West Indies, England set to lock horns in World T20 final
Eoin Morgan’s England will hope to complete a remarkable resurgence after exiting the 50-over World Cup a year ago in disgrace after losing to minnows Bangladesh and failing to progress from their group.
The West Indies are also a born-again side inspired by the laid-back, huge-hitting Chris Gayle, and featuring a phalanx of stars such as Andre Russell, Dwayne Bravo and Lendl Simmons who have all had success plying their trade in money-spinning T20 leagues around the globe.
Gayle, already the only man to have scored two hundreds in World Twenty20 history, will look to crack another landmark as the first batsman to record a century of sixes in T20 internationals, having already smashed a record 98.
Gayle has 11 of those in the current tournament. Ominously for England they all came in his 100 not out as the West Indies chased down 183 to beat Morgan’s men in the group stage.
England are adept at clearing the rope themselves and their tally of 34 sixes is the most by any team in the tournament, underlining their remarkable 12-month transformation under Irish-born Morgan.
Opening batsman Jason Roy, one of the stars of the new-look England, promised they would come at their opponents “with all guns blazing” and continue in the same aggressive vein that has confounded their old conservative reputation.
“It’s going to be an incredible experience but we are going to play our natural way and the brand of cricket we have been playing for the last year,” said Roy, who pummelled 78 off 44 balls as England beat New Zealand in the semi-final.
England won the 2010 World Twenty20 and the West Indies took the honours in 2012.
Both will be looking to become the first team to lift the trophy for a second time, but the atmosphere in Kolkata has been subdued in the lead-up to the final after India, seeking to become the first nation to win the World T20 title on home soil, lost to the Windies in the semi-final.
The deadly collapse of a partially built flyover in the north-eastern city on Thursday, which killed 26 people, has also cast a pall across the city ahead of the match at the Eden Gardens stadium.