Samuels backs Badree as World T20 'trump card'
Marlon Samuels was optimistic that the West Indies have found the right formula heading into their World T20 title defence in Bangladesh. Following a Man-of-the-Match performance in the opening T20 win against England in Barbados, where he struck an unbeaten 69 off 46 and picked up 2 for 21, he believed that their spin attack will be the key to retaining their trophy.
England laboured against West Indies' spinners - their combined tally was 6 for 45 off 10 overs - Samuels labelled Samuel Badree in particular as their "trump card" to bolster the team's chances of becoming the first team to defend a World T20 title, a feat Samuels tagged as "a personal target".
"Sunil Narine and Badree will be crucial players for us in Bangladesh's conditions which suit West Indies cricket," he said. "Badree's a wonderful bowler and he showed it again today by picking up early wickets.
"We were surprised that the pitch favoured spin because Bajan pitches are usually known more for their pace but regardless of the pitch and its bounce, we have some pretty good spinners who use the new ball well. I think England will have to go back to the drawing board and reconsider using more spinners.
"We knew the record of this ground and we wanted to post a total of around 160 or 165. It was good for us to get more than we bargained for. We had a plan and put in an all-round performance and it all came together for us at the end so we have to keep working hard at it and come up with the goods more often than not."
However, Samuels acknowledged West Indies could improve on their performance, particularly towards the closing overs where they were restricted by England. Samuels added that they would not be underestimating Stuart Broad's team, who came from 1-0 down to claim the one-day series in Antigua.
Samuels said this series was particularly important for him as he works his way back to full fitness follow the chronic wrist injury which forced him home from the New Zealand tour and the groin problem which restricted him to one ODI last week. He is crucial to West Indies' middle order which will be lacking the power of Kieron Pollard for the World T20 but Samuels is not feeling any added pressure.
"It's tough coming off back-to-back injuries last year. I put in some serious work to regain fitness and I'm still getting there. There's no pressure regarding Pollard. We're usually a bunch of confident guys but not too overconfident. We'll take it ball-by-ball, game-by-game and whatever the team wants or requires of me, I'll go out there and try to do it to the best of my ability."
While Samuels kept his cool with the bat, in the field there was a heated exchanged with Ravi Bopara but he played down the argument as "in the heat of the moment" and said there was no lingering issue even though Broad suggested otherwise. "Ravi said something out there that he shouldn't have and I didn't like it. But he came and apologised after. He's a wonderful person and a great cricketer and I have a good relationship with him," Samuels said.
West Indies management also confirmed that Narine will be undergoing a CT scan on Monday on his knee after an attempted slide to save a boundary resulted in his foot getting stuck in the ground and hurt his knee. He left the field after two overs and with West Indies winning comfortable was not risked again.
West Indies remained optimistic and deemed the scan as "a precautionary measure" as advised by the team's physiotherapist. They also allayed concerns over Badree who left the field for treatment on his hand after dropping a stiff return catch off Eoin Morgan as "nothing too serious."
Renaldo Matadeen is a sportswriter and social media manager for ESPN Caribbean. He tweets here