World Cup team analysis: Will West Indies give Gayle a parting gift?

The Jason Holder-led side is ready to mount a challenge for the other sides

After a long period of flux, experts believe that the West Indies is ready to mount a challenge for other teams at the cricket World Cup in England.

After ‘Kapil’s Devils’ upset the West Indies in June 1983 at Lord’s to clinch the third Prudential World Cup, the Kings of one-day cricket have not been a force to reckon with. They have been a far cry from Clive Lloyd’s band of cricketers who ruled the roost.

However, recent events around the West Indies have made one and all look at Jason Holder’s team with a ray of hope. Brian Lara, its greatest batsman of modern era, has taken the view that the nuts and bolts of the team are in order and has become a capable lot.

Burying the hatchet

Most significantly the policy of the new management of the West Indies Cricket Board to bury the hatchet with some of its cricketers and choose the best team has resulted in mass changes in the squad from the one that undertook the qualifying route in Zimbabwe in 2018.

The West Indies finished as the second-best team at the qualifiers in Harare and despite having Chris Gayle in the squad, it lost to Afghanistan twice.

Placed ninth in the ICC ODI rankings in September 2017, the West Indies came through the qualifiers with victories against Ireland, United Arab Emirates, the Netherlands and Papua New Guinea, Zimbabwe and Scotland.

Getting noticed

After making the World Cup main draw, it has played 20 ODIs and won only seven. But what has made everyone take notice is the 2-2 result in a home ODI series against England this February.

West Indies found a match-winner in Gayle (424 runs) and a bowling combination that worked around fast bowlers Oshane Thomas, Sheldon Cottrell, Holder and Carlos Brathwaite.

The discerning have also taken into account the West Indies’ stunning Test series win against England.

The recent form of the team, though, has been erratic. However, it must have been pleased to see Shai Hope run into form as an opener, scoring 470 runs in the tri-series in Dublin.

He and John Campbell (not in the World Cup squad) put on a world record stand of 365 for the first wicket against Ireland.

The West Indies selectors dropped leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo after a dismal display against India, Bangladesh and England. They have recalled fast bowler Shannon Gabriel (with Alzarri Joseph injured) after 16 months.

Following his spectacular showing with the bat in the IPL Andre Russell has won a place. Kieron Pollard and Dwayne Bravo are only in the 10-man reserve team.

Skipper Holder appears to have the resources though spin, comprising Fabian Allen (left-arm) and Ashley Nurse (right arm off-break) is the weak link.

The World Cup would be Gayle’s last hurrah in ODIs. Confirming this, he said before the five-match series against England: “Absolutely, the youngsters owe it to me. They have to try and get me the trophy. “I’ll be looking to give my inputs as well. It is a big year for me. I hope I can finish 2019 on a high.”

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