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March 8, 2014
Match FactsMarch 8, Barbados
Croft: Morgan is a very intelligent batsman
The Big Picture
Now the serious World T20 preparations can begin. The week ahead provides a valuable opportunity for the teams to fine-tune their plans ahead of Bangladesh.
Chris Gayle's return is crucial for West Indies although there will be plenty of crossed fingers that he is over his injury problems. Their top order did not pack anything like the same fear-factor without him in the ODIs and the stagnant starts were a major reason England were able to rebound and take the series
For England the whole trip has been geared towards the World T20, with a bespoke squad given a longer time to work together, and these three matches will provide a clearer idea of what Ashley Giles and Stuart Broad have in store. Their plans have taken a hit, however, with the injury to Joe Root although Alex Hales should be fit to resume his role at the top of the order
There will be a balance to strike for the captains and coaches: there is a series at stake, and professional pride will want to win it, but there may also be a temptation to ensure every player who is boarding a plane to Bangladesh gets at least one run out over these three matches.
In the spotlight
He's back. And West Indies will hope that Chris Gayle's return is not a false start this time. He can win Twenty20 matches in 10 overs; few players hit the ball harder or further. His comeback against Ireland - following the hamstring injury suffered against India last November - was a brief affair as a cautious approach was taken with a view to this format. A lack of cricket may hinder him, but then again Gayle could still swagger in and club the ball all over Kensington Oval.
Eoin Morgan has had a stop-start tour so far, struck by a knee injury during the warm-up match and playing just one of the ODIs where he was bowled third ball by Sunil Narine. Therefore this series is especially important for him to find his stride before reaching Bangladesh. In the absence of Kevin Pietersen, the onus will be on Morgan to bring that sprinkle of something special to the middle order and it will be interesting to watch how high he bats and how flexible the strategy with him is.
Having stuck with their main ODI squad in Antigua, West Indies now bring in their T20 specialists. Johnson Charles and Andre Fletcher are batting options, Samuel Badree provides a rolling legspinner, Andre Russell adds to the lower-order hitting, while Krishmar Santokie and Sheldon Cottrell provided the much sought-after left-arm angle.
West Indies (possible) 1 Chris Gayle, 2 Dwayne Smith, 3 Johnson Charles, 4 Marlon Samuels, 5 Dwayne Bravo, 6 Denesh Ramdin (wk), 7 Darren Sammy (capt), 8 Andre Russell, 9 Sunil Narine, 10 Ravi Rampaul, 11 Samuel Badree
Alex Hales will return to partner Michael Lumb after missing his one-day chance through injury so Moeen Ali could slip down a spot to cover for the absent Joe Root. Spin was a major success in the ODIs, but the Kensington Oval surface is unlikely to offer as much assistance so room may need to be found for an extra paceman, either Chris Jordan or Jade Dernbach. The latter will cause consternation among many England supporters.
England (possible) 1 Alex Hales, 2 Michael Lumb, 3 Moeen Ali, 4 Eoin Morgan, 5 Ben Stokes, 6 Jos Buttler (wk), 7 Ravi Bopara, 8 Tim Bresnan, 9 Stuart Broad (capt), 10 James Tredwell, 11 Chris Jordan
Pitch and conditions
The pitch is expected to be true and not favour the spinners so heavily as Antigua. Barbados can be, when the groundsman wishes, one of the surfaces in the Caribbean that retains some bounce to encourage the quicks.
Stats and trivia
"Yes, England did win the one-day series. But we've shown that, once we put them under pressure, they don't respond too well."
"It's going to be difficult to find a strategy that will work here in Barbados and also would work in Bangladesh as well."
Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfoFeeds: Andrew McGlashan
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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