Australia favourites



SYDNEY (AAP): How the three teams shape up for the VB Tri Series this summer:

Australia

Always the team to beat.

Winner of the last two World Cups (1999, 2003) and ranked No.1 in both Tests and one-day internationals.

Has won 16 of 25 Tri Series in Australia since 1979-80, including 12 of the past 15.

Can call on huge reservoir of talent in virtually all positions.

Consistent, disciplined, well-organised and confident.

Key players:

Adam Gilchrist (age 33) - The most destructive hitter in world cricket.

Ricky Ponting (30) Captain - Confident leader with a winning knack and one of the great modern batsmen.

Glenn McGrath (34) The most miserly strike bowler in world cricket.

Pakistan

Outclassed in recent Test series against Australia but more competitive in shorter form of the game.

Winner of 1992 World Cup and won Tri series last time these three teams contested it (1996-97).

Beaten by West Indies in semi-finals of ICC Trophy in England. Won only four of 18 ODIs against Australia in past five years.

Unpredictable, but capable of anything.

Key players:

Yousuf Youhana (30) ? World's leading one-day run-scorer in 2003.

Inzamam-Ul-Haq (34) Captain ? Only Sachin Tendulkar has scored more ODI runs, but back injury has blighted his Australian tour so far.

Shoaib Akhtar (29) ? Criticised by coach Bob Woolmer for lack of commitment during Test series.

Consistent ODI wicket-

taker in Australia.

West Indies

Winners of the first two World Cups (1975, 1979) and showing signs of resurgence with unexpected victory in ICC Champions Trophy in England in September.

Now coached by Australian Bennett King and playing with renewed confidence. Has best record of any overseas team in Tri series history, winning tournament six times, but not since 1992-93.

Key players:

Brian Lara (35) Captain ? Superbly talented left-hander with nearly 9,000 one-day international runs at better than 42 an innings.

Chris Gayle (25) ? Made brilliant 132 not out against England at Lord's last year and prominent in Windies win in ICC Champions Trophy.

Dwayne Bravo (21) ? Leading wicket-taker in England last year and shaping as the latest in a long line of Caribbean fast bowling champions.



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