Photo Credit: Cricket West Indies
The most successful team in ICC Men’s T20 World Cup history are back. West Indies will be determined to regain their crown after a disappointing display in the UAE and Oman last year. After bidding farewell to the likes of Kieron Pollard, Andre Russell and Chris Gayle, a new-look Windies team has a battle on their hands to recapture past glories.
A fresh challenge awaits the two-time champions, with a tricky First Round to navigate before they can reach the Super 12s, where they exited in 2021.
They’ve been drawn in Group B along with a fast-improving Zimbabwe, last year’s Group B winners Scotland and seven-time qualifiers Ireland. If they manage to win their group, they will avoid 2021 finalists New Zealand and hosts Australia.
But even so, three of the top four teams in the world would stand between them and a fifth semi-final, including India and last year’s semi-finalists Pakistan.
West Indies have claimed series wins over England and Bangladesh since the last World Cup, but they have also suffered whitewash defeats to Pakistan and India and beaten recently by New Zealand and Australia.
T20 World Cup history
One of the greatest moments in ICC Men’s T20 World Cup history belongs to the West Indies and Carlos Brathwaite, whose name certainly won’t be forgotten. At Eden Gardens in the 2016 final, the West Indies required 19 off the final over to better England’s 156 posting.
Up stepped Brathwaite, who wrote his name into folklore by hitting Ben Stokes for four consecutive sixes to clinch their second title.
Their first title came four years previously where Sunil Narine’s 3/9 bamboozled hosts Sri Lanka as they comfortably defended a total of 137 to lift the trophy. Sri Lanka bit back in 2014, beating the reigning champions by the Duckworth-Lewis method in the semi-final.
Middle-order batter, Nicholas Pooran, is the most experienced member of the squad and has big shoes to fill after taking on the white-ball captaincy vacated by the retired Pollard. But the 27-year-old keeper is more than up to the task with a career T20 strike rate of 130.17.
Pooran and Brandon King’s 95-run partnership was key to their warm-up win over the UAE on Monday and King is the other major threat with the bat for the West Indies.
The West Indies attack is led by 29-year-old left arm slow bowler Akeal Hosein who has enjoyed a rapid rise to prominence since his T20 debut in 2021 with 44 wickets from 29 matches.
No one can top former captain and fast bowler Jason Holder’s 23 calendar year dismissals, though.
A big concern is a lack of top-class spinners in Australia, and the Men in Maroon could come unstuck in the advanced stages without potent slow bowling options.
Three first round matches at the Bellerive Oval in Hobart will hopefully be the beginning of a very fruitful tournament for the Windies.
They face Scotland on Monday 17 October before taking on Zimbabwe two days later and Ireland on Friday.