T20 World Cup: Sluggish West Indies faces red-hot England

It's a battle between a side tailor-made for the shortest format, and one that has revolutionised its limited-overs cricket.

West Indies lost both its warm-up games in the T20 World Cup.   -  AP

Five-and-a-half years after Carlos Brathwaite hit four successive sixes off Ben Stokes' bowling to win the World Twenty20 final for West Indies, the defending champion will renew its T20 World Cup rivalry with England in Dubai on Saturday.

However, both men involved in that epoch-defining over at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata are missing here. Stokes continues to take an indefinite break while Brathwaite wasn't added to the World Cup squad. There are more notable absentees in Jofra Archer and Sunil Narine.

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It is against this backdrop of missing names that a wide palette of power-hitters from both sides will try to outmuscle each other. As impressive as Eoin Morgan’s captaincy has been, England will need him to contribute with runs. How Moeen Ali is used could be crucial. He can bat at No. 3 in place of Dawid Malan, whose form in the warm-ups — a run-a-ball 18 and 11 from 15 — didn't inspire confidence.

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In Mark Wood and Tymal Mills, England's bowling attack has the extra pace that could provide an edge. Chris Jordan is an able death-overs specialist. But England has just one frontline spinner in Adil Rashid; Moeen and Livingstone as backups make it a spin-heavy line-up.

For West Indies, the spin attack is weaker for Narine's absence. Fabian Allen was ruled out of the World Cup due to an ankle injury. Left-arm spinner Akeal Hosein replaced him. Hayden Walsh, who was outstanding against Australia in July, is the wrist-spinning option. They have three good quicks in Obed McCoy, Dwayne Bravo and Ravi Rampaul. Roston Chase was rewarded for a great CPL with the bat. His off-spin will be useful against England, a side with at least two left-handers in the top six.

West Indies' batting order has enviable depth, with Kieron Pollard, Andre Russell and Chris Gayle — his lean patch is a worry — headlining it. Nicholas Pooran, Evin Lewis and Bravo add more heft.

The dimension of the ground will also play a factor. The pitches on the edge of the square have smaller boundaries on one side. Both sides will try to exploit it with a right-left combination should those surfaces be used.

It's a battle between a side tailor-made for the shortest format, and one that has revolutionised its limited-overs cricket. But on Saturday, the team that adapts better and faster will win.

Teams (from)
  • West Indies: Kieron Pollard, Nicholas Pooran, Fabian Allen, Dwayne Bravo, Roston Chase, Andre Fletcher, Chris Gayle, Shimron Hetmyer, Evin Lewis, Obed McCoy, Lendl Simmons, Ravi Rampaul, Andre Russell, Oshane Thomas, Hayden Walsh Jr.
  • England: Eoin Morgan, Moeen Ali, Jonathan Bairstow, Sam Billings, Jos Buttler, Tom Curran, Chris Jordan, Liam Livingstone, Dawid Malan, Tymal Mills, Adil Rashid, Jason Roy, David Willey, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood.
  • Match starts at 7.30pm IST.

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