West Indies have announced a 13-member squad for the first half of the tri-nation tournament that will begin on June 28, 2013. Playing at home, West Indies are a force to reckon with as they have a number of match winners in their side who are particularly effective in home conditions. Their eviction from the Champions Trophy in the group stage was unfortunate as their critical match against South Africa was interrupted by rain and decided as a tie by the D/L method. They will be looking to bounce back from the disappointment of that result. The task will not be easy as they will have two powerhouses of the sub-continent as their opponents who are familiar with the dry, slow surfaces that West Indies offers these days.
West Indies were let down by their batting department in the Champions Trophy but that has not resulted in any major inclusion in the squad. The only change that has been made is the exclusion of Ramnaresh Sarwan who had an abysmal competition. Sarwan’s experience was called upon for the alien and hostile conditions of England but he was unable to anchor the innings as was expected of him. It will be interesting to see if West Indies can create a balanced batting lineup with a number of players being instinctive shot-makers.
Johnson Charles at the top of the order is an exciting prospect and he played a promising innings of 60 runs against India in the recently concluded Champions Trophy. He will be accompanied by the big hitting Chris Gayle. Gayle tried to control his natural instinct at the top of the order so that he could play a long innings but it did not come off. He’s often blamed for not performing upto his potential for the national side inspite of his heavy scoring in T-20 league competitions. That might be playing on his mind. Though, that is largely an unfair criticism to level against him as he has shown a lot of intent whenever appearing for the national side. The cause of such allegations might be the fact that teams have now begun to target his wicket. They usually test him with swing up-front and the occasional bouncer. It is difficult to say if he should just play his natural game as the West Indian batting line-up requires someone to play that long innings which he is capable of doing.
The West Indian middle order will be constituted by Marlon Samuels, Darren Bravo, Dwayne Bravo and Kieron Pollard. Darren Bravo is a naturally gifted shot maker who has modelled himself on Brian Lara. He should be given the nod ahead of Dwayne Bravo at one-down as he can negotiate with early swing and switch gears according to the need of the situation. He averages 32.00 in ODIs but his performance in the Test arena, where he averages 44.56 with 4 hundreds to his name, bodes well for his future. Marlon Samuels has done well for the West Indies in the recent years and he played a critical role in West Indies’ T-20 world cup triumph. He has the knack of playing overtly aggressively in situations that do not require haste but application. He needs to make that adjustment to his game. Dwayne Bravo and Kieron Pollard can enter the game for the batting-powerplay and take control in the last 15 overs of the game to propel West Indies to a massive total.
West Indies have a diverse bowling attack that can exploit the conditions at home. The exclusion of Jason Holder was perhaps not necessary. They have an impressive prospect in Kemar Roach who had a bitter-sweet Champions trophy. He has the pace and the attitude to join the ranks of James Anderson and Dale Steyn. He just needs to develop a cricketing mind which will need the support of the coaching staff and the trust of the captain. Ravi Rampaul can extract swing and has troubled the Indian batsmen in the past but he is inconsistent and often drops a lot of loose deliveries in the initial overs. Tino Best will do what he is good at, bowl it short and fast.
West Indies have a trump card in the form of ‘mystery spinner’ Sunil Narine. It is often thought that the effectivity of such bowlers reduces as their novelty recedes but that is not the case with Narine who shows impeccable control on his line and length. That consistency and control makes him a very economical bowler. Even if a batsman is able to pick up the variation that he is bowling, it is another thing to get him away for runs. The tournament will see a number of mystery spinners come together in one competition as R.Ashwin and Ajantha Mendis will also showcase their skills. West Indies will put up a challenge in this competition and given the home conditions, they will be favorites ahead of Sri Lanka to make the final.