West Indies: Can the Caribbean giants do it twice in a row at WT20?

Cricketnext Staff | Updated: March 18, 2014, 2:29 PM IST
West Indies: Can the Caribbean giants do it twice in a row at WT20?

The defending champions warmed up for their World Twenty20 title defence beating England 2-1 in the three-match Twenty20 series at home. But before that was a reality check - a T20 loss to Ireland at home, which perhaps came at the right time to wake the Windies up to the challenge that lies ahead.

With match-winners like batsmen Chris Gayle and Marlon Samuels, allrounders Dwayne Bravo and Darren Sammy and mystery spinner Sunil Narine in the team, West Indies have enough gunpowder in their barrels to do it twice in a row.

But in Group 2 of the Super 10 stage, West Indies are placed with 2007 champions India, 2009 winners Pakistan and a trophy-hungry Australian team, which means the Caribbean giants have their task cut out. Here's a brief look at the squad, its past performances and chances this year.

Strengths: Gayle was central to West Indies' World Twenty20 title win in 2012 and his big hitting is expected to carry the side's flag again this year, assisted by limited-overs experts Dwayne Bravo, Dwayne Smith, Lendl Simmons and Andre Russell. Many of their players, as many as eight, have the experience of playing in the IPL, which will help them in similar conditions in Bangladesh.

Windies' strength also lies in their allrounders - with Sammy, Dwayne Bravo, Gayle, Russell, Samuels and Smith able to perform appreciably with both bat and bowl. Add to that their economical and wicket-taking tweakers Narine and Samuel Badree, the balance of the side looks even better.

Weaknesses: The biggest blow for West Indies has been the injury to Kieron Pollard that has ruled him out of the tournament.

Though they beat England 2-1 in a T20 series at home before landing in Bangladesh, the Windies lost six of the last 13 T20 Internationals they played. More significantly, they lost six of the last nine within the last year. That leaves a big question mark over their consistency, which has been their Achilles heel for many years now.

Past performances at World Twenty20:

2007: The first edition saw the worst performance from the West Indies in the World Twenty20. They lost all their matches in the group phase, including a loss to Bangladesh, to bow out of the tournament in South Africa at the group stage itself.

2009: West Indies played well in the tournament beating Australia, India and England on their way to the semi-finals, where they lost to Sri Lanka in a one-sided encounter. Gayle was once again the top scorer for the Windies while Dwayne Bravo picked up ten wickets.

2010: The Caribbean team began the tournament well with wins over England and Ireland in Group D, which took them to Super 8 stage where defeats to Sri Lanka and Australia ended their chances of reaching the semis.

2012: After barely managing to reach the Super 8 on the basis of a better net run rate than Ireland, West Indies got their act together to beat England and New Zealand in Super 8 to book a semi-final berth, where they thumped the Aussies by 74 runs. In the final, the Sammy-led team beat hosts Sri Lanka by 36 runs to lift their maiden title.

Chances this year: West Indies will start as one of the favourites in the March 16 to April 6 tournament. They were impressive in their T20 series win over England, winning the first two matches convincingly before narrowly losing the third. They are in a tough group that includes India, Australia, Pakistan and a yet-to-be known qualifier, but as defending champions the Windies are as much a threat to their opponents as they are to them.

Squad: Darren Sammy (captain), Samuel Badree, Dwayne Bravo, Johnson Charles, Sheldon Cottrell, Andre Fletcher, Chris Gayle, Sunil Narine, Denesh Ramdin, Ravi Rampaul, Andre Russell, Marlon Samuels, Krishmar Santokie, Lendl Simmons, Dwayne Smith.

March 23: India vs West Indies, Mirpur
March 25: West Indies vs TBC (Qualifier A1), Mirpur
March 28: Australia vs West Indies, Mirpur
April 1: Pakistan vs West Indies, Mirpur

First Published: March 18, 2014, 2:29 PM IST

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