Two-time champions West Indies out to rekindle Calypso magic

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With their squad bereft of some of the stalwarts of the game, the West Indies have given some new blood a chance to make a name for themselves and usher in a new era of Calypso dominance.

Best finish at tournament 

Champions (2012 and 2016)

The most successful side in the history of the competition, West Indies are the only team who can claim to be two-time winners of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup.

In 2012, they managed to make it out of the Group stage by the skin of their teeth. After losing their first game to Australia, West Indies and Ireland met in a must-win clash. The game was called off due to rain and they qualified on net run rate with just one point to their name.

In the Super 8 stage, the Windies kicked off with a win over England but lost their next game to Sri Lanka. They emerged victorious over New Zealand in a Super Over to keep their tournament hopes alive. As a result of Sri Lanka beating England, the Daren Sammy-led side made it to the knockout stage by finishing second in Group 1.

They blew Australia away with the bat in the semi-final, posting a mammoth total of 205-6. In response, Australia were bowled out for just 131.

West Indies won their first World T20 title in 2012

The final was a low-scoring affair where West Indies had to defend 137 to win. An inspired bowling effort led by Sunil Narine’s 3-9 skittled Sri Lanka out for 101 as West Indies got their hands the T20 World Cup for the first time.

In 2016, West Indies had a near-perfect start in the Super 10 stage with wins over England, South Africa and Sri Lanka; the only blemish being Afghanistan upsetting them in their final game.

Playing India at their home, West Indies held their nerve to clinch a fiercely-contested clash by seven wickets and punched their ticket to the final to meet England.

In the final at Eden Gardens, chasing 156 for the win, West Indies needed 19 off the final over. Carlos Brathwaite produced one of the greatest moments in T20I history by smashing four consecutive sixes off Ben Stokes and etched his name in history as West Indies were crowned champions for the second time.

Results in the last 10 T20I games

(most recent first) L L W L L L L L W L

Fixtures

17 October: v Scotland
19 October: v Zimbabwe
21 October: v Ireland

Key match 

v Zimbabwe (October 19) – West Indies are one of the favourites to make it out of the group and Zimbabwe have emerged as one of the most improved teams in T20I cricket in recent times.

When the two teams clash in their second game of the tournament, not only is it going to be an exciting contest but also one that could decide their fate in the tournament.

The two teams have only faced off thrice against each other, the last time being in March 2013. West Indies hold the edge with two wins against Zimbabwe, though a lot has changed in the last nine years between the two teams.

Nicholas Pooran speaking at Captains’ Day

Key player 

Nicholas Pooran – Captain. Wicketkeeper. Middle-order lynchpin. In the absence of several key players who have bid farewell to the game, Pooran will undoubtedly be West Indies’ most important player at the T20 World Cup.

Having made his debut in 2016, it wasn’t until late 2018 that Pooran became a regular in the West Indies side. In 67 matches, he has scored 1398 runs at an average of 27.41 and a strike rate of 130.77. Being the most experienced member of the squad, there will be added responsibility on him, especially as a batter.

Following Kieron Pollard’s retirement earlier this year, Pooran was named the white-ball captain but the start to his stint as permanent skipper has been far from ideal with only three wins in 10 games.

The upcoming World Cup thus gives Pooran a chance to shine both as captain and batter. Though West Indies will want to make it deep into the tournament, Pooran’s first task will be to ensure that he can take his side into the Super 12 stage.

Summary

West Indies will enter the T20 World Cup, perhaps for the first time with an air of unfamiliarity. The two-time champions, once an unstoppable force in the shortest format, will have to go through the First Round before they can make it to the Super 12.

The dressing room too bears a new look, bereft with some of the stalwarts of the game who have now bid adieu. However, it gives the new blood a chance to make a name for themselves and usher in a new era of Calypso dominance.

At the forefront of it will be Pooran, who wears several caps – that of a captain, a middle-order enforcer with the bat and the man with the gloves behind the stumps. He is also their most in-form batter with the most runs this calendar year.

The recent emergence of Rovman Powell, Kyle Mayers and Brandon King and the return of Evin Lewis are certainly going to be a huge boost for West Indies heading into the marquee event.

Jason Holder will provide much-needed balance to the team, but his role as the leader of the bowling attack is likely to take over his ability with the bat. Holder has been the Windies’ most prolific bowler this year with 23 wickets and will be supported by Akeal Hossein and Obed McCoy.

Romario Shepherd and Odean Smith provide the team with much-needed firepower both with the bat and ball.

On paper, West Indies are favourites to make it to the Super 12 stage but how deep they go in the tournament will much depend on how their bowling attack comes together.

The lack of quality spin-bowling options might hurt the side in the latter stages of the tournament, especially on the bigger Australian grounds.

The absence of Shimron Hetmyer, who was dropped from the squad after missing his flight to Australia, leaves a gaping hole in the middle order. (ICC)

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