KOLKATA: Even though it’s difficult at times to pick a favourite in finals, England will know they start as the team to beat. After losing to West Indies in their opening fixture, they have crushed every opponent. Barring Eoin Morgan’s poor run with the bat, there is no real headache. Up against them is a West Indies side that believes Sunday can be another day to party.
With power-hitters and all-rounders, England hold the edge. They have relied on basics and in a format that demands boundaries, have not ignored singles and doubles. Unlike previous sides, they play without fear and their performance has generated such hype that whatever they did during Saturday’s practice session was followed by a small group of English scribes. Cameramen were right behind and for Morgan & Co, the first challenge is to overcome the occasion.
“We’re quite real about things and know it’s not going to be a normal game. Even the semifinal we played, there was quite a lot of hype. I want our players to embrace it. Tomorrow, everything will feel a little bit rushed to start with. So it’s important we are in the right frame of mind to slow it down when needed and execute our skills,” Morgan said.
Dumped in the group stages of last year’s 50-over World Cup, this is a welcome change in English cricket. Morgan and coach Trevor Bayliss have done their homework and picked players who provide results even if it means dropping bowlers like Stuart Broad, Steve Finn and slamming the door permanently on Kevin Pietersen. For a side that struggled to find match-winners in shorter formats, suddenly there are many and a win at Eden Gardens will be a huge boost.
“Considering the strides we’ve made in the last 12 months in white-ball cricket, this would be a great reward for the mindset we’ve shown, the dedication and hard work. It’s quite a stark difference from 12 months ago. It’s hard to believe in some ways. I would never have imagined the turnaround being so immediate. With talent and hard work, the key components have been the mindset of players and back-room staff. It has rubbed off on everyone,” he said.
If England sounded cautious despite ticking every box, the mood in the West Indies camp is the opposite. To say they are upbeat would be an understatement. Their body language hardly betrayed nervousness and if they needed encouragement, bowling coach Curtly Ambrose was there with a pep talk before the nets session at Eden Gardens.
Player for player, West Indies have the arsenal to match England. But one area of concern will be their inability to rotate strike. Among all the teams in the Super 10 stage, they had the highest percentage of playing dot balls — 45.4. In five matches including the semifinal, they failed to score off 259 deliveries. But that has clearly been their plan.
“People say we don’t rotate the strike well. And we talk about that but we also know we’re a boundary-hitting team. First of all, you need to stop the boundaries and that’s been a little difficult for oppositions. Since the inception of T20, this has been a boundary-hitting team and I’m not surprised with it. We’re focused on England but more focused on ourselves. We believe if we do what West Indies can do, we will be destructive,” skipper Darren Sammy warned.
Pitch & conditions
The pitch is likely to have a cover of grass and could still offer some assistance to the. Batsmen too can expect the ball to come on to the bat. Dew could be a factor too. There are chances of a mild thunderstorm.
0 WI are yet to bat first in this WT20. They have chased in all five games.
9 Darren Sammy has won the toss in his last nine T20 International matches.