By Ravendra Madholall
West Indies will start off their participation in this year’s International Cricket Council T20 World Cup defense against England on Saturday (10:00am) in Dubai.
Fully aware of a neutral venue, but the English men might begin proceedings with the psychological advantage because of their rankings.
England hold the number 1 spot while West Indies are languishing at number 9 much to the consternation of their supporters.
When the last time the T20 World Cup took place in India five years ago, West Indies beat England in the final via a thrilling affair.
West Indies can maximize on their bragging rights though by being the only team to have lifted the coveted trophy twice since its inauguration, 2007.
They found themselves in Group one alongside some traditional powerhouse sides and those are Australia, South Africa, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
Not much time to get more equipped after suffering back-to-back defeats in the warm-up matches against Pakistan and Afghanistan. In both facets of the game, they were pathetic as they yielded 189 runs to Pakistan and then collapsed for 130-7 against the less-fancied Afghanistan.
Certainly, hopes are high that their most distinguished batsman Chris Gayle, predictably his final T20 outing, will come to the fore while some other T20 stars are expected to fire in all cylinders.
As much as the batting will center around the pugnacious left-handed Gayle, openers Evin Lewis and Lendl Simmons could make massive contributions. Skipper and hard-hitting middle-order batsmen Kieron Pollard and Andre Russell can be destructive too while the likes of Shimron Hetmyer and Nicolas Pooran have a chance to advertise to the cricketing world, they are future stars. New to this version of the game Roston Chase has shown consistency and may be an asset due to his all-round products while Andre Fletcher is known for his aggression if he finds himself anywhere in the playing eleven.
Dynamic all-rounder Dwayne Bravo might spearhead the bowling. Not only having the dignity of the leading T20 bowler around the globe, but his slower delivery has become effective. His Trinidadian compatriot Ravi Rampaul, a surprise return to the international scene, will bring experience and pace along with Oshane Thomas and Obed McCoy.
The spin department has two relatively young bowlers now learning the trade to dominate at the big stage. Leggy Hayden Walsh jr has made an impact while left-arm bowler Akeel Hosein should do well with his variation on some pitches likely to be very placid.