The contrasts in their inherent approach promises an intriguing contest -- thorough England versus passionate West Indies -- in the World Twenty20 final
Kolkata: Both England and the West Indies have come to the Eden Gardens to reclaim lost territory. It was in England that T20 cricket first flowered, before the game’s shortest format found new homes and new heroes. The West Indies, who ruled world cricket for close to three decades, are hardly ever considered contenders at a world tournament these days.
West Indies’ dangerman Chris Gayle hits a six against England at Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai on March 16, watched by wicketkeeper Jos Buttler. The Caribbeans ended up winning by six wickets. Pic/Getty Images
On Sunday, when two pre-tournament ‘outsiders’ clash in the final of the World T20, there will be more than the crown at stake. The contrasts in their inherent approach to cricket promises an intriguing contest — studied and well-researched responses pitted against raw power and passion. With not much pre-tournament momentum to ride on, both teams have had to grow during the meet. Taking lessons from early knocks to emerge stronger, they learnt to adapt and make course corrections till they had enough to end the hopes of two ‘favourites’ in the semis. England, their seamers stifling NZ with exemplary ‘death over’ stuff, were matched the next day by the WI power-hitting as India were sent packing.
The green tinge suggests that wicket, in a departure from those provided for the earlier matches here, will lend itself nicely to stroke-making and the pressure will be back on the bowlers to keep batsmen on a tight leash. While that suggests a nice battle between the WI power-hitters and the yorker-bowling Englishmen, Eoin Morgan too can look forward to some form men in his line-up. Joe Root, Jason Roy and Jos Buttler have all the got runs to suddenly lend England’s top-order a ‘dangerous’ tag. England and the West Indies are among teams that have played the least number of T20 Internationals since the last World T20, in Bangladesh in 2014.
In the backdrop of that “lack of preparation”, and in conditions that were supposed to blunt their inherent strengths, the two teams have underlined the value of adaptability and self-belief.
Chris Gayle’s 48-ball 100 had WI sailing past England in their tournament opener. Ironically, it is the burly opener’s subsequent failure that has had his team emerge stronger as others stepped up to do the job. He will, of course, remain the biggest threat to England’s aspirations. Will Gayle sign off from what is surely his last World T20 with another gale?