Cold, wet and windy are the words that have dominated the World Cup so far. More than the players and the results, the weather has become the talking point. Both England and the West Indies would want to shift the focus back to cricket, when they face off at the Hampshire Bowl on Friday, even with the ominous forecast of rain.
So far, England has four points in three games, whereas West Indies is just one point behind — its last game against South Africa was washed out — and for both teams the fixture at Southampton is crucial as a couple of points could prove decisive in the business end of the tournament.
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After a shocking defeat against Pakistan earlier in the tournament, host and favourite, England delivered an all-round show against Bangladesh to bring its campaign back on track. With Jason Roy, who hammered a 153, in prime form, England will be bolstered by the return of Jos Buttler, who has recovered from a bruise in the hip.
However, England sweats over the fitness of its quick Mark Wood, who had some discomfort in his knee after the side’s game against Bangladesh last Saturday. While the team management will take a call on him after a fitness test on Friday morning, spinner Moeen Ali will return to the playing XI, given the number of left-handers in the West Indies ranks.
All eyes, however, will be on Jofra Archer, the young Barbadian quick.
Having played his junior-level cricket in the Caribbean and qualified to play for England only last month, Archer could be a game-changer when the two sides meet.
That gives England the edge, at least on paper.
With rain leading to abandonment of games, the teams clearly aren’t enjoying the English summer.
Related: WI bowling coach Collymore banking on four pacers
The Jason Holder-led West Indies side, which started the tournament with much promise, thanks to its bowlers, lacked application in the batting department, costing it the game against Australia. While fast bowlers like Sheldon Cottrell and Jason Holder have done their bit, it’s time for the batsmen to step up.
The last time the two teams met in February this year, the ODI series ended at 2-2. But the series saw Chris Gayle in fiery form as he amassed 424 runs and hammered 39 sixes.
In the World Cup so far, the seasoned campaigner has not been in his elements and could only manage 71 runs in two innings. Now, with the team needing some steel in the batting front, it is over to the 'Universe Boss’!
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