West Indies captain Chris Gayle was in optimistic mood ahead of his team's one-day international series against Australia, which begins this morning.
The Windies were beaten 2-0 in the three-match Test series late last year and will be without injured all-rounder Dwayne Bravo for the five one- dayers but Gayle hit 146 in 89 balls as his side posted 399-5 from 45 overs and beat a Prime Minister's XI by 90 runs. "This is a great start for us, this is what we wanted," Gayle said.
Australia have not lost a one-day international to West Indies since the Champions Trophy in 2006. Surprisingly, the Australians do not have a particularly impressive recent record at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, winning only one of their last six games.
They warmed up for the series with a thrilling two-run Twenty20 win against Pakistan, defending a meagre total of 127 as hostile paceman Shaun Tait impressed with 3-13.
Gayle, though, is confident of success and said: "I think over here in Australia it actually suits my batting. The wickets here have a bit more pace and a bit more bounce. I like the ball coming on to the bat."
In addition to the absence of key figure Bravo, batting lynchpins Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Ramnaresh Sarwan, fast bowlers Fidel Edwards and Jerome Taylor are also sidelined by injuries but Gayle was encouraged by the victory against the Prime Minister's XI, a match reduced by rain and decided by the Duckworth/Lewis method. "We got a good pitch to play on and the players responded very well. I enjoyed my time out in the middle and I am also happy that some of the other players such as Travis Dowlin (72) and Lendl Simmons (70 not out) also got good scores.
"We batted all the way down so overall we are happy with the performance. In the bowling everyone got a feel. We did not want to give any one bowler too much work. Overall as a team we know we have some work to do so we have a few more days to go where we will put in some more work in the nets so we can be fully ready to face Australia."
In Hyderabad, India's Yusuf Pathan lashed a double century to help West Zone record the highest successful fourth-innings chase in first-class cricket yesterday.
All-rounder Pathan smashed 210 not out to help his team overhaul a victory target of 536 set by South Zone and win the five-day final of the Duleep Trophy regional competition by three wickets.
West finished with 541 for 7, Pathan scoring the winning runs with his 10th maximum of his innings, beating the previous record of 513 for 9 scored by Central Province against Southern Province in Sri Lankan domestic cricket in the 2003-04 season.