Russell to hit Aussies with bouncer barrage


West Indies quick Andre Russell has warned he’s ready to hit Australia with more aggressive short stuff in Thursday’s World Cup clash.

But first he must overcome a knee injury, with both he and fellow superstar Chris Gayle leaving the West Indies sweating over their fitness.

Russell limped from the field with an injured knee in the West Indies’ flogging of Pakistan on Friday, but not before he wreaked havoc at Trent Bridge.

The former Sydney Thunder allrounder finished with figures of 2-4 from three overs, including the key scalp of Fakhar Zaman from a ball that bounced off the Pakistani opener’s helmet and onto the stumps.

And he said he would take a similar short-pitched approach against Australia on Thursday, not concerned by the defending champions being accustomed to bumpers on their hard home decks.

But Russell told reporters on Friday: “I’m not going to change anything, I’m going to be aggressive but be smart about it.

“Australian guys are used to fast bowling, but once you bowl aggressive to them anything can happen.

“Even though you can a lot of time be a good puller or better with the short balls, it all depends on the pace of the ball and line of the ball.

“If the ball is slightly wide, for you to pull a wide ball you have to get your bat around.

“That can cause a simple mistake, getting caught at fine leg or the boundary. And then game over for that batter.”

Quicks, Gayle spark stunning Windies win

Last Wednesday, Usman Khawaja avoided serious injury after being struck by a fierce Russell delivery in Australia’s seven-wicket World Cup warm-up win over the Windies in Southampton.

Australian batsman Khawaja was forced off the field when hit by a ball that reared off a length from his former Thunder teammate and caught him under the grill on his helmet, although subsequent hospital scans failed to show any serious injury to the 32-year-old.

Australia captain Aaron Finch – who will enter the match armed with his own hostile pace-bowling brigade – said he too felt short balls would play a significant role at the tournament.

“I think everyone will be using that (tactic), no doubt,” Finch said ahead of Australia’s World Cup opener with Afghanistan on Saturday night.

“With quite a few grounds being such short straight boundaries in England, and with such long square boundaries at times, depending on where you play, I think it’ll be a huge asset.”

Russell ready to make World Cup splash

Russell will require close attention from team medical staff this week on a long-running knee issue, although he remained confident he will face Australia.

“I have been playing for years with these knee injuries. Sometimes it feels worse than some days,” Russell said.

“But at the end of the day I am a professional – I know what to do to get back.

“I have five days before the next game and that is more than enough time to get my knee back to normal, to get it settled.”

Meanwhile, Gayle looked troubled by his ongoing back issues against Pakistan and at times limped between the wickets in his 50.

“The mere fact they sent the physio back off the field is promising signs,” captain Jason Holder said.

“We’ve got five days to see how he pulls up.”

2019 World Cup

Australia’s squad: Aaron Finch (c), Jason Behrendorff, Alex Carey (wk), Nathan Coulter-Nile, Pat Cummins, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Shaun Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Kane Richardson, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, David Warner, Adam Zampa

May 22: (warm-up) Australia beat West Indies by seven wickets

May 25: (warm-up) Australia beat England by 12 runs

May 27: (warm-up) Australia beat Sri Lanka by five wickets

June 1: Afghanistan v Australia, Bristol (D/N)

June 6: Australia v West Indies, Trent Bridge

June 9: India v Australia, The Oval

June 12: Australia v Pakistan, Taunton

June 15: Sri Lanka v Australia, The Oval

June 20: Australia v Bangladesh, Trent Bridge

June 25: England v Australia, Lord’s

June 29: New Zealand v Australia, Lord’s (D/N)

July 6: Australia v South Africa, Old Trafford (D/N)

July 9: Semi-Final 1, Old Trafford

July 11: Semi-Final 2, Edgbaston

July 14: Final, Lord’s

For a full list of all World Cup fixtures, click HERE

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