The excitement is palpable as one of the most enthralling tournaments in world cricket is almost upon us. The ICC T20I World Cup gets underway this month, and we preview the 16 teams that will be competing to lift the famous trophy. Here we have the lowdown on West Indies.
The West Indies are ready to defend their crown and go into the 2021 T20I World Cup with a well-rounded team that easily dismantled Australia not long ago. The two-time champions not only have one of the most destructive batting line-ups in world cricket, but now they also boast a strong bowling attack that will help them make the most out of the conditions. The West Indies have been dominating the shortest format of world cricket for quite a while now, and they will be aiming to maintain their already excellent record in the T20I World Cup this month.
As stated above, the West Indies go into the World Cup with momentum and confidence on their side. They thrashed Australia 4-1 in a five-match T20I series not long ago, in conditions that were not too dissimilar to what we will see in the Middle East this month. They did lose to Pakistan not long after, but three of the four matches in that series were washed out. Among their other T20I results this year include a narrow series defeat to South Africa and a 2-1 series win against Sri Lanka.
When it comes to the West Indies’ strengths, it is difficult to look beyond their star-studded batting order that features several world class T20I specialists. Led by captain Kieron Pollard, the Windies batters are among the most feared by almost every bowler in this format. They also have a great mix of youth and experience, with the likes of Chris Gayle, Andre Russell, Evin Lewis and Roston Chase complimenting youngsters such as Nicholas Pooran and Shimron Hetmyer.
While this West Indies squad is more balanced than ever, it still has a few weaknesses. They have quite a few talented specialist pace bowlers in their ranks. But their fast bowlers aren’t the most consistent and do tend to sometimes go for big runs. The West Indies will definitely need more from their pace battery if they want to make it to the semi-finals in a very difficult group that features three teams well adept at facing pace bowling.
The West Indies are the only team to win the ICC T20 World Cup
multiple times in 2012 & 2016 respectively
What the media are saying
The West Indies are no doubt among the favourites to win the T20I World Cup so the expectations are very high. But the build up to the tournament in the media has been dominated by the selection of certain players and the non-selection of the in-form Sunil Narine. There has also been criticism from some former players, which is far from ideal for a team looking to win a global tournament.
Andre Russell has been awarded the IPL’s Most Valuable Player twice in the 2015 & 2019 seasons
There is no shortage of star players in this West Indies line-up. But their most valuable player is no doubt Andre Russell. He is not only one of the best finishers in the world with the bat in hand, but he is also a very capable bowler and a gun fielder. His exploits towards the end of the innings will be crucial to the West Indies’ hopes. And if he is on his game, even the best bowlers in the world struggle to find a way to stop him.
Evin Lewis‘ career strake-rate of 158.03 is the 5th highest in T20I history
Keep an eye on…
When people talk about the West Indies’ batting prowess, one name who doesn’t always get a mention is Evin Lewis. But despite often going under the radar, Lewis continues to one of their most important players. The opening batter is the West Indies’ leading run-scorer in T20I cricket in 2021. In fact, only five batters have scored more T20I runs than Lewis this year. He has an excellent strike-rate of 158.03 and has also hit two centuries in T20I cricket. If he keeps this form going at the World Cup, the West Indies will certainly fancy their chances.
Evin Lewis, Lendl Simmons, Chris Gayle, Shimron Hetmyer, Nicholas Pooran (wk), Kieron Pollard (c), Andre Russell, Fabian Allen, Dwayne Bravo, Hayden Walsh Jr., Obed McCoy
The West Indies are the most successful team in the history of the T20I World Cup. And they will have their sights set on winning the tournament for the third time next month. They have the players to make that happen, but they need to find a better balance between going for sixes and rotating the strike to keep the scoreboard ticking. What doesn’t help their chances is the fact that they are in a group featuring England, Australia and South Africa. So reaching the semi-finals certainly won’t be easy. But if they play like they did in the series against Australia, few would bet against them.