"Experiencing that, for some of our guys, is still a motivation," Those are the words of the England captain Eoin Morgan’s before the start of the Super 12 of the T20 World Cup and the 'that' he referred to, is the heartbreaking loss they suffered at the hands of West Indies in the final of the last edition of the tournament.
Then, he followed up with, “Since then we have been favourites in every world tournament we have played in - the 2017 Champions Trophy and 2019 World Cup,” to establish what his team have been able to achieve in the five years after that horrible night.
It is with that feeling and memories that Morgan called 'motivational' for himself and his side, that they are set to open their campaign against the same side.
When he will walk for the toss for the first time in the tournament, he will have a different counterpart in Kieron Pollard that will make him realise once again that that 'that' loss is left far behind and both the sides have moved past it.
After that defeat, England picked themselves up from the disappointment and doubled down on aggression with the bat and adopted a ruthless approach that strengthened the core of the side and led to a World Cup triumph.
On the other hand, West Indies’ journey with on and off performances continued and it became so evident that the name “Carlos Brathwaite” that the legendary commentator Ian Bishop wanted the world to remember has been forgotten by the West Indies side themselves.
It is with that setting and backdrop that Morgan and Pollard will walk down to the ground in Dubai and neither of them will be willing to shed an inch and early mover’s advantage.
England vs West Indies
Match: Match 14, Super 12, Group 1
Date and Time: October 23, 06:00 pm Local, 07:30 pm IST
Broadcast: Star Sports Network, Hotstar (in India)
This will be the first game of the tournament at the Dubai International Stadium. While there is a certain amount of intrigue and unknown about the nature of the surface, what is guaranteed is that there will be a fresh surface.
If the matches of the Indian Premier League are the piece of evidence to go by, there will be the pace and carry on offer to the pace bowlers.
Also, the pacers who rely on cutters and change of pace can come in handy if it is a drier surface and it can also bring spinner in the game.
Tymal Mills is likely to be back for England after a gap of nearly five years and he has a prolific record in the back-end overs of the game. If England have to ace the game in that phase of the game, he will have to come at the top of Windies batsmen hungry for big sixes, especially their skipper Pollard.
Pollard is a veteran of the T20 format and uses the last few overs to lift his team’s score or get them over the line by using all his muscle to threaten the opposition bowling attack.
Mills has an excellent mixture of rapid pacey deliveries and slower balls and he could instrumental in flummoxing Pollard and subsequently combatting the firepower of the Windies batting lineup.
West Indies have not been defeated yet by England in a global T20 tournament including the 2010 edition where they had emerged victorious. The men in marron defeated Morgan’s army on two occasions in the last edition and England will be eager to take a right forward on the path of settling the score in the very first game.
West Indies have as many as six players in the probable first-choice XI who have played in a triumphant T20 tournament and their rich vein of experience will come in handy in pressure situations against an England line-up that are without most of their players who led them to ODI World Cup win in 2019.
England are the new powerhouse of white-ball cricket but if there is one team that can be credited with the revolution of six-hitting, the men in marron will take that award hands down without any fight from other sides.
The ability to hit the ball over the fence in a nonchalant way comes naturally to them, at least it seems that way and they also have an elite mindset to keep going for it irrespective of match situations. Sometimes, it hurts them and earns them critics, but that has been their model of success in the past.
England have had the same mindset as well and in fact, they have gone so far as to adopt the same model in fifty overs cricket as well. So, the encounter will be decided on which bowling attack will be better equipped to hold on to the batsmen from hitting big ones and the nature of the pitch.
England will have a tough call to take with regards to the selection or non-selection of Dawid Malan, the number one batsman on the ICC Rankings. He was off-colour in both the warm-up games and there is enough evidence to suggest that his game is not made for slower pitches.
The pitch in Dubai should offer pace but it will not be a belter and hence he can be found out and England can’t choose to overlook the likes of Moeen Ali, who has been marvellous with the bat and economical with the ball on similar surfaces in the IPL 2021.
England don’t have mystery spinners and hence their bowling attack is likely to be pace-heavy where one of Chris Woakes and David Willey will be assigned the task of picking wickets with the new ball.
The trio of Chris Jordan, Mark Wood and Tymal Mills will form the core of the bowling attack to cover all the bases and phases of the game and Wood, in particular, can also be used as an enforcer right after the powerplay.
Jason Roy, Jos Buttler (WK), Jonny Bairstow, Moeen Ali, Liam Livingstone, Eoin Morgan (C), Chris Woakes, Chris Jordan, Adil Rashid, Mark Wood, Tymal Mills
There was a lot of hoopla around Chris Gayle’s place in the West Indies playing XI in the World Cup, but he's all but certain to start the tournament against England. However, he is unlikely to open the batting and the Windies will bank on the pair of Lendl Simmons and Evin Lewis for a berserk start.
The young dynamic duo of Nicholas Pooran and Shimron Hetmyer should constitute the middle order to make the most of the spinners in the middle phase while the old horses in the form of skipper Pollard, Andre Russell and Dwayne Bravo will take the ownership of flourishing finish with the bat.
Hayden Walsh Jr. had emerged as a potent leg spinner in the home series against South Africa and Australia and he is likely to be the only frontline spinner in the squad.
Obed McCoy, who has emerged as one of the best exponents of the variations with the ball in the Windies team is also a certain starter in the bowling department while Oshane Thomas should find himself in the playing XI for bringing a different quality—raw pace to the table.
Evin Lewis, Lendl Simmons, Chris Gayle, Nicholas Pooran (WK), Shimron Hetmyer, Kieron Pollard, Andre Russell, Dwayne Bravo, Hayden Walsh Jr, Obed McCoy, Oshane Thomas
Jason Roy, Nicholas Pooran, Shimron Hetmyer, Liam Livingstone, Moeen Ali, Kieron Pollard, Adil Rashid, Hayden Walsh Jr., Mark Wood
Captain - Jos Buttler
Vice-captain - Evin Lewis