World Twenty20 2014 March 22, 2014

Defending champions possess measured belief

Overview


The defending champions are in pretty good shape. One could say they departed the Caribbean and arrived in Bangladesh with some of a swagger; not over-confidence, just a measured belief in what they can achieve as a T20 side.

Although they are missing one player who would walk into the starting XI - Kieron Pollard - and another who would certainly be in the squad - Kemar Roach - West Indies retain the fundamentals of a powerful Twenty20 side.

The batting is packed with boundary strikers, from Chris Gayle down to Darren Sammy, while Sunil Narine and Samuel Badree are a potent spin combination. Pace off the ball can also be provided by the cutters of Sammy, Dwayne Bravo and Krishmar Santokie, along with the darts of Gayle and Marlon Samuels. Sammy retains the captaincy of the T20 side, having been demoted in favour of Bravo in one-day cricket, and he is probably the most emotional captain on display.

There remains a concern that too much emphasis is being placed on T20 cricket for West Indies, hampering any hopes of a meaningful revival in their Test and, to a lesser extent, one-day cricket. There certainly appears to be a correlation - the shorter the format, the more vibrant West Indies become.

The decisions of some individuals always comes under the spotlight, but before this tournament Gayle was at pains to insist that nothing comes ahead of representing the region. Their success 18 months ago brought joy on and off the field; if they become the first team to successfully defend a World T20 title you know it will be done with just as much flair.

Key players


It is hard to look past the skills of Sunil Narine particularly given the role spinners are likely to play through the tournament. His economy rate continues to hover at below a run-a-ball. Away from the power of their top order, Darren Sammy has developed into one of finest finishers in this format of the game. No mathematically achievable total is safe if he's there at the end.

Surprise package


It has been quite a few weeks for left-arm swing bowler Krishmar Santokie: signed up for the IPL, recalled to West Indies colours and a Man-of-the-Match award against England. At times England played him as though they were not sure what they were facing and that could well be his secret weapon at the World T20.

Weakness


Although West Indies' fielding can be as good as anyone, it also retains a fallibility which can show itself in both the groundwork and the catching. Such moments can prove costly in tournament cricket. Also, there will be crossed fingers over the fitness of Gayle given his recent problems. West Indies have power hitters beside him, but his presence at the top gives an aura to the side that is not easily reproduced.

World T20 history


The Gangnam Style were a unique way to celebrate the title last time out. It was by far their best World T20 outing although the prize was secured by winning just three matches outright but there was also a Super Over success.

Recent form


They played some impressive T20 cricket to secure the series against England 2-1 and it marked a timely lift in confidence after sharing a series 1-1 with Ireland and suffering defeats in New Zealand.

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments