BUOYANT?and brimming with supreme confidence after Sunday’s blow-out performance, the West Indies will be seeking to close out the T20 series against England at Kensington Oval today in the second match of the three-match series.
Having outplayed England in every facet of the game over the weekend in Sunday’s 27-run victory, the home team will be heartened by the news that spin wizard Sunil Narine has recovered from the knee injury he suffered on Sunday.
Narine was due to have a scan yesterday morning but it was not required. That means the West Indies will have all 15 players available for selection for today’s clash which is expected to have another capacity crowd.
Narine appeared to jar his knee badly in attempting a sliding save on the third man boundary in the seventh over of the England reply, during the opening T20I at Kensington Oval on Sunday.
The 25-year-old Trinidadian is the leader of the Windies attack in the game’s shorter formats, and currently tops the ICC T20 bowling rankings.
West Indies captain Darren Sammy will no doubt want a series win as a launchpad for the next month’s Twenty20 World Cup in Bangladesh.
“It is a great feeling to be World champions but that’s all gone. When we get to Bangladesh it’s a fresh start and everyone’s got to do again what they did in Sri Lanka [two years ago], which is to play as a team, play for the people and the goal was to win the title.
“This time around it is to defend the title and the lads are quite confident and they’ve been working hard in order for us to retain that title.”
West Indies easily defended their total of 170 with Narine and compatriot Samuel Badree mesmerising the England top order. Much is once again expected of the 33-year-old Badree, whose leg breaks accounted for Michael Lumb, Alex Hales and Luke Wright on Sunday.
The home side may switch their pace-bowling options around and have a look at either Krishmar Santokie and Sheldon Cottrell, the two left-armers in the squad.
Both teams have a lot riding on this series. The West Indies may be World champions and have the most explosive players in the game in Chris Gayle, Dwayne Smith and Marlon Samuels but they are fifth in the world T20 rankings and must win this tournament to close the gap on the top four – Sri Lanka, India, South Africa and Pakistan.
England are under more pressure. At a low ebb following the disastrous tour of Australia, England seem to have lost the art of winning and are among the weakest teams in this format of the game.
They are eighth in the world rankings, lowest among the established cricket nations, and have won just one of their last seven T20 series.
What’s more, captain Stuart Broad is struggling with patellar tendonitis and out of the series. The dip in form of exciting all-rounder Ben Stokes, the bright spot on the tour of Australia, is also a worry.
England’s batting lacks quality and depth and much will depend on the 27-year-old Irishman Eoin Morgan, who has taken over as captain, and Ravi Bopara, who has a liking for the West Indies’ bowling as evidenced by his three Test tons in three innings against the Caribbean men.
West Indies (possible) Darren Sammy (captain), Chris Gayle, Dwayne Smith, Marlon Samuels, Lendl Simmons, Dwayne Bravo, Denesh Ramdin (wk), Andre Russell, Sunil Narine, Ravi Rampaul, Samuel Badree.
England (possible) Eoin Morgan (captain), Alex Hales, Michael Lumb, Moeen Ali, Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler (wk), Ravi Bopara, Tim Bresnan, James Tredwell, Jade Dernbach, Stephen Parry.