Though West Indies have been declining rapidly in Tests and ODIs, their T20 fortunes haven't suffered as much. Till not too long ago, they were No. 1 in the T20 rankings, so, logically, they should start as one of the favourites at the World T20, but in reality, they might turn out to be pretenders, not real contenders. The only factor likely to keep their hopes alive is that they are placed in a relatively easy group, presenting them with an outside chance to reach the final four.

Strength
West Indies have more multi-utility cricketers than any other team in the competition. The likes of Darren Sammy, Dwayne Bravo and Andre Russell lend great balance to the team, because with them you get ten to 12 overs of bowling and middle- to lower-order batting, since each of these players is a useful finisher. Chris Gayle plays the role of the explosive opener, but he too can chip in with a couple of overs.

Since the World T20 is in India, spin is likely to play an important role, and West Indies' spin department looks reasonably well stocked with Samuel Badree and Sulieman Benn.

Weakness
West Indies will dearly miss the services of Sunil Narine, Kieron Pollard and Darren Bravo, and it would be foolish to assume that their absence won't have a bearing on the side's fortunes in the tournament. If West Indies could have fielded their best XI, they would have been the side to beat in all conditions, but since that's not the case this time, they are likely to struggle. In Narine, they not only miss a wicket-taker but also a bowler useful in the death overs. They have enough bowlers to bowl in the middle overs but are likely to leak runs in the first six and the last four overs, which is where T20 matches are won or lost.

Gayle can have a positive or a negative impact on the scoring. While he's a definite match-winner on his day, when he starts too slowly and doesn't convert his starts, he hurts his team's chances.

X-factor
Russell is my man to look out for in the West Indies team. While his form with the bat hasn't been great coming into the World T20, most teams will be wary of him because of the way he bats and the number at which he bats. He doesn't get enough balls to score a 30-ball 55, but a 25 off 12 balls might be enough to tilt the balance in his team's favour. He's one of the hardest hitters of the ball out there and his experience in the IPL will keep him in good stead in the World T20. In addition to his batting, Russell is also a proper four-over bowler. It won't be incorrect to say that Russell and Ben Stokes are the only two allrounders in the world who bowl at 140kph and bat the way they do. If Russell can learn to control his obsession with bouncers, he'll be more effective with the ball than he already is.

Aakash Chopra is the author of three books, the latest of which is The Insider: Decoding the craft of cricket. @cricketaakash