It could be said that those who aren’t the greatest fans of the IPL, would be desperately waiting for a change of guard. But there won’t be any more complaints come to May-end. On May 31, all eyes will be transfixed at the home of world cricket. In bidding hopefully an exciting farewell to the month, we’ll have amidst us what is expected to be an epic contest.
West Indies take on ICC World XI as normal cricket resumes
With the West Indies taking on an ICC World XI in a charity game, competitive cricket will turn to 22 good Samaritans. The idea will be to provide for the massive damages experienced by the Caribbean last year due to hurricanes. Expect nothing less than a mouth-watering prospect of seeing the reigning world champions take on a side boasting of an assortment of Sri Lankan, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, English and Kiwi talents.
A contest that could so easily put the bat against the ball in a battle for supremacy would place capricious West Indies batsmen against a quality bowling attack.
It’s not hard to understand why West Indies will have to play out of their skins?
The last they featured in a competitive T20 series, West Indies were whitewashed by Pakistan. Going 3-0, the sub-continental fans thanked them for taking the trouble to hit Pakistan’s embittered shores but extended a spanking to Dinesh Ramdin-led side.
Even as Carlos Brathwaite, Evin Lewis and probably Gayle will feature as Windies’ biggies, there’s reason to worry.
Their opponents, World XI- propelled by some great all-round talents- will most likely feature the likes of Shakib Al Hassan, Shahid Afridi, Hardik Pandya in the playing eleven.
That leaves us with what might be the likely World XI?
Eoin Morgan is expected to lead the ICC against the West Indies in a format that is suited for typical Caribbean destruction and he’ll have the services of the following players:
Luke Ronchi (New Zealand)
Tamim Iqbal (Bangladesh)
Shoaib Malik (Pakistan)
Shakib Al Hasan (Bangladesh)
Eoin Morgan (England)
Dinesh Karthik (India)
Hardik Pandya (India)
Thisara Perera (Sri Lanka)
Shahid Afridi (Pakistan)
Rashid Khan (Afghanistan)
Mitchell McClenaghan (New Zealand)
Does this mean a World XI all-round show vs. batting-heavy Windies?
Probably any casual follower of the West Indies in recent times will tell you that they’re ailing in the absence of familiar big names. There seems to be no amity between the cricket board and the likes of Sammy, Narine, Pollard and Bravo who continue to languish in absence of international call-ups, featuring in freelancing T20 duties.
That’s a narrative that may not change this time around even as there may be an imminent surprise for next year’s world cup squad.
In this scenario, one may expect the likes of Shai Hope, Shimron Hetmyer, Rovman Powell, Samuel Badree and Marlon Samuels to take their usual T20 places, although for Hope and Hetmyer this will be an exciting chance to test their games against some of the world’s best.
Swashbuckle versus experience
If there’s an X-factor that will ferry World XI’s chances, it’ll be the presence of their spinners, including Rashid Khan. 4 overs of Khan in a format where big hits are invitational crowd pullers could either add to Windies’ woes (being an inconsistent side) or experience a counter-attack of the kinds that Gayle recently showed from King’s XI’s stable.
Moreover, with the presence of Shakib Al Hasan and Hardik Pandya, Windies’ bowling- predominantly resting on Badree’s flat leg spinners and Brathwaite’s medium pacers will be up against a behemoth all-round force.
It could well be both swing and big hits as joining Pandya and Hasan will be in-form Morgan and Karthik, the latter collecting some valuable runs in the ongoing IPL.
Here’s what the volatile Windies will have to guard against
Not the best fielders of their own bowling and often diminutive in regards to their own lanky frames where fielding in the outfield is concerned, a factor Windies will also have to guard against would be the ability to concede runs through extras. Roach, Holder, and if Joseph plays- are renowned over-steppers. Kesrick Williams will be expected to lead the attack and emerge with quick wickets.
In addition, the contest offers them a great chance to try out new names in a contest that’s ultimately for the charitable cause. Why not play someone like Rahkim Cornwall?