Remember the Name! Ian Bishop exclaimed those words following a Carlos Brathwaite six to end a thrilling and even miraculous victory.
West Indies needed an improbable 19 runs from the last over, and Brathwaite smashed 4 sixes in a row off Ben Stokes to claim the trophy. The West Indies is the only two-time winner in this World Cup format, winning in 2012 and 2016.
Five years later from that memorable victory, the Windies will have the opportunity to repeat their winning ways when they square off with the rest of the world this October to November in India.
Here, we will assess their chances of a ‘threepeat.’
Deep Batting Lineup
The West Indies will head to the tournament barring injury with a strong batting lineup for this tournament. At the top of the order in the Sri Lankan series, the openers were Evan Lewis and Lendl Simmons. The two players are a good combination being Trinidadians, and they open the innings together for the national team. Evan Lewis is a talented batsman who is now putting together consistently better scores in the middle.
Lendl Simmons is the more senior player who is hitting stride once again after a man-of-the-match century in the Super 50 Cup final and contribution in the recent series.
There is also the potential for Shai Hope to be drafted into the team as an alternative to Simmonds or Lewis after a stellar ODI series. Hope was brilliant against Sri Lanka by scoring 1 hundred and 2 fifties.
The middle of the lineup has potency with the likes of Chris Gayle, Nicholas Pooran, Kieron Pollard. In Gayle and Pollard, there is a chance for some serious fireworks from the bat. Pooran sandwiched in between will bring guile but does play his explosive strokes. Gayle will be out to make his likely last international tournament a memorable one.
Completing the lineup with Jason Holder and Dwayne Bravo shows that this team will bat deep, and those death overs could bring big totals. Andre Russell is also back playing after niggling injuries and adds to the power of the lower middle order. The brilliance and depth of the batting order give this team a real shot at repeating.
Familiarity with conditions
The West Indies will field a team that will be thoroughly familiar with Indian conditions. Chris Gayle, Kieron Pollard, Dwayne Bravo, Jason Holder, Nicholas Pooran, and Andre Russell are now playing in the IPL tournament. They have played a combined 566 matches in the lucrative tournament. Gayle has the most centuries (6), the fastest century (175 not out), and the most sixes (352) at a spectacular average of 40.61 in the tournament’s history. Russell has the best strike rate in the tournament’s all-time list at 179.12 followed by Nicholas Pooran, third on the list.
These statistics prove that for these West Indian players, India has proven to be like their home away from home. Therefore, they are familiar with the stadiums, pitch conditions, and the general environment in which the matches will be played.
The fans in India love the flair and excitement the West Indian players bring to the game and see the team as one of their favorites.
The familiarity of the conditions will allow this team to settle quickly and to surprise in this tournament.
Lack of pressure
Although the West Indies are attempting to repeat as champions, there is no real pressure or expectation that they will need to meet from the fans.
The West Indies currently ranks 8th in the current ICC T-20 rankings due to past inconsistencies. Therefore, fans only want this team to play with effort, heart, and consistency and then live with the results.
Unlike the Windies, the pressure will be immense on the like’s of Virat Kohli and India to win the trophy on home soil.
The fans of this crazy cricket country will only be satisfied with a positive outcome for team India. The country has invested tremendously into the players and infrastructure and expects the team to produce on the field.
The pressure to win is on a team like England, who came agonizingly close in 2016 with a bitterly painful loss. Pressure is also on the Australian and South African teams who have never won this tournament before and are looking to break their ducks.
On the other hand, the West Indies can go out, play freely and enjoy their cricket. The team has proven twice in the previous decade that they thrive as the underdog and, with low expectations, can rise to the top of the heap. It is the lack of pressure that makes the Windies a serious threat to take the T-20 crown.
There is no coincidence that every time the Windies win the toss, the captain chooses to bowl first. The team knows it is the weakest aspect of their team. Like any good strategist, the captain and coaching team have employed this tactic to mask their deficiency. It has allowed them to win their series against the Sri Lankans.
However, if they are forced to put a total on the board, will they be able to defend it? That is a question the team must answer. Also, their death bowling will come under serious test in the tournament.
The ability to find the blockhole and to vary their length and line will come under strenuous test. However, the best way to peg scoring in T20’s is to take wickets.
Having Holder, Kemar Roache take early wickets will be important, and then Bravo on the backend with his variation will be necessary at the death. However, if a young bowler from the current crop can rise to the challenge, they could prove to be the x-factor the Windies will need.
The Windies indeed have a shot of repeating because of their deep batting, the familiarity of the conditions, and the lack of pressure on them.
However, their bowling might prove to be their downfall. They have a shot but will they…..that will have to be determined on the field.
IPL stats: https://www.iplt20.com/stats/all-time
Readers Bureau, Contributor
Edited by Jesus Chan
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