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England and Windies Prepare for T20I Battle With World Cup in Focus

While the ODIs were another step forward in the right direction for Windies who are finally developing an identity once again, England have been left scratching their heads after producing both world-class and thoroughly average performances in the same series.

Cricketnext Staff |March 5, 2019, 12:02 PM IST
England and Windies Prepare for T20I Battle With World Cup in Focus

England and Windies head into the upcoming three-match T20I series in contrasting moods. While the ODIs were another step forward in the right direction for Windies who are finally developing an identity once again, England have been left scratching their heads after producing both world-class and thoroughly average performances in the same series.

The fourth ODI in Grenada, for example saw England making a mammoth 418/6, Jos Buttler scoring 150 off just 77 balls, and the overall performance ticking all the boxes for the visitors.

On the other hand, England crumbled to 113 in the fifth and final ODI, and Windies took just 12.1 overs to overcome that target.

With the World Cup around the corner, the focus of every participating team is getting closer to figuring out their winning combinations. But for England, as ex-captain Michael Vaughan put it, equally important is to stop having “moments of madness” if they are to stand a chance of doing well on home soil in the showpiece event.

“England have got everything required to win the World Cup except for these moments of madness,” he had told the BBC after the fifth ODI against Windies.

“It happens every four or five games and if it happens in the semi-final then they are out. The India side around the time they won the 2011 World Cup didn't have the day England had in Barbados on Friday.

“That's my concern for them in the World Cup.”

Windies, on the other hand, have had an upturn in fortunes. They were victorious in the Test series and didn’t lose the ODI series. And with veterans like Chris Gayle and Darren Bravo back in the team and performing well, the landscape of West Indian cricket suddenly looks more promising than anyone would have expected it to a few months back.

Gayle summed it up: “It’s been a fantastic series – to be able to tie it 2-2 is great. The bowlers deserve credit. Chasing a small target (in the final ODI), you can be wary – I wanted to put them on the back foot early, We will get some respect as a unit after this, going into the World Cup. We’re very capable of winning games in England and beating any particular team out there.”

Shimron Hetmyer

By virtue of being a limited overs format, the T20I series which begins with the first match at the Beausejour Stadium in St. Lucia will give both teams another chance at gauging the ammunition they possess. But “limited overs” is where the similarity ends between both formats, T20 being a completely different ball game.

Windies has taken an interesting approach to the series, naming their entire ODI squad for the T20I series as well in an effort to ensure that the squad gets to spend as much time together as possible before the World Cup.

England have named a youthful squad, and the likes of Alex Hales and Sam Curran will get another chance to prove that their name should be on the list when it’s finally time to pick a squad that will carry the hopes of a nation in the home World Cup.

Curran in particular will be licking his lips at the prospect of getting to bowl on the same pitch that saw Oshane Thomas picking up five wickets in the last ODI. The young quick has all the tools in his bowling armoury, and if given a pitch which is helpful, has the potential to wreak havoc.

Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler will be rested for the series, while Jason Roy will also miss out as he returns home for the birth of his first child.

Nicholas Pooran’s name stands out when one glances through the Windies squad. The batsman was hardly used in the ODI series, but the T20I series could be the perfect platform for him to show what he can offer. He stood out in the T10 league and the Mzansi Super League, and if he gets going, it’s almost like having another Gayle at the top of the order.

The Windies unit will be led by Jason Holder which might leave the regular T20I captain Carlos Brathwaite a bit non-plussed but with the 2019 World Cup just a few months away it is understood the hosts wanted a bulk of the ODI squad to spend more time together before the quadrennial event. Andre Russell, who was expected to be in the squad has been forced to miss out after picking a  knee injury in the Pakistan Super League.

England will be desperate to return home on a positive note after a victorious T20I series, but the shorter the format becomes, the more threatening Windies looks. And the series could go a long way in determining both teams’ mental makeup as we inch closer to the quadrennial event which England are expected to make their own.

Squads

England: Eoin Morgan (captain), Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow, Sam Billings, Tom Curran, Joe Denly, Alex Hales, Chris Jordan, Dawid Malan, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, David Willey, Mark Wood

Windies: Jason Holder (captain), Fabian Allen, Devendra Bishoo, Carlos Brathwaite, Darren Bravo, John Campbell,  Sheldon Cottrell, Chris Gayle, Shimron Hetmyer, Shai Hope,  Ashley Nurse, Nicholas Pooran, Oshane Thomas

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2 New Zealand 2829 109
3 South Africa 2917 108
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1 England 6745 125
2 India 7071 122
3 New Zealand 4837 112
4 Australia 5543 111
5 South Africa 5193 110
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1 Pakistan 7365 283
2 England 4253 266
3 India 8411 263
4 Australia 5471 261
5 South Africa 4407 259
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