When the West Indies last played Australia in this tournament, the pitches at the Premadasa Stadium were fresher and happier. They hadn't been pounded upon, there was a fair sprinkling of grass, the ball came onto bat quite well and, maybe as a result, left it just as quickly. The West Indies scored more runs than we thought they could (191) and Australia showed how little even that could look like.
Less than a couple of weeks later, the pitches have shed their disguise. And while not quite as slow and sluggish as they tended to be in Sri Lanka, the ball is gripping much more. Pakistan bowled eighteen overs of spin against Australia and, not for the first time in recent months, showed up their weakness. On that count it tilts the game a bit towards the West Indies.
But with Samuels a bit inconsistent, Pollard a bit off-colour and Dwayne Bravo a bit unfit, the West Indies rely, more than ever before, on Chris Gayle to put runs on the board. Apart from scoring many, and quickly, he could negate the two left arm spinners Australia have.
But, and this will worry them given the weakness of the bowling, they won't know how much is enough. They must hope that this surface they play on will allow Sunil Narine to bowl four attacking overs and maybe get Samuel Badree to play too.
But the reliance on a few is not a purely West Indian problem. Australia are showing those symptoms too. There is a feeling that this Australian team cannot win from 10-2 and that is why I won't be surprised if they go back to the experience of David Hussey, who has played a lot of cricket on the sub-continent.
His elder brother though is the pivotal batsman. Two years ago he was the finisher at number 7, this time he has to bind the innings together from number 3. And he does both equally well. If Australia have to win chasing, they want Hussey (snr) at the crease.
Australia are the better bowling side and have a little more pedigree in batting. If both teams play to par, they will win, but that is not how it normally goes in T20! Especially in a knockout. You tend to look at the big players on either side, players who could change a match on their own. I think Australia have the edge there.
Professional Management Group