Windies tour of England began slowly but has gathered momentum gradually. Hosts pummeled the visitors in the first two tests, there was some controversy when both attacking bowlers from home team were rested in for the 3rd test, the rejuvenation of the West Indies to fight for pride, an unlikely/brilliant partnership, Chanderpaul’s suspected injury and Narine not meeting the huge expectations that forced the West Indies selectors to hurry him for the third test, and at the end of it all, were the rains. But all that is over. It’s time now for an ODI series showdown, which is sure to bring in a lot of fans and viewers from either side.
To start off, next two weeks will be will be about two returning batsmen = Chris Gayle for the West Indies who recently rectified his disputes with WICB and Ian Bell for England. These two are like opposites. Bell, England’s hopeful replacement for Kevin Pietersen, is a test match specialist. He will no doubt look to stand and bat while keeping his run rate up, providing his team with ample support. He is also their captain in the one day format.
Chris Gayle on the other hand… well, you have seen him play and if you have that gut feeling that he’s going to click in this match, you better carry an iron umbrella to the ground.
Gayle was banned from playing for his country last year, but after performances in domestic leagues around the world, he was “formally” welcomed back to the team. Not many bowlers can stand up to this man when he’s in his zone. There’s also all-rounder Dwayne Bravo, who will tighten up the middle order.
Now, England have lost 21 of the 48 ODIs they have played in the last 2 years and their home record stands at 14 wins in 23 games, which is not too shabby. Form-wise, there have definitely been better days for the English and the Windies will look to take advantage of this early on.
The West Indies plays their cricket with a lot of flair and their batting line-up can intimidate any bowling side. There’s just one tiny little flaw though. there aren't many batsmen who know how to control the ball and anchor their side down, bat out the overs. There are a lot of big hitters though, and they’ll face the biggest problem when the new ball comes into play, where they’ll have to somehow play a patient game until the ball is ready to be whacked. If they can negotiate their way out of initial problems, they should be able to make it home. England are no doubt much more stronger in tests than they are in ODIs. They have a gameplan that epitomizes solidity – a trait that makes their one day game a tad weaker.
Bowling-wise, England’s attacking duo James Anderson and Stuart Broad, along with Steve Finn, will prove to be a handful. England will look to play one spinner here, but will it be Graeme Swann or Samit Patel? That of course, would depend on their coach Andy Flower. Swann didn’t have a great test series. Samit Patel, though of English nationality, is of Indian origin and bowlers from the subcontinent are regarded as naturally being better spinners than the rest of the world (case in point: Monty Panesar.)
If you look at the West Indies bowling side, you’ll find lead attacking pacers Ravi Rampaul and Fidel Edwards. Dwayne Bravo and Kieron Pollard can limit the run rate easily and mystery bowler Sunil Narine, who had a not-so-great debut in test cricket, could be the x-factor once again, if he clicks. He was amazing in the IPL and the 50-over match would suit him more than the test.
There are quite a few interesting occurrences around both teams and everything will be decided on Saturday.
England and the West Indies have clashed 77 times in one days. England has won 34 while the islanders have won 39 and there have been no results in 4 games. It’s almost neck and neck.
England will still remain favorites, playing at home and coming off a 2-0 test series victory over the Windies. Can the Caribbean boys throw an upset? We’ll soon find out.