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March 12, 2014
Ian Bell could use the final T20 match in Bridgetown as an unexpected audition for World Twenty20
Match FactsMarch 13, Bridgetown
There could hardly be a greater gulf in expectations as West Indies and England meet for the last time before they head to Bangladesh for World Twenty20. West Indies have done enough to encourage expectations that they can put up a powerful defence of the trophy they won in similar conditions in Sri Lanka 17 months ago, whereas England's chances are held to be as poor as those of the football team heading for their own World Cup in Brazil in a few months' time.
England, after five successive T20 defeats, could turn to an unlikely saviour. Ian Bell has not played a Twenty20 international since January 2011, but expectations are high that he will take part in England's final warm-up match, even if his coach, Ashley Giles, has warned that he is not quite ready after being with the squad for only a few days.
England have been overcome by West Indies' greater weight of stroke in their defeats in the first two matches of this three-match series, and Bell, a slight figure with no penchant for six-hitting, is not about to change that, but he is regarded as one of England's most skilful players of spin, and that talent is in short supply.
We must wait to see whether Bell, called up to replace the injured Joe Root, can make good use of his experience -- almost 100 Tests and approaching 150 ODIs - in the shortest format, but for all his ability, his inclusion after being ignored so long seems to illustrate England's desperation for any sort of stability at the top of the order rather than a conviction that they have alighted on a new super-powered approach.
Form guide(completed matches, most recent first)
Watch out for
There is an ebullience about Darren Sammy, West Indies' captain, which wins approval from the neutral supporter. His unbeaten 30 from nine balls at Kensington Oval on Tuesday settled the second T20 and barring a reversal of fortune in the final encounter has ensured that he will lead the squad in Bangladesh in hearty frame of mind. If his batting can be potent, his bowling is vulnerable and his fielding inconsistent but West Indies have responded to his leadership in this form of the game.
What are we to make of the form of Alex Hales as he prepares for Bangladesh? Hales has had a disappointing six months, his rating for a time as the No 1 Twenty20 batsman in the world is hard to credit, and it is far from certain that Chittagong's slow turners will suit him. He showed hints of a return to form on Tuesday, but if England are to regain confidence in their top order, his resurgence would be the easiest way to achieve it.
With the series already won, it would be a surprise if West Indies gambled on the fitness of Sunil Narine for the final match. Far better to rest him for the matches that matter. Johnson Charles and Andre Fletcher are still awaiting a chance in the top order and, as well as the top five have played, there must be a temptation to rest Dwayne Smith and give one of them some match time.
West Indies (possible) 1 Chris Gayle, 2 Dwayne Smith, 3 Marlon Samuels, 4 Lendl Simmons, 5 Dwayne Bravo, 6 Denesh Ramdin (wk), 7 Darren Sammy (capt), 8 Andre Russell, 9 Krishmar Santokie, 10 Ravi Rampaul, 11 Samuel Badree
Moeen Ali did not bowl in the second match and did not cover himself in glory with the bat; he seems the obvious man to stand down if England give Ian Bell a run. That switch might also lead England to strengthen their bowling by substituting Ben Stokes for the struggling Luke Wright. It is only conjecture, but now that the series is lost, why not give Chris Jordan a first international appearance in his native island? It would seem churlish not to.
England (possible) 1 Alex Hales, 2 Michael Lumb, 3 Ian Bell, 4 Eoin Morgan (capt), 5 Jos Buttler (wk), 6 Ravi Bopara, 7 Ben Stokes, 8 Tim Bresnan, 9 James Tredwell, 10 Chris Jordan, 11 Stephen Parry
Pitch and conditions
More of the same: a decent pitch for T20, with a hint of turn and uneven bounce, and boundaries that seem to shrink when West Indies are batting.
"We'd be naive and stupid to think that probably every team we come up against
is not going to open up with spin against us.''
Ashley Giles, England's one-day coach, braces himself for the inevitable during World Twenty20 in Bangladesh.
"He has been sitting on the sidelines but everytime he gets an opportunity he takes it. He's given the selectors a headache."
Darren Sammy, West Indies' captain, on the claims of Krishmar Santokie for a regular spot in the side.
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