Windies look to flex T20 muscles against Aussies

Windies look to flex T20 muscles against Aussies

Windies look to flex T20 muscles against Aussies

It wasn’t long ago when West Indies were considered the favourite whipping boys along with a few other minnows, a far cry from the all-conquering Caribbean sides under Garfield Sobers, Clive Lloyd and Viv Richards.

Cut to the present, the Darren Sammy-led squad is one of the prime contenders to win the World T20 title, their campaign for which begins with a Group ‘B’ tie against Australia. The clash between the two former ‘invincibles’ is first high-profile clash of the competition and as such promises a high-voltage action here at the R Premadasa stadium on Saturday evening.

Not since the 1983 World Cup, which India won upsetting the mighty Lloyd and his company, the West Indies have been tipped to win an ICC tournament. While they aren’t exactly the overwhelming favourites to win the biennial event, it would come as little surprise if Sammy’s men are the ones standing last. “The good thing is that the fans are rallying behind us,” said Sammy when asked about the favourites’ tag.

“When we left home, we felt the love of the Caribbean people and the belief that we can do well. Our strongest asset is the belief that we have in our dressing room. All 15 guys and the management and the support staff believe we can do well. That’s a plus for us. I always said that being favourites doesn’t always guarantee you a place in the final. You got go out and play every match and play well in order to win.”

Boasting arguably the most explosive batting line-up in the competition, West Indies derive most of their strength from their batsmen. In Chris Gayle, Dwayne Smith, Kieron Pollard, Dwayne Bravo, Andre Russell they have players who are capable of setting up insurmountable totals or scale down any target. There is a veritable mix in their attack too, and a Fidel Edwards or a Sunil Narine can be difficult to get away on their day. In comparison to batting, the bowling department appears a weaker link though. Fielding is another of their bigger assets, making them a dangerous proportion in the shortest format.

“I think we got to be spot on because the West Indies at their best are very, very dangerous,” said Australian skipper George Bailey, not oblivious to the threats his rivals pose. “They are one of the best teams in the world. They are so destructive with the bat and they have good balance, good depth with the ball. They are one of the best fielding sides and that counts for a lot in Twenty20 and they will be on the money and it will be a good test for where they are in this early stage of the tournament,” he reasoned.

While Australia will be wary of the West Indies, their commanding win over Ireland the other day, should hold them in good stead. All-rounder Shane Watson’s form obviously is a source of major comfort for them but Australia are anything but a one-man army.