England take on the West Indies in the World Twenty20 final in Kolkata on Sunday. Below we take a look both sides’ key batsman, all-rounder and spinner.
Chris Gayle and Joe Root
Sunday’s final is likely to be Chris Gayle’s last at the World T20 as he’ll be 40 when the next edition comes around. The explosive batsman is the Windies’ biggest and most recognisable star. His lightning century against England earlier in the tournament, which included 11 sixes, left Eoin Morgan’s side shell-shocked. But the left-hander has played a bit part since then, picking up only nine runs, on the Windies’ run to the final and he may feel he has a point to prove — making him even more dangerous.
England possess their own match-winner in classy batsman Joe Root. The 25-year-old is proving himself to be one of the most accomplished stroke players in the game, showing poise and composure in pressure moments. His 83 against South Africa in the group stages was one of the most impressive knocks of the tournament and fired England to their highest-ever run chase in T20 cricket as they stunned the Proteas with just two balls to spare. The calming influence of the right-hander, who bats at number three, will be key to England’s chances of a second World T20 title.
Andre Russell and Ben Stokes
The West Indies and England boast the two most dangerous all-rounders in Twenty20 cricket in Andre Russell and Ben Stokes. Russell, who came into the tournament on the back of reports that he three missed drug tests, proved his hitting prowess with a 43-run blitz against India, including a big six on the third-last ball of the semi-final that sent his team into the final. The right-arm fast-medium bowler, who sports an orange mohawk haircut, has bagged eight wickets so far and is one of the most dangerous in Darren Sammy’s arsenal.
Stokes has been equally crucial to England’s advance to the final. The left-handed batsman, who bowls right-handed, has been compared to Ian Botham and has helped his team get over the line in a couple of crunch games with near-perfect death bowling. Stokes, who has an array of tattoos and who broke his wrist once punching a locker, also has the ability to chip in with big hits in the middle-order, supplementing England’s new and aggressive brand of cricket.
Samuel Badree and Moeen Ali
Both West Indies and England have also got spin aces up their sleeve in Samuel Badree and Moeen Ali. Leg-spinner Badree was the only bowler to hold his own with figures of 1-26 when the rest of the West Indian attack got a pasting by Indian batsmen in the semi-final. Having bagged seven wickets in five outings, Badree can certainly make a difference on an Eden Gardens track that is known to turn.
Off-spinner Ali is also not far behind with five wickets and his knack of providing breakthroughs makes him a great attack force for England. Ali’s flexibility in taking up any batting position also provides skipper Eoin Morgan with options to experiment in the shorter format. Ali’s calmness to hit the winning run from the third-last ball in England’s sensational victory emphasised his importance to the side.
Feature image source: AFP