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The defending champions are in pretty good shape as the West Indies get ready for their first game of the 2014 Twenty20 World Cup today against an Indian side looking to build on their win over Pakistan.
One could say West Indies departed the Caribbean and arrived in Bangladesh with some of a swagger; not over-confidence, just a measured belief in what they can achieve as a T20 side.
Although they are missing one player who would walk into the starting XI – Kieron Pollard – and another who would certainly be in the squad – Kemar Roach – West Indies retain the fundamentals of a powerful Twenty20 side.
The batting is packed with boundary strikers, from Chris Gayle down to Darren Sammy, while Sunil Narine and Samuel Badree are a potent spin combination.
Pace off the ball can also be provided by the cutters of Sammy, Dwayne Bravo and Krishmar Santokie, along with the darts of Gayle and Marlon Samuels. Sammy retains the captaincy of the T20 side, having been demoted in favour of Bravo in one-day cricket, and he is probably the most emotional captain on display.
There remains a concern that too much emphasis is being placed on T20 cricket for West Indies, hampering any hopes of a meaningful revival in their Test and, to a lesser extent, one-day cricket. There certainly appears to be a correlation – the shorter the format, the more vibrant West Indies become.
The decisions of some individuals always comes under the spotlight, but before this tournament Gayle was at pains to insist that nothing comes ahead of representing the region. Their success 18 months ago brought joy on and off the field; if they become the first team to successfully defend a World T20 title you know it will be done with just as much flair.
After India;s win over Pakistan, Suresh Raina said his side needed to back themselves whatever their approach was against opposing spin attacks.
“In T20 my game is different because I know I only have 10-12 overs,” Raina said. “They [Pakistan] had in Ajmal a bowler who can take wickets. [You have to] look to attack other bowlers rather than just attack Ajmal. You have to change your gameplan very quickly in T20 [as to] who you have to attack.
“In short format you have to plan according to every two overs who and who not to attack. If you have wickets in hand you can accelerate. We have good power [in the batting line-up]. [MS] Dhoni, Yuvi, and then [Ravindra] Jadeja and Ashwin. If you get a good start it is good for the batsmen down the order.
“The ball is turning for the spinners, so to shape up for the shot you have to get underneath the ball a bit. Your thoughts have to be clear whether you have to hit the ball or not. From overs seven-eleven you also have to rotate the strike well. Even if you get one loose ball, if you can convert it into a four or a six, that is a good gameplan.”