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A fresh start awaits West Indies and England ahead of T20 World Cup

Last updated on 22 Jan 2022 | 06:26 AM
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A fresh start awaits West Indies and England ahead of T20 World Cup

With the World Cup slated to commence later in the year, the two sides eye for new beginnings after contrasting ends to their campaign last year

23rd October 2021: One of the anticipated games in the last edition of the World Cup was the rematch of the summit clash of the 2016 T20 World Cup in Kolkata. 

With two heavyweights in the shortest format of the game, West Indies and England, locking horns, the cricket frenzy fans expected a Saturday night blockbuster. 

However, what followed later scripted the downfall of the Windies as they were bundled out for 55, their lowest ever in the marquee event. While their six-hitting approach has been one of the catalysts behind their rise at the international level, the lack of application showcased by the batting unit on the sluggish wickets at the United Arab Emirates did not help their cause. 

The defending champions lost four out of the five league matches to end a dismal campaign and draw curtains on a glorious era of dominance by the Men in Maroon. 

On the other hand, England were touted to be one of the firm favourites to lift the coveted trophy but faltered in the semi-finals against New Zealand. 

The Three Lions have been the most dominant side in the white-ball format over the past couple of years, and their fifty-over World Cup triumph at the Home of Cricket is the testimony of the method Eoin Morgan and his troops want to play the sport. 

Eyes on Pollard as Windies aim for redemption 

The Windies are coming in this series at the back of a clean sweep against Pakistan away from home and will be desperate to find their mojo and get back to winning ways. While Kieron Pollard was ruled out of the series against Pakistan due to an injury, he will be keen to build a team for the upcoming World Cup after a lukewarm performance. 

In a pre-match press conference, the 34-year old highlighted the importance of the batting unit to shoulder the responsibility of the side in this form of the game. 

"We need to improve the way we play because our batting has definitely been a problem for us. The good thing is that we have some new faces in the group, guys looking to make a name for themselves in our international scene. It's like we are starting from scratch, so we need to do the basics right," he said. 

In the recently concluded World Cup, the Windies have struggled on the slow wickets and scored at a run rate of 6.8 runs per over in the first six overs during the field restrictions and at a rate of 5.4 in the middle overs. 

With lack of boundaries in the powerplay and the pressure of the run rate, the batting unit has often taken risks, resulting in their downfall. The team has lost a wicket every 14.2 deliveries in the World Cup, the worst among the top ten teams indicating a glaring issue in their batting department. With home conditions on offer, the team will set foot at the Kensington Oval with an opportunity to rebuild in this five-match series against quality opposition.  

England's bench strength in focus

With a plethora of players missing in action in this series, the focus of the visiting team will be on fine-tuning their squad and testing their bench strength ahead of the World Cup. 

After a 4-0 Ashes drubbing, Sam Billings is the only member of the squad to join the team from Australia as the England team management decided to rest Jos Buttler and Jonny Bairstow for the series. The last time these two teams competed in a bilateral series was back in 2019, with England registering a thumping 3-0 win away from home. While the core members of the playing XI from the 2019 clean sweep will be missing in action, the team can take solace from their performance in the past couple of seasons in this format.

In T20 internationals since 2019, England have scored at a run rate of 9 runs per over and have a ball per boundary ratio of 5.2, which is the best among the top ten teams.

"A lot of talented guys will get opportunities throughout this series which is very exciting, not only for the team but for them as well. The whole tour is one where the development of our game is more important than a series win," Morgan said on the eve of the first game. 

With the emergence of The Hundred and the players competing in franchise leagues across the world, the Three Lions will have a slight edge as they take on the resurgent Windies. 

Probable XI:

West Indies: Brandon King, Kyle Mayers, Nicholas Pooran (wk), Roston Chase, Kieron Pollard (capt), Jason Holder, Fabian Allen, Odean Smith, Dominic Drakes, Akeal Hosein, Sheldon Cottrell

England: Jason Roy, Tom Banton, Liam Livingstone, Moeen Ali, Eoin Morgan, Sam Billings (wk), Liam Dawson, Chris Jordan, Adil Rashid, Tymal Mills, Saqib Mahmood

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