We have reached the business end of the ICC World T20 2016, and it is time for the big final. England and West Indies — two teams who were never the favourites to win this tournament — will now take a shy at the silverware for the second time since its inception.
It is for sure that both England and West Indies will be playing no-nonsense cricket so they can get their hands on the trophy at the end of the day at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata.
With the tickets sold out, 65,000 cricket fans will be rooting for the best team. The equation is rather simple now — whoever plays better cricket will win.
The last time these two sides met was during the group stage of the ICC World T20 2016, and West Indies handed England a drubbing by six wickets, courtesy a thunderous innings from none other than Chris Gayle. The big Jamaican smashed a century from just 48 balls. England will be wary of this stat and will look to find a way to stop this dangerous opening batsman.
Gayle has played a lot of cricket at the Eden Gardens in the IPL: He was a former Kolkata Knight Riders player. He has played at least one match every year at this venue ever since he joined Royal Challengers Bangalore. He will be aware of the conditions and that could be a bonus for West Indies.
West Indies proved the other day in the semi-final against India that they do not depend solely on Gayle, as they have other players who can step up if one fails. Lendl Simmons stole the show and took the game away from India. And here they are in the big final, where they will take on England, who also has been brilliant throughout the tournament.
Meanwhile, England cannot focus on Gayle alone, as they have other threats to deal with. The Eoin Morgan-led side has not reached the final just like that. They too have played good all-round cricket. England also have enough firepower in their ranks to take the game away from West Indies. Jason Roy, Alex Hales, Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler, Joe Root and the captain himself can hit the ball out of the park with consummate ease.
Both teams will have to judge the conditions well. The team batting first will obviously have the upper hand at this iconic venue, as chasing at the Eden Gardens has always been a tough job. The pitch always has something for the bowlers, and is likely to offer this Sunday as well. The dew factor will not come into play as it is going to be pretty humid out there in the middle. The team winning the toss should ideally bowl first to put extra pressure on the opponents.
Prediction - West Indies to win.
England: Eoin Morgan (C), Jason Roy, Alex Hales, Joe Root, Jos Buttler (wk), Moeen Ali, Adil Rashid, Ben Stokes, Chris Jordan, David Willey, Liam Plunkett.
West Indies: Darren Sammy (C), Chris Gayle, Johnson Charles, Lendl Simmons, Andre Russell, Dwayne Bravo, Denesh Ramdin (wk), Carlos Brathwaite, Samuel Badree, Marlon Samuel, Suleiman Benn.