for anything less than a four-one or five-nil series victory.

<a href='http://www.skybet.com/betting/cricket/c30.html' target='_blank' class='instorylink'><B>Online betting</B></a> firm <a href='http://www.skybet.com/betting/cricket/c30.html' target='_blank' class='instorylink'><B>Sky Bet</B></a> have West Indies at 100/30 to win the series and Australia at 1/5. Visit Sky Bet for the latest <a href='http://www.skybet.com/betting/cricket/c30.html' target='_blank' class='instorylink'><B>cricket betting</B></a>.

<b>Squads<br>West Indies:</b> Darren Sammy (captain), Dwayne Bravo, Carlton Baugh (wicketkeeper), Tino Best, Devendra Bishoo, Darren Bravo, Johnson Charles, Sunil Narine, Kieron Pollard, Kieran Powell, Kemar Roach, Andre Russell, Marlon Samuels.

<b>Australia:</b> Shane Watson (captain), George Bailey, Daniel Christian, Xavier Doherty, Peter Forrest, Brad Haddin (wicketkeeper), Ben Hilfenhaus, David Hussey, Michael Hussey, Brett Lee, Nathan Lyon, Clint McKay, James Pattinson, Matthew Wade (wicketkeeper), David Warner.

<b>Fixtures</b><br>First ODI: 16 March, Kingstown<BR>Second ODI: 18 March, Kingstown<BR>Third ODI: 20 March, Kingstown<BR>Fourth ODI: 23 March, Gros Islet<BR>Fifth ODI: 25 March, Gros Islet

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