Although West Indies are the defending champions, the current squad looks like a shadow of the one that lifted the trophy in India five years ago. If signs from the warm-ups are anything to go by, things are not looking too encouraging. Their ageing warriors are literally facing a battle against time to stay relevant and need to pull off a Caribbean special to retain the crown.
The Windies were lethargic against Pakistan in their first warm-up game, going down by seven wickets. 130 for 7 was all they managed, which was chased down by the Asian side without any fuss. Then West Indies’ bowling was taken to task by Afghanistan, who posted 189 for 5. West Indies managed only 133 in response. Kieron Pollard’s men have not looked like a threatening unit so far and that will need to change
England are a completely different unit from the side that crumbled under pressure in the 2016 final. The England of 2021 plays fearless and attractive cricket. Following the disaster of the 2015 World Cup and the disappointed of the 2016 T20 final loss, the Englishmen lifted themselves incredibly well, a turnaround which saw them clinch the 2019 World Cup.
Two of their stars from that memorable triumph - Ben Stokes and Jofra Archer - won’t be in action for England at the ongoing T20 World Cup due to varied reasons. However, they still have a number of players who can make a difference. They had a mixed run in the warm-ups, going down to India by seven wickets before defeating New Zealand by 13 runs.
Jos Buttler, Jonny Bairstow and Moeen Ali got some runs in the practice games but concerns over captain Eoin Morgan’s form remain. Among bowlers, Mark Wood and Adil Rashid were impressive against the Kiwis.
England’s predicted XI: Jos Buttler (wk), Jason Roy, Dawid Malan, Jonny Bairstow, Eoin Morgan (C), Liam Livingstone, Moeen Ali, David Willey, Adil Rashid, Mark Wood, Chris Woakes
Windies top three, assuming they are Lendl Simmons, Evin Lewis, Chris Gayle, will need to deliver the goods at the start. Nicholas Pooran got some runs against Afghanistan, which is a positive.
West Indies’ predicted XI: Lendl Simmons, Evin Lewis, Chris Gayle, Shimron Hetmyer, Nicholas Pooran (wk), Kieron Pollard, Andre Russell, Roston Chase, Dwayne Bravo, Obed McCoy, Hayden Walsh Jr.
Top fantasy picks for England vs West Indies clash: Jos Buttler, Jonny Bairstow, Mark Wood, Shimron Hetmyer, Andre Russell, Dwayne Bravo
--Renin Wilben Albert