Almighty clash: Windies target England scalp in Super 8s with unbeaten run on the line

By June 19, 2024
POWELL...They are the defending champions and they are a very good team. POWELL...They are the defending champions and they are a very good team.

Having downed England 3-2 in their T20I series last year, West Indies are hoping to replicate those winning performances on an even bigger stage, as the two familiar foes square off in Super Eight of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup at the Daren Sammy Cricket Ground, in St Lucia, on Wednesday night.

First ball is 7:30pm Jamaica time.

With both West Indies and England being two-time champions, the anticipation is high ahead of what should be another intriguing clash in which familiarity will bring success for one or the other.

However, West Indies captain Rovman Powell is optimistic that his team will come out tops and set the tone for the remainder of their Super Eight fixtures, while pushing England, the reigning champions, on the back foot.

Both teams have met 29 times in the game’s shortest format, with West Indies holding a 17-12 advantage, one which they are intent on extending, especially on the back of their rich vein of form. Still, while the Caribbean side enters the business end of the tournament unbeaten and England just squeezed through by virtue of a better net run rate than Scotland, Powell knows better that to take the opposition lightly.

“They are the defending champions and they are a very good team. So, it’s for us now to just sit and find some plans and see how those plans can work against them,” Powell said in a pre-match press conference.

West Indies celebrate after topping England in their five-match T20I series last year.

“We play them [England] actually every year, so they know a lot about us, we know a lot about them. It’s just that when you’re playing the game on the day, whoever gets on top has to stay on top for as long as possible,” he added.

With the venue –named in honour of their current coach Darren Sammy, who captained West Indies to World Cup triumph in 2012 and 2016 –being to their liking, Powell pointed out that they will once again be aiming to capitalise on the conditions in Saint Lucia. West Indies rewrote the record books a few times in their first game of the tournament at the venue on Monday, as they hammered Afghanistan by 104 runs.

West Indies have won six of 10 T20Is played at the Daren Sammy Cricket Ground, including five of the last six. But, Powell is well aware that England also have a liking to the venue, as they have never lost any of their previous three T20Is at the ground, including five years ago when they beat West Indies by four wickets.

“We always knew that St Lucia was going to be one of the better pitches to play matches on in the Caribbean because of our experience during CPL (Caribbean Premier League) and all the years of playing here,” Powell noted.

Obed McCoy (left) and Nicholas Pooran (back turned) starred for West Indies against Afghanistan.

“So, it’s good that we’re starting here, and we played one game on it (against Afghanistan) before the start of the Super Eights. We’re kind of a little bit accustomed to the boundaries and accustomed to the wicket. Hopefully, it would suit us a little bit more than the Englishmen,” he said.

On that note, Powell welcomed the headache that comes with selecting the most formidable 11, as pacer Obed McCoy replaced Romario Shepherd and did well, bagging 3-14 against Afghanistan, while Shai Hope, wo replaced Roston Chase in the middle order, also contributed handily to the victory.

Shepherd, who returned home for personal reasons ahead of the Afghanistan contest, is expected to rejoin the team for this Super Eight opener.

“It’s always good and encouraging when you give guys an opportunity and they take the opportunity because it makes for good competition within the squad. It’s for us as a selection panel – myself, the coach and the chairman – to actually sit down and try to find the best combination. It’s good that guys are putting themselves up and making it a little bit difficult to pick the team,” the Jamaican reasoned.

“I think a big part of my captaincy is giving guys opportunities and supporting them. Johnson Charles didn’t have particularly a good start to the World Cup but we always knew when he comes home, he’s going to feel at home, he’s going to feel his St Lucians behind him,” Powell shared.

Sherdon Cowan

Sherdon Cowan is a five-time award-winning journalist with 10 years' experience covering sports.

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