England v West Indies, ICC World Twenty20, The Oval June 14, 2009

Familar foes fight for semi spot

Match facts

Monday, June 15
Start time 1730 local (1630 GMT)

Big Picture

England could still reach the semi-finals of the ICC World Twenty20. It's almost worth repeating, so implausible does it sound. After beating the defending champions, India, at a packed Lord's on Sunday, a straight play-off between England and West Indies beckons south of the Thames, the winner of which will be confirmed semi-finalists. The defeat to the Dutch suddenly seems an awfully long time ago.

At the halfway point, few who witnessed England's staccato innings of 153 for 7 would have believed it could be defended against a side containing Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh and MS Dhoni. But, like West Indies did in their seven-wicket win, England bowled aggressive lengths and exposed an alarming technical weakness in India's top-order, namely their fear of anything short. England's overall superior fielding - bar a horrible fumble by Stuart Broad in the penultimate over, not for the first time - also made a difference, as it could against West Indies too.

Tomorrow's match, as crucial as it is, pits arguably two of cricket's most deceptively inconsistent teams against one another. Who honestly knows which West Indies side will wake up tomorrow? Outstanding with the bat to beat India two days ago, they were shocked into submission against South Africa 24 hours later, aggrieved and petulant, perhaps understandably, at playing a crucial match just 15 hours after their last.

England, beware. Chris Gayle is, predictably, in terrifying form in a format he actually enjoys, but it's one of their youngsters, Lendl Simmons, who is offering exuberance and raw talent with the bat, as well as improving their fielding. He top-scored with 77 in their defeat to South Africa; the next highest score came from Sulieman Benn with 13 hacked runs at No.10. For all West Indies' undoubted ability at one-day level, they remain a side as brittle as glass but who, on their day, play like champions.

On an Oval pitch that has offered scores of 183, 185 and 211, runs ought to flow, but whether England can maintain the intensity they showed with the ball could decide who prospers tomorrow. With Ryan Sidebottom suddenly rediscovering the venom which made him so dangerous, England's attack looks the tastier on paper. It is a scenario as mouth-watering as it is unlikely.

Form guide

(last five matches, most recent first)
England WLWLL
England keep winning when they have to, following the insipid performance against South Africa with their impressive show against India. Now they need to string two performances together.

West Indies LWLWW
West Indies' form has almost been as up-and-down as England and they came unstuck against the red-hot South Africa. The last time the two met in a Twenty20 international in Trinidad, West Indies won easily.

Watch out for...

West Indies' batting line-up is about more than just Chris Gayle but he is the focus of most of the attention. Since his 88 off 50 balls against Australia he hasn't fired, having sat out the game against Sri Lanka and struggled against India and South Africa. On Saturday he revealed he needs ankle surgery, but is battling through the pain for his team. He isn't a fan of running at the best of times, so it could just motivate him to hit more boundaries. England beware.

Ryan Sidebottom wasn't going to play against India before a late change of plan had him replacing Adil Rashid, yet he walked away with the Man-of-the-Match award. It has been a long battle for Sidebottom to get his place back after an injury-hit year, but his pace is up at decent levels again and England's attack certainly looks stronger with him as one of the fast-bowling trio.

Team news

There doesn't seem much need for England to change a winning team, although the batting order will be interesting after Dimitri Mascarenhas was promoted with limited effect. Picking four specialist, experienced bowlers is the way to go with a semi-final place up for grabs.

England (probable) 1 Ravi Bopara, 2 Luke Wright, 3 Kevin Pietersen, 4 Owais Shah, Paul Collingwood (capt), 6 Dimitri Mascarenhas, 7 James Foster (wk), 8 Graeme Swann, 9 Stuart Broad, 10 Ryan Sidebottom, 11 James Anderson.

West Indies have a settled line-up after the successful return of Lendl Simmons at the expense of Xavier Marshall in recent games. Making up the overs for the fourth and fifth bowlers can prove an issue, but Kieron Pollard's all-round skills should keep him in the side.

West Indies (probable) 1 Chris Gayle (capt), 2 Andre Fletcher, 3 Lendl Simmons, 4 Dwayne Bravo, 5 Shivnarine Chanderpaul, 6 Ramnaresh Sarwan, 7 Kieron Pollard, 8 Denesh Ramdin (wk), 9 Jerome Taylor, 10 Sulieman Benn, 11 Fidel Edwards.

Stats and Trivia

  • Familiarity could breed contempt for the two sides as this will be their 18th meeting (including the T20 warm-up) since February.

  • England and West Indies have played two previous Twenty20s in this country, both at The Oval, and it finished 1-1 in 2007.


    "When we were practising at the nursery ground today, we were booed by the Indian fans. It was hard to believe we were playing at home. So we used those boos as motivation to put on a party piece."
    England captain Paul Collingwood on what got his team going

    Will Luke and Andrew McGlashan are assistant editors of Cricinfo