England will look to overcome the West Indies on Sunday as the World T20 finally draws to a close. 35 games spread out over just under a month will come to an end on the 3rd April as both sides look to end their campaign on the ultimate high note. The final will be played at Eden Gardens with the match starting at 2:30 pm GMT.
For England, this is a chance to cap off a remarkable resurgence since the disastrous 2015 World Cup campaign. Despite facing defeat to the minnows of World Cricket just 16 months ago, tomorrow they will go into the final fully confident that they can go all the way and win this competition. England will take confidence from a world record chase against South Africa early in the competition and the impressive way Eoin Morgan's men dismissed New Zealand in the semi-finals.
The West Indies have equally impressed. The side had never been touted as favourites by the media but impressed heavily. The West Indies have heavily benefited from not only Chris Gayle's explosive form but also the incredible backup he has received from the rest of the West Indies' batting order. A lot of credit has to be given to the West Indies captain Darren Sammy. The captain may not have made a massive contribution with the bat, but he has to be given credit for the way he has managed to make a team full of T20 mercenaries play with a sense of togetherness normally reserved for a club side.
The Key Battles
Explosive Hitters: Chris Gayle - Jos Buttler
A big portion of this match will come down to who can clear the boundaries the most often. Chris Gayle comes into this match up with a much larger reputation and far more experience than Jos Buttler, but that certainly doesn't mean he's more important to his side. Buttler will come into this game knowing that there is a large amount of weight on the young man's shoulders. The explosive wicket-keeper batsman not only has the power to dispatch bowlers over cow corner but also has the touch and innovation that makes him a true 360° player, a bowler knowing the batsman can either smash you for miles or could scoop you over the keeper with ease makes him a nightmare to bowl at.
Chris Gayle gives the bowlers a similar nightmare. While the opener may not have the same innovation and touch that Buttler has, Gayle doesn't need it. The West Indies batsman has an extreme ability to stand tall and clear the fence no matter which ball is delivered to him.
Hard Hitting All-Rounders: Andre Russell - Ben Stokes
Both teams have benefitted enormously from having incredible all-rounders in their squad. In the West Indies side, Andre Russel stands out as their explosive all-rounder. The globe-trotting T20 specialist has an enormous amount of experience and ability available to him. Russell has featured in almost all T20 competitions across the world, most of them a number of times. As a regular feature in the Big Bash League and the Indian Premier League, the all-rounder has plenty of experience playing under heavy pressure and having the eyes of the world on him.
Ben Stokes, on the other hand, has featured just once in the Big Bash, when he turned out for the Melbourne Renegades back in 2012. If anything the Durham all-rounder is far more adept in the Test Match arena rather than the T20 game. This doesn't, however, mean his influence should be underestimated. The expressive player has an enormous ability to change a course of the game in just an over. On the bowling side, Stokes has really come into his own, his death bowling ability has flourished and now averages a dot ball every two deliveries in the final four overs of a match. His role in the side has really benefitted from the amazing bowling partnership he has formed with Chris Jordan, the two very quickly transformed into one of the most dangerous death bowling pairs in the tournament.
Middle Order Anchors: Joe Root - Lendl Simmons
While both sides have brilliant hard-hitting openers and plenty of explosive power in their batting ranks, both sides acknowledge the need for a prolific batting anchor who not only has an amazing ability to score runs but also to cope if quick wickets fall around them. Joe Root has been a revelation since he made his England debut in 2012. The number 3 batsman scores runs with ease and has an amazing ability to find the gaps in a field. The Yorkshire batsman has shown he can cope with the pressures of a world tournament as shown by his spectacular 83 against South Africa as he led his side to a world record victory.
Lendl Simmons has had a very short competition, but he has been no less impressive. Simmons wasn't even expecting to be part of the squad in the tournament, but thanks to an injury to Andre Fletcher, he received an eleventh-hour call-up to face India in the semi-finals. His late call-up didn't faze him and the West Indies batsman made an extremely impressive start to his tournament as he scored 82 off 51 deliveries in order to defeat India in the semi-finals to secure his side's place in the final.
Road To The Final
Both teams have had similar routes to the final due to them starting the Super 10's Stage in the same group. England and the West Indies have met already in this year's World T20. It was the very first match of Group 1 and that time England faced defeat, mainly due to a magnificent century from Chris Gayle.
Following their defeat to West Indies, England then moved on to face South Africa. England's confidence may have been dented following their defeat, but against South Africa, their confidence rocketed. Having been set 230 to win by South Africa many expected this to be the end of England's campaign. However, thanks to incredible innings from Roy and Root England rocketed to the highest successful chase in World T20 history.
Following that excellent victory England moved to Delhi to face Afghanistan. A disgraceful batting performance left England facing yet another embarrassing defeat to a minnow side, however, a very strong bowling performance blew the Afghan batting line-up away and saved England from defeat.
England then stayed at Delhi to face Sri Lanka in their final group match. England put on a very average batting performance as they set Sri Lanka 172 for victory. Despite England reducing Sri Lanka to 15-4 in reply, an incredible innings from Angelo Mathews caused a very nervy finish as England held onto a 10 run victory.
England finished their group second, setting up a semi-final with New Zealand. In the semi-final, it was England's bowling that shone brightest. New Zealand got off to a flying start , 91-2 after just 10 overs should have signalled a very strong total, but an incredible death bowling performance restricted New Zealand to 153, a score which never really challenged the England batsmen as they cruised to victory and secured their place in the final.
The West Indies got off to a flying start as a magnificent Chris Gayle century downed England. After their early victory, it was onto Bengaluru for Darren Sammy's men as they faced Sri Lanka. A very good bowling unit limited Sri Lanka to just 122 a total which proved no challenge for the West Indies as they put in a very professional performance to continue their impressive form.
It was then a trip to Nagpur to face South Africa and despite West Indies limiting South Africa to just 122, a very good performance caused a very nervous finish to the match, where West Indies eventually secured victory in the final over of the match.
The West Indies then stayed in Nagpur to face Afghanistan. Despite the West Indies being heavy favourites to secure victory after Afghanistan only scored 123. During the chase, however, a disgraceful batting collapse meant West Indies could only score 118 giving the West Indies their first defeat of the tournament.
The West Indies then moved on to face India in the semi-finals. Despite yet another stunning innings from Virat Kohli propelling India to 192-2, extremely impressive performances from Andre Russel, Lendl Simmons and Johnson Charles meant the West Indies chased it down with relative ease to join England in the final.
Probable Team Line-Ups
Jason Roy, Alex Hales, Joe Root, Jos Buttler (WK) , Eoin Morgan (capt), Ben Stokes, Moeen Ali, Adil Rashid, Chris Jordan, David Willey, Liam Plunkett
Chris Gayle, Johnson Charles, Lendl Simmons, Marlon Samuels, Denesh Ramdin (WK), Dwayne Bravo, Andre Russell, Darren Sammy (capt), Carlos Brathwaite, Sulieman Benn, Samuel Badree