Colombo, Oct 4: All eyes will be on Shane Watson and Chris Gayle when Australia and West Indies face off in the second semi-final of the ICC World Twenty20 2012 here at R Premadasa Stadium on Friday night.
Watson has single-handedly powered Australia towards the knockout stage. His only failure was against Pakistan and the team lost badly. That was the only blemish for Australia in the tournament so far. In all four victories, Watson was the Man-of-the-match. It is tough to look beyond Watson for the men from Down Under.
Watson heads both batting and bowling charts in this year's World T20. He will yet again be the key for them if they have to progress to a second straight WT20 final.
Australia, in the last edition, won all games till the final but surrendered to England. This trophy is the only one which they haven't secured. They are looking good this time but Gayle and his friends stand in the way in the penultimate hurdle.
If it is Watson at the top of the order for Australia, Gayle is in same red-hot form as an opener for the Caribbean side. If Gayle gets going, no bowling attack in the world can stop him.
These two teams were in the same pool (Group B) in the league phase. In that game, rain interrupted and Australia, while chasing, were ahead on the Duckworth-Lewis method and won.
If it is Watson versus Gayle at the top, one cannot discount the presence of the little man David Warner. He too can destroy bowlers in no time.
Apart from top three for Australia, involving Watson, Warner and Michael Hussey, there is concern over the middle order. They haven't had enough match practice and it was evident when Pakistan spinners exposed them in their final Super Eight game on Sunday.
If the top three batsmen return to the pavilion early, Australian middle order will be under pressure in this big game.
The way Australia crumbled to spin at the same venue, is a huge boost for Sunil Narine and Samuel Badree. Narine will be getting ready to weave his magic.
West Indies batting too is a worry. Apart from Gayle, the rest are yet to be consistent. Marlon Samuels and Johnson Charles are the other two to aggregate more than 100 along with Gayle.
Australia's left-arm paceman Mitchell Starc has been excellent. His incoming deliveries to the right-handers are the ones to watch out for. The pace of Pat Cummins and guile of veteran Brad Hogg will be on view.
The way Australia have played thus far, they appear to have advantage but in a T20 game you never know what is in store.
Australia's path to Semi-finals
Group Stage (Group B)
Super Eight (Group 2, topped group with 4 points)
West Indies' path to Semi-finals
Group Stage (Group B)
Super Eight (Group 1, finished second with 4 points)
Australia: George Bailey (captain), Dan Christian, Pat Cummins, Xavier Doherty, Ben Hilfenhaus, Brad Hogg, David Hussey, Michael Hussey, Glenn Maxwell, Clint McKay, Mitchell Starc, Matthew Wade, David Warner, Shane Watson, Cameron White.
West Indies: Darren Sammy (captain), Dwayne Bravo, Samuel Badree, Darren Bravo, Johnson Charles, Fidel Edwards, Chris Gayle, Kieron Pollard, Sunil Narine, Denesh Ramdin, Ravi Rampaul, Andre Russell, Marlon Samuels, Lendl Simmons, Dwayne Smith.
Umpires: Kumar Dharmasena (Sri Lanka) and Aleem Dar (Pakistan)
Third umpire: Richard Kettleborough (England)
Fourth umpire: Asad Rauf (Pakistan)
Match Referee: Ranjan Madugalle (Sri Lanka)
Match starts at 7.00 PM IST
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