The West Indies and Ireland meet in the first of two Twenty20 Internationals on Wednesday, with both teams using the series as preparation for the upcoming ICC World Twenty20 in March.
Venue: Sabina Park, Kingston, Jamaica
Commences: Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014
Start time: 7 p.m. GMT (2 p.m. local)
Weather: The Weather Channel is forecasting a hot and partly cloudy day, with the temperature expected the reach 31 degrees Celsius in the middle of the afternoon. High winds could see the development of a short shower in the evening, but play looks unlikely to be interrupted.
Before the West Indies host a revamped England for three ODIs and three T20Is beginning on February 28, the Caribbean side entertains England's neighbours, Ireland, for a short limited-overs encounter.
While meeting one of international cricket's minnows would normally represent an unwelcome distraction, the home side will welcome the opportunity to ease Chris Gayle, Darren Sammy and Marlon Samuels back into form, as all three missed the limited-overs leg of the West Indies' tour of New Zealand.
For Ireland, the chance to play the West Indies is much needed given that they haven't competed against a Test-playing nation in any format since September of last year.
West Indies: Darren Sammy (c), Samuel Badree, Dwayne Bravo, Andre Fletcher, Chris Gayle, Sunil Narine, Denesh Ramdin, Ravi Rampaul, Andre Russell, Marlon Samuels, Krishmar Santokie, Lendl Simmons, Dwayne Smith
Ireland: William Porterfield (c), Alex Cusack, George Dockrell, Ed Joyce, Andrew McBrine, Tim Murtagh, Kevin O'Brien, Niall O'Brien, Andrew Poynter, Max Sorensen, James Shannon, Paul Stirling, Stuart Thompson, Gary Wilson, Craig Young
Players to Watch
The star attraction for the home side is, of course, Chris Gayle. The undisputed king of T20 batting, the brutal left-hander will look to annihilate the lowly Irish side and kick-start his return to the international arena in spectacular fashion.
However, with such a short turnaround until the ICC World Twenty20 begins, Gayle's ability to discover his emphatic best will be extremely important for this West Indies side.
His return from a severe hamstring injury poses problems, with the explosive nature of the T20 game adding to the threat of a re-occurrence.
Paul Stirling is Ireland's leading run-scorer in this format, with four fifties and 507 runs from 21 innings.
The 23-year-old right-hander is also among his team's most explosive, with a career strike rate of 126.75.
Stirling's last T20I innings also featured eight fours and four sixes; he hammered 76 from just 43 deliveries against Afghanistan.
This series arrives at a perfect time for the West Indians, who will look to use it as a warm-up for England's visit and the forthcoming ICC World Twenty20.
Although they have a collection of players who could be considered underdone, the home side's explosive batting strength should be enough to claim a comprehensive victory in the opening match of this encounter.
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