The West Indies were very popular winners of the ICC World T20 in Sri Lanka and the fact that they did it on the relatively slower pitches there tells a story. A few years earlier they wouldn’t have been in contention but T20 has revived West Indies cricket like nothing else could have. Now, can they do it in Bangladesh?
No one knows but they will be respected, even feared because they have players who can turn matches around very quickly. As an Indian, it might be a bit rich to ascribe a lot of their expertise to the IPL but I am fairly certain that is true. They have given a lot to the IPL, their players frequently light it up, but they have, along with Australia, gained the most from it too.
A fit Chris Gayle changes the way you look at the West Indies and at last they have given the explosive Dwayne Smith a decent run. I couldn’t believe they could field a side without him. He is a match winner at the top of the order, a very quick mover in the field, possesses a stunning throwing arm and can slip in an over or two if needed. Gayle and Smith is a scary combination.
Then the all-rounders. Dwayne Bravo, Andre Russell, Denesh Ramdin (a keeper is an all-rounder too if he can bat!!) and the under-rated but scarily effective Darren Sammy. No Kevon Cooper? He would have been very handy in those conditions as would Jason Holder. Then the spinners in Sunil Narine and Samuel Badree, one who can bowl anywhere one who is almost a new ball specialist. And Ravi Rampaul who is a better cricketer than he is given credit for.
But to me their key player is Marlon Samuels. His innings to win them the last ICC World T20 was dramatic and he is a batting match winner. But if he can give four overs, or even three, the balance of the team changes because the West Indies can then provide upto twelve overs of spin. There has been, not surprisingly, much talk about his action, but if it can escape scrutiny, he completes the side.
But the West Indies are with India, Pakistan and Australia and in these conditions, it seems the tougher group. Any two of those four can qualify but this West Indies side will have the confidence to believe they will be among the two!