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WI seek winning start

LONDON, England (CMC):

West Indies will meet Australia in their opening match of the ICC World Twenty20 Championship today, desperate to turn the page on a wretched last few weeks and save a campaign that promised so much at the start.

Despite arriving here on a high, following the recapture of the Wisden Trophy in the Caribbean, West Indies have been repeatedly humbled by England, beaten emphatically in both the Test and one-day international series.

Despite the sour results, captain Chris Gayle said the regional side were full of confidence heading into the clash with Australia, slated for 2 p.m. (8 a.m. Jamaica time) at the Oval.

a big match

"We are definitely looking forward to it ... it is Australia in the first match and that will be a big match for us to start," Gayle said.

"We will be going up against a good team and that is the kind of game that will always bring out the best in you. We know we have to be on top of our game, but the key is to be yourself, keep the game simple, play positively and to our strengths."

West Indies have seen precious little of this good cricket in recent weeks. They were flattened inside three days at Lord's in the opening Test before being humbled by an innings and 83 runs at Chester-le-Street in the second match, despite losing an entire day to rain.

Their fortunes did not improve in the ODI series, losing the three-match series 2-0 with the opening game being rained out.

They beat Scotland and Ireland in Twenty20 warm-up matches but were annihilated by England on Wednesday in their final preparation match for the June 5-21 tournament.

a significant reversal

West Indies will, therefore, be aiming for a significant reversal in fortunes if they are to overcome a strong Australia side who are already heavily favoured to win.

Gayle, the influential leader of the Caribbean side, will be a key asset with his power hitting at the top of the order, having the potential to undermine the Aussies' attack.

Two years ago in the inaugural Twenty20 World Championship in South Africa, Gayle blasted a splendid 117 against the hosts in a losing effort and said yesterday he was hoping to recapture the same form today.

"I was really happy with the way I batted. It was the kind of innings you dream of playing," Gayle recalled.

"It would be a great feeling if I could repeat that kind of knock and lead us to a win. We would like to win this tournament to bring smiles on the faces of our fans and bring back that happiness, but we will take it step by step, one match at a time."

Australia will be without their devastating all-rounder Andrew Symonds for the tournament, after he was sent home for a breach of team rules.

It has left the Aussies without one of their key players but vice-captain Michael Clarke dismissed suggestions this would unsettle the side.

"No matter what comes along on a tour, as a team you need to stick together," said Clarke.

"The boys have trained really well and are looking forward to tomorrow's game. What's happened in the past will stay in the past.

"Our preparation has been spot-on. We've played very well in the practice matches and we're looking forward to the game against West Indies."


WEST INDIES - Chris Gayle (captain), Denesh Ramdin, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Darren Bravo, Andre Fletcher, Xavier Marshall, Lendl Simmons, Darren Sammy, David Bernard Jr, Jerome Taylor, Fidel Edwards, Sulieman Benn, Lionel Baler, Kieron Pollard.

AUSTRALIA - Ricky Ponting (captain), Michael Clarke, Brad Haddin, Nathan Bracken, Mitchell Johnson, Peter Siddle, Shane Watson, David Warner, Brett Lee, Michael Hussey, Nathan Hauritz, Ben Hilfenhaus, Cameron White, David Hussey.