The West Indies and Ireland meet in the second of their two Twenty20 Internationals on Friday after the visitors claimed a shock six-wicket victory in the first match on Wednesday.
Venue: Sabina Park, Kingston, Jamaica
Commences: Friday, Feb. 21, 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 to 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.
A brief limited-overs campaign against Ireland was supposed to provide the West Indies with a gentle warm-up heading into a six-match encounter with England beginning next week. Yet in the first T20 on Wednesday, what was expected to be routine became rather embarrassing; a relatively strong home outfit comfortably brushed aside by a non-Test-playing nation.
It must be conceded that the West Indies arrived at Wednesday's match-up amid a sense that the team was underdone, with Chris Gayle, Marlon Samuels and Darren Sammy all returning after injury lay-offs.
But the manner in which the hosts' explosive batting line-up was tamed by a disciplined Ireland attack will be a cause for concern ahead of the ICC World Twenty20.
Conversely, the result will have done wonders for the confidence of the Irish players, who are beginning to form a reputation as giant-killers in the T20 arena. In fact, Sabina Park in Jamaica was the site of the nation's first significant victory back in 2007 against the very same opponents.
Desperate to prove they'll be doing more than making up the numbers at the World Twenty20 in Bangladesh next month, Ireland will be keen to inflict another damaging result on the home side when the teams meet again on Friday.
If Ireland's ever-improving form is anything to go by, the West Indies will have their hands full again.
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
Chris Gayle will again be the star attraction in the home side's line-up, with the bruising left-hander likely to make up for his subdued 18-run performance in the first match with something more typical when the teams meet again.
Of course, returning from a severe hamstring injury does pose its problems, particularly with regard to power-hitting, but it's difficult to think that team management would rush back their superstar for rather inconsequential matches against Ireland if he wasn't at full fitness.
Thus, we can expect a far stronger showing from Gayle in the second match of this encounter; a fact Ireland will be well aware of, too.
Ed Joyce played the vital hand in Ireland's successful chase on Wednesday, compiling a measured 40 not out from 49 balls to guide his side to safety after early trouble.
Far from the typical T20 batsman, Joyce is the sort of accumulator that Ireland may again look to build around in the second match on Friday.
Yet, in occupying the critical No. 3 position, it will be imperative for Joyce to operate with distinctly more urgency than he did on Wednesday, given it's unlikely that the home team will put together another vastly disappointing batting display.
If the left-hander is tied down, the West Indies could severely restrict the visitors.
The West Indies certainly have concerns after their loss in the first match of this short series, most notably with regard to the team's enigmatic batting unit.
Meanwhile, Ireland will be confident that they have the capacity to repeat their performance from Wednesday's encounter, particularly when one considers the team's improving Twenty20 ranking.
Yet, with complacency now likely to be replaced by intensity for the hosts, expect to see Gayle and Co. put forward a far more impressive showing, which should be enough to earn them a victory and level the series on Friday.
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