West Indies v Ireland, World Twenty20, Providence April 29, 2010

All set for the floodlit curtain-raiser

Match Facts

Friday, April 30, Providence
Start time 1700 (2100 GMT)

The Big Picture

In the coming fortnight, West Indies have a shot at redemption - a chance to put the horrors of the 2007 World Cup firmly behind them, and demonstrate once again the joie de vivre of Caribbean cricket. But nothing can be achieved without a solid showing from the hosts, and therefore, with a tricky encounter with England to follow on Monday, nothing less than a victory will suffice in their tournament opener, against the top dogs among underdogs, Ireland.

The Irish, of course, have nothing but fond memories to fall back on from 2007. That was the tournament in which they announced themselves as the best of the rest, with a thrilling St Patrick's Day victory over Pakistan that carried them into the Super Eights stage of the contest. In the last World Twenty20 in England they repeated the feat by vaulting into the second stage at the expense of Bangladesh, but with such performances come heightened expectations. Despite their outsider status, failure to qualify would come as a genuine disappointment.

Form guide (most recent first)

West Indies LWWLL
Ireland LWLLL

Watch out for...

When it's inspiration you seek, there's no looking past West Indies' captain, Chris Gayle, whose languid demeanour masks a competitive instinct that invariably bubbles into action when the stakes are at their highest. Virtually singlehandedly, he carried his team to the semi-finals of the last World Twenty20 in England, while many of his team-mates recall with awe his cool pocketing of Stanford's millions in that infamous 20/20 for 20 fixture in Antigua. He's still the only man to make a hundred in this competition, and lest we forget, that came in the tournament opener in 2007.

The Providence wicket promises to be slow and low, and therefore it could well play into the hands of one of the rising stars of Ireland cricket. George Dockrell is only 17 years old, but his left-arm spin has already proven invaluable to his team-mates: in the crucial semi-final of the recent qualifying tournament in Dubai, he claimed 4 for 20 in 3.3 overs to deny the Netherlands their chance of a repeat appearance in this competition. Two further wickets in the defeat against Afghanistan on Wednesday confirmed his form and rhythm are in place.

Team news

West Indies have a couple of injury concerns, with Jerome Taylor struggling with shoulder and ankle trouble and Sulieman Benn battling a shoulder injury. It is unclear whether Benn will play but Kieron Pollard, who missed the warm-up match against New Zealand with flu, should be good to go.

West Indies (possible) 1 Chris Gayle (capt), 2 Shivnarine Chanderpaul, 3 Dwayne Bravo, 4 Ramnaresh Sarwan, 5 Narsingh Deonarine, 6 Kieron Pollard, 7 Darren Sammy, 8 Denesh Ramdin (wk), 9 Sulieman Benn, 10 Ravi Rampaul, 11 Nikita Miller.

Ireland (possible) 1 William Porterfield (capt), 2 Paul Stirling, 3 Niall O'Brien (wk), 4 Alex Cusack, 5 Kevin O'Brien, 6 Gary Wilson, 7 John Mooney, 8 Trent Johnston, 9 Andre Botha, 10 Peter Connell, 11 George Dockrell.

Pitch and conditions

The sluggish surface is a given, but the X factor will be provided by Providence's rarely-used floodlights. Due to the constraints of the Caribbean timezone, there are just two floodlit games on the schedule for this tournament. It remains to be seen how the teams and the conditions will respond, although the night-time spectacle will doubtless enliven the Guyana faithful - which ought to be a boost for the home team, and by extension, the whole tournament.

Stats and trivia

  • Ireland have never beaten West Indies in an official international contest, although they have only faced each other on three previous occasions, all in ODIs, with two defeats and one wash-out.

  • West Indies were, however, the victims in one of the most memorable moments for Irish cricket, at Sion Mills in 1969, when they were bowled out for 25 en route to a nine-wicket defeat.

    Quotes

    "We can't have five wickets down for 30 runs in eight or nine overs and expect to be competitive in a game. It's a case of complacency and bad batting as a whole. We've just got to make sure that we get rid of that complacency."
    Ireland's coach, Phil Simmons, reacts to his team's defeat in their warm-up against Afghanistan on Wednesday.

    Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo