West Indies and England played a fascinating ODI series earlier this year which ended in a stalemate. There were lots of runs scored by the batters of both the teams and that was the series which announced the arrival of the dark horse that is West Indies. West Indies absolutely hammered Pakistan in their first game and gave a good account of themselves in the narrow loss against Australia. They were on top against South Africa when the rain arrived in their third game. The common fact among all these games is their bowling attack which has been brilliant.
West Indies have gone on the attack and have tested batters with short-pitched bowling and they have been successful so far. Their batting hasn’t been required to do much except for the game against Australia. All the batters look in good form and their bowling has been fantastic. West Indies aren’t expected to make any changes to the XI they played in their previous game.
For the favorites England through the start was mixed. After a fantastic start against South Africa, they were brought down to earth with a narrow loss against Pakistan. They did pick themselves up quickly and crushed Bangladesh by 106 runs in the third game. They are a very strong and balanced squad and on a good pitch, it will be difficult to contain their in-form batting line up. They had dropped Moeen Ali for an extra pacer against Bangladesh but again they might bring back the spinner against West Indies. Liam Dawson is also a good choice for a second spinner as Moeen Ali hasn’t been on greatest of forms recently. The rest of the XI has remained almost untouched as their batters have been in phenomenal form over the last year or so.
Head to Head:
England historically has a slight edge over West Indies in ODIs but in World Cup, though they have been dominating with a 5-1 record.
Jonny Bairstow (England): It is almost a given that West Indies would employ the same bouncer strategy they have been so successful within this tournament against England as well. The openers, in this case, Bairstow and Jason Roy become crucial to nullify that attack. Bairstow who is a Test played for England is a good player of the short ball and he will be expected to set the tone for the rest of the batting.
Adil Rashid (England): while England has a very good pace attack, Adil Rashid becomes crucial against a team like West Indies. The West Indies batters aren’t that comfortable against wrist spinners and Adil Rashid is one of the best in the business. He will be important in picking up wickets and keeping the runs down in the middle overs against some real power hitters.
Chris Gayle (West Indies): England has a very good attack and their batting is extremely powerful. Chris Gayle had a brilliant series against the same opposition earlier this year and has been in brilliant form. Opening the batting with the young Evin Lewis, Gayle would be expected to not only guide the youngster but also to set the tone at the top.
Oshane Thomas (West Indies): Oshane Thomas has been one of the crucial cogs in the West Indies bouncer strategy. He has been in brilliant bowling form and had gotten a 5 wicket haul against England in an ODI game earlier this year helping West Indies in bowling them out for just 113 runs. He is extremely quick and will pose a great threat to the English power hitters in this game.
What they said?
“He’s English, so no!” Said Jason Holder in jest when asked if Jofra Archer could have made it to West Indies XI, ‘It is just unfortunate how things went in terms of his decision-making but he is a good talent” he added.
“I think it is a moment where you reaffirm your decision,” said Eoin Morgan on the Archer topic drawing from his own experience of playing against Ireland. “The difference is the feel. When you play against guys that you’ve played with at age group level, it felt like a club game against your mates you’ve known for a long time, compared to playing against strangers – that’s the different feel.”
Jason Roy, Jonny Bairstow, Joe Root, Eoin Morgan, Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler, Chris Woakes, Adil Rashid, Liam Plunkett, Jofra Archer, Mark Wood/Moeen Ali/Liam Dawson
West Indies XI:
Chris Gayle, Evin Lewis, Shai Hope, Nicholas Pooran, Shimron Hetmyer, Jason Holder, Andre Russell, Carlos Brathwaite, Ashley Nurse, Sheldon Cottrell, Oshane Thomas
It is unfortunate the focus once again is on the weather ahead of this game as well. We have had a few games washed out this week and the weather does not look promising for the rest of the week as well. While the focus is on Jofra Archer who will be playing against his birth nation for the first time, there is a mouth-watering contest on cards though between two powerhouse teams. England through with their consistency and familiarity with the conditions, start as the favorites.