Fiery West Indies take on fearless England

Both sides looking to become first team to lift trophy twice

Reuters April 03, 2016
West Indian skipper Darren Sammy poses with the World T20 trophy alongside his England counterpart Eoin Morgan ahead of the final clash between the two sides. PHOTO: AFP


West Indies’ rag-tag army of short-format mercenaries will be hoping they have the weapons to overcome a fearless England in today’s World T20 final as both sides target the honour of being the first to claim a second title in the tournament.

For a group of players who nearly boycotted the event over a contractual dispute with their board, Darren Sammy and his troops have waltzed into the Kolkata final displaying all the Caribbean flair that has earned them global admiration.

If T20 cricket is essentially about power-hitting, no team does it better and more unabashedly than the West Indies.

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England have first-hand knowledge of that destructive potency, having been blown away by Chris Gayle’s 47-ball century in a Super 10 shellacking in Mumbai a fortnight ago.

Revenge may be regarded as a dish best served cold but Eoin Morgan’s men would probably like nothing more than to exact it in the heat of a World Cup final.

A task easier said than done against a West Indies outfit packed with swashbuckling players who ply their trade in lucrative T20 leagues around the globe.

What makes the job doubly difficult is that Sammy’s men have proved in India that they are more than just a one-man army who bank on Gayle to punch holes in their opponents.

Marlon Samuels, Lendl Simmons and Andrew Russell have stepped out of their illustrious team mate’s shadow and made their own mark in the last month.

“We said this before the tournament that Chris is under pressure,” said Sammy after the exhilarating semi-final victory against hosts India.

“He is our best T20 player but we have 15 match-winners in this side.”

Different England to turn up in final, says Morgan

West Indies will face a completely different England side in the final compared to the one they beat in the Super 10 stage match, captain Eoin Morgan said on the eve of the title clash.

Doubts crept in about England’s prospects in the sixth edition of the tournament after West Indies chased down a 182-run target at the Wankhede Stadium with almost two overs to spare, riding on an unbeaten century from opener Chris Gayle.

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But the 2010 champions made significant improvement in their last two matches, including a morale-boosting victory over an in-form New Zealand side in the semi-finals, to inch closer to a second T20 title.

“I think it’s two completely different teams given that we have grown as a side,” Morgan told reporters at the Eden Gardens. “I think it’s difficult to compare sides from the first game of the tournament to the final of the World Cup.”

While Gayle is due for a big score having made little impact on the tournament since his blitzkrieg against England, Morgan said England could not afford to only focus on the Jamaican.

“Even before we played West Indies in the group stages I was quite firm in saying that Gayle wasn’t just the West Indies team,” said the 29-year-old who is himself due for runs.

“It’s important that when you are playing against good sides you do not focus on one or two good players. It’s everybody, because anybody can hurt you.

“I think India witnessed that and everybody watching the game witnessed that with Lendl Simmons’ innings.”

Published in The Express Tribune, April 3rd, 2016.

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