Windies ready to rumble against England, Powell says

(CMC) – Rovman Powell said the West Indies hope that familiarity breeds success in their 200th Twenty20 International when they face defending champions England in their opening match of the Super Eight stage of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup today in St Lucia.

The West Indies captain said neither side will be a mystery to the other when they collide under the lights at the Daren Sammy Cricket Ground (DSCG), having played each other no less than 10 times over the past two years on Caribbean soil.

“We’ve played the English guys so often, it feels like we have played them every year, so they know a lot about us, and we know a lot about them,” Powell told reporters ahead of the contest. “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.”

Gudakesh Motie and Akeal Hosein have been brilliant for the West Indies and will be critical to their success against England

Powell said his side was confident, but they were not giddy after winning all four of their Group “C” matches, signing off that stage of the tournament on Monday at the same venue with a commanding 104-run win against an Afghanistan side that looked sharp earlier in the tournament and advanced to the Super Eight.

“It’s not necessarily that we sent them (England) a message,” he said in relation to the result against the Afghans. “It’s just to show them and others that as much as they are playing good cricket, we’re playing good cricket too, so come Wednesday night, it should be a very good game.”

Powell acknowledged his side had endured a few jitters in the group stage – they laboured to beat Papua New Guinea with five balls remaining and required a heroic knock from Sherfane Rutherford to set them up against New Zealand – but he felt conditions played a significant role, and it will not be the same in this match.

“I think the conditions are pretty good,” he said about the DSCG. “It’s good for batting, it’s good for bowling, and it makes for very good cricket.

“When you look on the English team, they are 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.”

Nicholas Pooran smashed 98 runs from 53 deliveries in his previous outing against Afghanistan and is a vital cog in a powerful West Indies batting lineup

He added, “I think it’s (DSCG) has always been batting-friendly conditions. Fast bowlers actually like bowling here, but I still believe it’s 60-40 in favour of batters.

“If batters get going, it’s kind of difficult to stop them. You can see from the innings that Nicholas Pooran played [against Afghanistan], when good batters get set on a good pitch like this, sometimes it becomes difficult to come up with plans to stop them.”

West Indies have played in 10 of the 21 T20Is at the DSCG, winning six of them, including five of the last six; and though England have never lost any of their previous three T20Is at the ground, including five years ago when they beat the tournament co-hosts by four wickets, Powell said his side was relishing the opportunity to start this stage of the tournament in St Lucia.

“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 the CPL (Caribbean Premier League T20 tournament) and all the years of playing here,” he said.

“So, it’s good that we’re starting here, and we played one game on it before the start of the Super Eight (vs. the Afghans). 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.”

West Indies has only one major selection choice to make going into the match, and it’s whether the uniqueness of lanky left-arm pacer Obed McCoy is worth the risk in place of the ineffective bowling, if not powerful, late-order hitting of Romario Shepherd, with Roston Chase expected to return to the 11 in place of compatriot Shai Hope.

Powell said McCoy made a strong argument for his inclusion with three wickets against the Afghans, and he, head coach Daren Sammy, and lead selector Desmond Haynes will have to scratch their heads to find the right combination.

“It’s always good, and it’s always encouraging when you give guys an opportunity and they take the opportunity because it makes for good competition within the squad,” he said.

“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 make it a little bit difficult to pick the team.”

After a slow start to the tournament, England rallied to beat both Oman and Namibia by comfortable margins, and when Australia beat Scotland this past Sunday, Jos Buttler and company were able to sneak into the Super Eight.

But the English have the experience and T20 specialists in the squad who can turn around their fortunes in the second stage of the tournament, and they will try to begin their revival against a West Indies side firing on all cylinders.

West Indies: Rovman Powell (captain), Alzarri Joseph, Johnson Charles, Roston Chase, Shimron Hetmyer, Shai Hope, Akeal Hosein, Shamar Joseph, Brandon King, Obed McCoy, Gudakesh Motie, Nicholas Pooran, Andre Russell, Sherfane Rutherford, and Romario Shepherd.

England: Jos Buttler (captain), Moeen Ali, Jofra Archer, Jonny Bairstow, Harry Brook, Sam Curran, Ben Duckett, Tom Hartley, Will Jacks, Chris Jordan, Liam Livingstone, Adil Rashid, Phil Salt, Reece Topley, and Mark Wood.

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