T20 World Cup 2021 – Eng vs WI

T20 World Cup 2021 – Eng vs WI



Captain Kieron Pollard denies that his team has a psychological edge over England as they go into a re-match of the final from five years ago

West Indies’ squad got together and relived Carlos Brathwaite‘s ‘remember the name’ assault that delivered them their last world title more than five years ago, but that victory won’t impact their opener against England in this T20 World Cup. So said the captain Kieron Pollard before their final training session on Friday evening.

“In terms of personnel and bearing, to say it can have a big impact, I don’t think so. But it’s definitely going to be in the back of our minds. I thought what Carlos did in those four deliveries in that last over, it was unbelievable and it’s something that we actually as a team saw last night and it brought goosebumps back to us. For us to be back in that situation, to get over the line, it shows that sort of never-say-die attitude and we, as a team, look forward to replicating this entire tournament.

“Those sort of moments stick with us and hopefully we can just go out and play good cricket and get in a position and situation where we are actually in the final, so we can have some memories as well going forward. But having said that, I don’t think it will have much bearing on tomorrow’s game because it’s like another game of cricket as the situation was totally different – it being a final – but be that as it may, looking forward to coming out and show and give a good account of ourselves.”

Having missed Kolkata Knight Riders’ last seven matches in the IPL, including the final, Andre Russell returned to action in the warm-up against Afghanistan on October 18. He picked up 1 for 13 in two overs and managed 11 off 16 balls as well, but is still not a certain starter for Saturday’s game.

“As of right now, we have our last practice session this afternoon and will have a last look and see,” Pollard said. “If we’re confident for him [Russell] to take the field… he played in that warm-up game a couple of days ago and it was just like a trial for him because he hasn’t played a cricket match in about three-four weeks, so there’s still some rust there for him, still needed to be a bit confident in his mind. But I’m sure even yesterday and a couple of days before that, he’s been working tirelessly behind the scenes to be fit.

“So, let’s see what transpires in this last session, but with that being said, I think as a team we’re clear in our mind which direction we will want to go as opposed to not being clear and just waiting on that individual to decide or decide his fitness from a medical point of view.”

In that warm-up against Afghanistan, West Indies came a cropper against spin, Mohammad Nabi leading the way for his side with extraordinary figures of 4-2-2-3. Pollard, however, was confident that his batters would adapt to spin better in the main tournament.

“I think in terms of spinners, it’s just a matter of backing your strengths, backing your ability, understanding the situation, knowing when you need to rotate the strike and knowing when we need to use our power-hitting abilities and playing to our strength if we have to show that intent of hitting spin. So, I think for us, it’s the mindset and the guys have worked tirelessly – I keep saying that – but we’ve worked really, really hard in the nets to try to understand the situation and what is actually needed.”

Pollard also admitted that West Indies would miss the all-round abilities of Fabian Allen, who has been sidelined from the tournament with an ankle injury. Left-arm fingerspinner Akeal Hosein has been upgraded from the reserves as his replacement, having bowled with good control for Trinbago Knight Riders, especially in the powerplay. Prior to joining the West Indies squad, Hosein was part of the KKR camp as a net bowler in the IPL.

“He’s a big miss,” Pollard said of Allen. “Obviously, he was part of our plans throughout the entire home season. He’s an exciting player, we know what he can do with the bat in the back end, the way he’s electric in the field and of course his bowling. He’s done a pretty decent job for us when he’s gotten that opportunity, so yes, he’s a big miss. It’s very, very unfortunate for him, he’s a young guy looking forward to play in his first T20 World Cup, but that’s the nature of sports and as a team it’s something we tend to bounce off pretty quickly and not sort of let those things keep us down.

“We’ve got an able replacement in Akeal Hosein who has done himself a great deal of good with his performances in the CPL and in international cricket and ODI cricket. Yes, he’s young in his career but he takes on the mantle of bowling some difficult overs previously, so let’s see what he can give to us and we’re looking forward to the performances of all our spinners, bowlers and everyone.”

Deivarayan Muthu is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo


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