| Ricky Ponting, who believes there is no reason why his men cannot continue their winning streak, during practice in Kingston Thursday. (AP)
Kingston: The West Indies are looking to carry over the momentum of their euphoric Antigua Test victory over Australia into their seven-match one-day International series, starting here on Saturday.
The cricket world was buzzing as Brian Lara’s young team created Test history with the highest fourth innings of 418 for seven last Tuesday to floor the Australians who were shooting for an unprecedented 4-0 Caribbean series whitewash.
It was a heroic performance that may finally have instilled the self-belief that has been missing in West Indies cricket since the days of Viv Richards and their deadly pace attack of the 1980s.
“We have now set a standard and we kept the standard up and we made the greatest run chase in the history of the game and that’s what we are going to take forward,” Lara said in the wake of the three-wicket victory at St John’s.
Now Lara’s team faces another mountain with Ricky Ponting’s World Cup champions putting on the line their 17-match unbeaten run, stretching back to last January.
But the Windies may be catching Australia at the right time as Ponting’s men are on the tail-end of an exhausting 10-month playing schedule, with many, particularly among the Test team, having their thoughts on home over the closing weeks of their Caribbean tour.
Fast bowler Jermaine Lawson is doubtful for the opening match. “Lawson tried to bowl a few deliveries in the nets but because of discomfort in the back he was released from bowling,” said coach Gus Logie.
Ponting is recovering from a virus, which forced him out of the final Test and there are concerns over the flagging fast bowlers, particularly the injury-prone Jason Gillespie, Australia’s best bowler in the Test series.
Ponting believes there is no reason his team cannot continue their winning streak.
“We have got the four of five players that have come into the squad (after the Tests) and that should be able to help us out,” Ponting said on Friday.
“It is up to those guys to get the other guys up. There is no doubt they are going to be a little bit tired. At the same time we are not going to have any of those excuses floating around the team.
“It is up to everyone to lift themselves up for these games. It is a big series for us. After playing as well as we did through the World Cup, we have set some standards for ourselves and we have to make sure we keep playing at those high standards.”
Australia want to play their strongest team in the opening matches at Sabina Park on Saturday and Sunday to ensure a winning start, and dominate Lara’s team from the outset.
Ponting is still not back to full-strength after a sapping virus which prevented him from adding to his outstanding performances in the opening three Tests, yet it was still enough for him to be voted Man-of-the-Series.
“It’s going to take me a bit of time to get back to feeling 100 per cent again but I feel OK,” Ponting said.
The West Indies beat hosts India 4-3 last November-December to underline their one-day potential, but their progress at the World Cup was hampered by rain.
Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Man-of-the-Match in the Antigua Test with his fighting century, will miss the ODI series because of a broken finger on his left hand and Carlton Baugh replaces wicketkeeper Ridley Jacobs, who needs to fully recover from injuries.
West Indies (from): Chris Gayle, Devon Smith, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Brian Lara (captain), Marlon Samuels, David Bernard, Carlton Baugh, Omari Banks, Ryan Hurley, Vasbert Drakes, Ricardo Powell, Corey Collymore, Mervyn Dillon, Jermaine Lawson.
Australia (from): Matthew Hayden, Adam Gilchrist, Ricky Ponting (captain), Darren Lehmann, Jimmy Maher, Michael Bevan, Andrew Symonds, Brad Hogg, Andrew Bichel, Brett Lee, Jason Gillespie, Glenn McGrath.