World T20: Could the West Indies Be Dark Horses for the Title?

Chris TealeFeatured ColumnistMarch 18, 2014

West Indies' Darren Sammy, left,  Krishmar Santokie, center, and Andre Russell, pose with the trophy after beating England 2-1, in the series of three T20 International cricket matches at the Kensington Oval in Bridgetown, Barbados, Thursday, March 13, 2014. (AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan)
Ricardo Mazalan/Associated Press

After their win by seven wickets over England in a World T20 warm-up game on Tuesday, the West Indies have now lost just one of their last four games and seem to have a number of key players finding form at the right time.

Champions of the last World T20 in 2012, the West Indians had been on a poor run ahead of their home series against England but now seem to be gaining some momentum.

They may not be favourites for the title, especially given their recent inconsistency across all forms of the game, but a look through their squad shows it could be an exciting time for them.

A the top of their batting order, Chris Gayle looks like he is coming into form at the right time with an unbeaten 58 from 38 balls.

He remains one of the most destructive T20 batsmen in the world, with the ability to turn a match almost single-handedly and destroy any bowling attack on any kind of wicket.

Alongside him, Dwayne Smith gave another promising performance with 36 from 30 balls, with the pair putting on 78 for the first wicket in just 8.3 overs.

Below them, Marlon Samuels remains a very effective operator in the middle order, while Lendl Simmons, Andre Russell and Denesh Ramdin have all had their moments in recent times.

If one or two of those individuals can hit form and showcase their superb batting skills, the West Indians will be confident they can build a heavy total against any opposition.

Greg Bowker/Associated Press

Below them, Darren Sammy and Dwayne Bravo are a pair of all-rounders who can provide acceleration at the end of an innings, especially against a tiring bowling attack.

Their batting, therefore, looks pretty formidable in the shortest form of the game, and their bowling could well be very effective indeed on the slow wickets of Bangladesh.

Krishmar Santokie has come out of the international wilderness and looks like he could be a very good new ball operator with his left-arm medium pace.

Furthermore, Bravo, Sammy, Russell and Simmons have all shown the ability to restrict the opposition’s batsmen with their canny use of cutters and slower balls, showing how useful their participation in domestic T20 leagues around the world has been for their development.

Finally, the West Indians are blessed with a number of high-quality spinners who will play a critical role on spin-friendly wickets.

Sunil Narine has shown that he is a very effective bowler in limited-overs cricket with his variations of pace and turn.

He is the top-ranked T20 bowler in the world, and with 30 wickets in 24 games he definitely will play a dominant role for the West Indians.

Alongside him, Samuel Badree showed the ability to bowl spin with the new ball, something that can be hard to master.

Combined with the testing off-spinners of Samuels, the West Indies have a variety of slower bowlers that they will be able to call upon during 20 overs in the field.

Their Super 10 group looks incredibly tough, with the Caribbean side joined by India, Pakistan, Australia and the winners of Group A in the first round—likely Bangladesh.

However, given the balance of their side and the amount of batting and bowling options available to captain Darren Sammy, perhaps the West Indians could spring a surprise and make an impact.

It will be a difficult tournament that will require a number of players to hit form, but with all their resources, the West Indians could be a force to be reckoned with.