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ICC T20 World Cup: Veterans eye title hat-trick for West Indies

West Indies will enter the T20 World Cup as one of the favourites to lift the trophy—for the third time after 2012 and 2016.

The two-time world champions have selected a star-studded squad for the campaign they are going into the tournament with an army of veterans, including the Universe Boss, Chris Gayle and Dwayne Bravo, who have featured every single T20 World Cup that has taken place so far.

Gayle might not be in the best shape or form of his life, but his presence in the dressing room and the playing XI will give confidence to the unit and shivers to the opposition, respectively.

Anyone who follows cricket knows that once he gets going, the opposition has very thin chances of making a comeback.

Apart from Gayle, the Caribbean Giants will have the services of vastly experienced cricketers like captain Kieron Pollard, Andre Russell, Lendl Simmons, Ravi Rampaul and Andre Fletcher.

All these men have been a part of the West Indies world cup-winning squads, either in 2012 or 2016.

If these veterans are not enough to lead their team to glory, they have outstanding batters like Nicholas Pooran, Evin Lewis and Shimron Hetmyer who can win games on their own.

Pooran and Hetmyer have not truly shined at the international stage so far, maintaining an average of 22.64 and 19.96 with a strike rate of 124.07 and 116.91, respectively. The duo is a prized possession for T20 franchises globally as well.

Moreover, the playing conditions in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is likely to favour the West Indies as well.

Though the team is not rated highly when it comes to facing spinners or having quality spin bowlers, they have won their two T20 World Cups in Asian conditions.

They have the kind of firepower in their batting line that they can read the spinners off the wicket and still smash them for big hits.

On the other hand, they have a bowling attack which is more suitable for slower tracks. Bravo and Pollard are medium-pacers, but they mostly rely on a change of pace that can be immensely handy on such pitches.

Furthermore, the addition of Obed McCoy will strengthen the bowling attack. The left-arm pacer has been massively impressive since he made his T20I debut in March 2019. The 24-year-old has played 12 games so far and has hunted 19 batsmen with an economy rate of just 7.70.

He is accurate and has a deceptive slow delivery, which can make him the go-to bowler for Pollard during the tournament.

The only potential weak link in the Windies squad is the dearth of quality spinners. Leg-spinner Hayden Walsh has been incredible in the recent past. The 29-year-old, who had made his international debut for the United States of America before playing for the Caribbean side, has taken 23 wickets in 26 games with an impressive economy rate of 7.59.

Though Walsh is a great addition to the side, he is the only frontline spinner in the squad. Other than him, Fabien Allen is the only option for the team.

Players to watch out

Fabien Allen: The left-arm slow bowler may not be a magician with the ball, but he is an impact player. Allen can turn the game in his team’s favour with a couple of handy wickets, some useful blows with the bat down the order or even by taking a couple of spectacular catches in the field. He is the kind of player every team wants in their dugout.

Hayden Walsh: The leggie, being the frontline spinner, will have a key role to play if West Indies want to get anywhere near the trophy. He has proved his worth in the series against Australia, where he took 12 wickets in five matches. Walsh is not a big turner of the ball but he is intelligent and knows how to keep the batters quiet.

Obed McCoy: The left-arm pacer has been the pick of the bowler for the Windies. He is accurate and clever. He is not a tear-away fast bowler like Australia’s Mitchell Starc, instead, he is a smart campaigner, somewhat like Bangladesh’s Mustafizur Rahman, who is accurate and wily.

Recent form

The two-time World T20 Champions have won eight of the 14 completed 20-over contests in 2021. They defeated the mighty Australians by 4-1 in the five-match series in their backyard. With the impressive series victory, they once again announced themselves as a giant that can crush any side on their day.

What to expect?

West Indies are an unpredictable unit. They have a reputation that they can do anything at any time. They have nearly the perfect blend of experience and fresh blood and all of them are destructive players in their own right. If a couple of their players fire in each game, the Windies can be unstoppable and are very likely to retain the title.

Azeem Siddiqui

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Azeem Siddiqui
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