West Indies are ready to hit England with six blitz as they attempt to maintain their perfect winning start when the two heavy hitters meet in the T20 World Cup

  • The West Indies have sent a warning to England ahead of their World Cup clash
  • England are seeking to halter the Windies’ perfect start to the competition
  • Jos Buttler’s England side face an improved challenge after easing past Namibia 

As West Indies set about hammering Afghanistan’s bowlers in St Lucia in the last of the T20 World Cup’s group games on Monday night, hotel staff at the nearby Windjammer grumbled about the inclusion at No 4 of Shai Hope, in for the rested Roston Chase.

There have been many moments since West Indies lost their crown as kings of cricket in the mid-1990s when the locals might have grumbled about the entire team. But their complaints are selective now, and not always rational. 

It is a measure of the task facing England as their Super Eights campaign gets under way in the small hours of Thursday morning.

Hope, for what it’s worth, has scored 16 centuries in ODI cricket — more than any Englishman bar Joe Root — and on Monday contributed 25 off 17 balls to West Indies’ 218 for five, the highest total of this World Cup. In thrashing Afghanistan by 104 runs, West Indies joined Australia and South Africa as the only teams with a 100 per cent record.

For England, then, the tournament is about to get serious after a tense fortnight on Barbados and Antigua in which the biggest threats came from the weather and Australia’s experimental performance against Scotland. 

In thrashing Afghanistan by 104 runs, West Indies joined Australia and South Africa as the only teams with a 100 per cent record at the ongoing T20 World Cup

It is a measure of the task facing England as their Super Eights campaign gets under way in the small hours of Thursday morning

It is a measure of the task facing England as their Super Eights campaign gets under way in the small hours of Thursday morning

For England, then, the tournament is about to get serious after a tense fortnight on Barbados and Antigua in which the biggest threats came from the weather and Australia’s experimental performance against Scotland

For England, then, the tournament is about to get serious after a tense fortnight on Barbados and Antigua in which the biggest threats came from the weather and Australia’s experimental performance against Scotland

St Lucia’s Daren Sammy Cricket Ground — named after the West Indies head coach, still the only captain to lift the T20 World Cup twice — will be rocking, with 15,000 locals pulsating to the joy of six. No team here has cleared the ropes as many times as West Indies, though Scotland have equalled their tally of 34. England have hit 19, four fewer than the USA.

And there is no truer surface in the Caribbean than St Lucia. Led by Johnson Charles, from the island’s capital Castries, West Indies hammered 92 for one in the six-over powerplay, the competition’s most productive.

Charles hit 43 before the outrageously talented Nicholas Pooran smashed eight sixes in a 53-ball 98, denied a century only by a direct hit from the deep by Azmatullah Omarzai. 

Captain Rovman Powell then contributed 26 off 15 to push West Indies towards the 200 mark. Later, Powell warned Jos Buttler’s team: ‘We wanted to show them that as much as they are playing good cricket, we are playing good cricket.’

As England quick Reece Topley ominously put it: ‘It might be time for the bowlers to take a bit of medicine.’

Perhaps West Indies’ most fascinating cricketer is Akeal Hosein, a 31-year-old left-arm spinner from Laventille, one of the most crime-ridden areas of the Trinidadian capital, Port of Spain. 

Captain Rovman Powell contributed 26 runs off 15 runs against Afghanistan to push West Indies towards the 200 mark and later warned Jos Buttler’s team

Captain Rovman Powell contributed 26 runs off 15 runs against Afghanistan to push West Indies towards the 200 mark and later warned Jos Buttler’s team

No team here has cleared the ropes as many times as West Indies at the World Cup, though Scotland have equalled their tally of 34. England have hit 19, four fewer than the USA.

No team here has cleared the ropes as many times as West Indies at the World Cup, though Scotland have equalled their tally of 34. England have hit 19, four fewer than the USA.

For Hosein, cricket was a path out of poverty, a means of transcending a life in which — as he recently told ESPNcricinfo — he grew up with gun violence ‘there in your face’.

England’s coterie of right-handers will be doubly wary: not only does he possess an orthodox delivery turning away, he has a lethal inswinger, at almost medium-pace.

In Hosein and fellow left-armer Gudakesh Motie, from Guyana, West Indies boast the tournament’s most dangerous slow-bowling combination. For a region weaned on pace, it is a compelling turnaround.

England bowlers Chris Jordan and Liam Livingstone missed training yesterday with stomach bugs, but both are expected to be available for selection.

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