Polished England takes on impulsive West Indies

The Windies are out to prove they are still a force in the shortest form of the game despite their declining Test status, while England wants to atone for a humiliating early exit from last year’s 50-over World Cup.

In the enigmatic Gayle West Indies possesses a batsman capable of destroying whatever bowling attack he faces and single-handedly winning any match.   -  PTI

They say what you don’t know can’t hurt you.

Why else would Eoin Morgan bank on the naivety of youth to prevail over his squad’s lack of experience of Indian conditions? And, how exactly does he plan to ensure England don’t leave yet another global tournament empty-handed?

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Unbelievably enough, only five of the 15 playing members in England’s touring party have ever played on these shores. Throw an unpredictable bunch from the West Indies — so very accustomed to the smells, sounds, pitches and weather of this country — into the mix and you couldn’t ask for a better match-up to kick things off in Group 1 at the Wankhede here on Wednesday.





Not only is the England squad battling the odds, but it also up against history. The 2010 champion’s record in Twenty20 Internationals against the West Indies — four wins and eight losses — is an eyesore. Make that 0-3 at the World Twenty20. It’s a different matter, though, that the teams last engaged in a 40-over joust more than two years ago.

But once you are done skimming through the record books, you realise this is an altogether different England — one that’s capable of cracking the white-ball code and one that doesn’t necessarily evoke pithy laughter. This England is about the opening collaboration of Alex Hales and Jason Roy, the middle-order solidity of Joe Root and Morgan, the power and presence of Ben Stokes, the spin alliance of Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid, and the pace battery of Chris Jordan, Liam Plunkett, David Willey and Reece Topley. This England is about utility, about versatility. This England looks the part. This England is not here to just make up the numbers.

All that and more was visible during its warm-up victories — against New Zealand and a Mumbai Cricket Association XI — in the space of three days.

But when relative inexperience locks horns with deadly unpredictability, the outcome is best left to take care of itself.

The West Indies, winners of the 2012 edition in Sri Lanka, come into this tournament with its own set of problems. A contract dispute, for instance. By losing to India on one night and taming Australia a couple of days later, the party boys of cricket proved yet again that putting your money on them can be a tricky proposition.

Read: >Sammy banks on experience

Not for them the meticulous planning involving video analysts. Not for them those Churchillian speeches. All they have to do is play to potential, and England will be left red-faced. Let’s just hope Chris Gayle plays like he usually does in domestic leagues the world over. Mumbaikars would totally love that.

SQUADS

>England: Eoin Morgan (Captain), Moeen Ali, Sam Billings, Jos Buttler (Wicketkeeper), Liam Dawson, Alex Hales, Chris Jordan, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, Reece Topley, James Vince, David Willey

>West Indies: Darren Sammy (Captain), Samuel Badree, Sulieman Benn, Carlos Brathwaite, Dwayne Bravo, Johnson Charles, Andre Fletcher, Chris Gayle, Jason Holder, Evin Lewis, Ashley Nurse, Denesh Ramdin (Wicketkeeper), Andre Russell, Marlon Samuels, Jerome Taylor

T20I RECORD

England

Played: 81, Won: 38, Lost: 38, Tied: 1, NR: 4

West Indies

Played: 71, Won: 33, Lost: 33, Tied: 3, NR: 2

HEAD TO HEAD RECORD

Overall

Played: 12, England: 4, West Indies: 8

World Twenty20

Played: 3, England: 0, West Indies: 3

LAST FIXTURE

Jordan’s all-round show floors Windies

England beat West Indies by five runs in Bridgetown on March 13, 2014 At the very ground where he gave throwdowns to Brian Lara as a teenager, Chris Jordan put up a brilliant all-round show (27 runs and three for 39) to take England home. He smashed four sixes off Dwayne Bravo in the final over of the innings before claiming the wickets of Johnson Charles, Marlon Samuels and Denesh Ramdin. He also picked up a brilliant catch to get rid off, well, Bravo as England defended 165.

PITCH & WEATHER

According to a seasoned administrator here, the pitch will be perfect for batting. “It’s a 180 pitch. And, if the curator decides to go for another round of shaving, you can make that 190 or, even 200,” the official said. Spinners will surely get purchase, though. With the maximum temperature expected to be around 31 degrees Celsius, all one can say is that the weather is going to be just perfect for cricket.

SNIPPET

In your face

England’s Joe Root suffered an injury scare at the Wankhede on Tuesday morning. The right-hander, who is inarguably one of the world’s best, was struck in the face during fielding practice. A catch sent down by head coach Trevor Bayliss was deflected, thereby leaving the baby-faced vice-captain with little time to respond. Thankfully, it didn’t the 25-year-old too long to get back to business.