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The T20 World Cup Final Preview (from both camps)

 

England View – Nigel Armitage.

So my good friend and colleague, Iresh Pillay, wearing his South African sunglasses, wrote his preview of the tournament and effectively ruled out Australia, New Zealand, West Indies and indeed, England (fair play to our other good friend, Nikhil, who tipped England as ‘dark horses’!) of winning the 2016 T20 World Cup.  And why wouldn’t he?  T20 is such a fickle beast and, as poorly as they did play against the West Indies, had they defended that massive total against England a few days before, or indeed had England allowed Angelo Mathews to hit just a couple more lusty blows, South Africa could well be playing the Windies this Sunday instead of my beloved home nation.

But that is the nature of T20, right..?  And that’s why (mostly) we love it so.  I am the biggest fan of Test cricket, but equally, I won’t deny the excitement and drama of this form of the game and I think if we accept more and more that T20 and Tests are two different sports, the more we can grow to appreciate both forms of the game.  T20 games have defining moments…

Lendl Simmons should have been out three times but for extraordinary reprieves which surely cost India the Final; Bangladesh inexplicably threw away victory needing 2 runs off 3 balls; Virat Kohli clutched wins for India batting in the form of… ANYONE’s life; Moeen Ali and David Willey plundered 20 runs off the penultimate over against Afghanistan saving yet another embarrassing exit from a World tournament; Ben Stokes took two huge wickets from rank full-bungers to transform the other Semi-Final (although I do fancy England could have chased 20 or 30 more on Tuesday); I could go on and on.

So, what will be the turning point on Sunday?  Well, first of all, let’s hope it is not just the toss of the commemorative coin (pictured above).  History and Indian conditions more than favour teams batting second and whatever the conditions, you would be dumfounded if the Captain winning the toss, does anything else but hurriedly insert the opposition.  However, there is hope that a flip of the coin won’t resign the poorly tosser to certain defeat.  Kolkata has hosted a few games already this tournament and they have been no means run fests.  Indeed, there has been spin not forgetting Ashwin and Jadeja turning the ball square against Pakistan, as well as the Kiwi spinners, especially the very impressive Sodhi, showing up the Bangladeshis.   So there is hope, just a smidge of it, that the best team will win, batting first or second.

So, if it is a turner, who do we fancy..?  Well, ironically, you would think I would be the other way around, but my head says England, but my heart (or moreover, my gut feeling) says the Windies.  We have seen little of Rashid so far, but I am sure he will revel on a turning wicket just as Badree will and Ali should even out Benn.  Ultimately, I feel England will play spin better and I am much happier at the thought that the big hitters, especially Andre Russell (more than Gayle) won’t a have a ‘road’ to give them freedom to clear the ropes at will.

I just hope the England boys turn up.  Every single player has contributed through the last two weeks (except maybe Hales who ironically is our highest ranked batsman), we bat all the way down to 11 (Plunkett no mean hitter in his own right) and we have the sixth bowler, a luxury the Caribbean boys do not have due to Sammy not bowling (I am not sure why) and basically, if we get Gayle and Russell cheap, we should win easy…..right..?

West Indies View – Ian Chin

So here we are, and the stage is set for what is sure to be a fantastic final’s match between England and my very own West Indies. The Windies cemented their place when they defeated India in a very thrilling match, and one where in the end the silence of the crowd said it all.

What the Windies did prove, and what I have been saying all along is this team is built beyond just Chris Gayle; there are match winners up and down the order. In my opinion the Windies and England are teams, which are similar in many aspect; guess what two teams managed to hit the most boundaries in the world cup? Also, what teams do you think had the highest contribution of runs from boundaries? You guessed it, England and the Windies. Also, both teams bat very deep with the middle order having the ability to up the ante when needed, in other words bring out the firepower and hit the fences. With the Windies you have a team built to hit boundaries, and not worry too much about dot balls, while England can hit boundaries but aren’t afraid to run the odd singles and doubles.

Where the Windies do hold a heavy advantage is that they have been here before, and will not be shell-shocked. I have a strong feeling the pressure may be a bit too much for the young English side. The Windies have played in big matches both in the 2012 world cup and domestic 20/20 leagues around the world. Now what I think is the biggest key for them, it’s the venue they are playing in. Granted this pitch on Sunday will offer more for the bowlers but, seven (eight if you include Brathwaite) of the West Indian players play in the IPL, so these grounds are familiar to them. Lendl Simmons even called the pitch in Mumbai yesterday his home ground. This level of comfort is a luxury the English batsman do not have and may play a factor as I am sure the crowd may be heavily in favor of the boys in maroon. On this pitch, ideally I would love to see the Windies chase again as this is their biggest strength and most importantly not get away from what got them here.

The big question, and might I say this is more of guarantee, in the words of Dwayne Bravo “Champ-ion, Champ-ion, don’t yah know West Indies is da Champ-ion”!!!! Here’s to a great match! Nige and the rest of the barmy army, best of luck but not too much. Just remember the trophy is coming home to where it belongs and that’s back in the Caribbean. Oh and while nothing is guaranteed in cricket, one thing we do know for sure is that we are going to see a repeat champion for the first time ever in this format. GAME ON BOYS!!!!

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