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Preview: England, Windies chasing history

03 April 2016
Our voices

The latest team news, form guides and more ahead of the men's WT20 final between England and the West Indies

About the Writer:
 @samuelfez

Sam Ferris is a Sydney-based journalist for cricket.com.au. He started in 2011 as a Big Bash League correspondent and continues to monitor the domestic scene and national sides closely.

The overview

The men's World T20 final pits a care-free West Indies outfit against an England side that has adopted the same attitude as their Caribbean rivals with tremendous success in the past 12 months.

It's been an interesting year for both sides.

Rewind to March 2015 and England were about to get knocked out of the ICC Cricket World Cup in Australia, booted by a spirited Bangladesh who outplayed, outfoxed and most alarmingly, out-enthused them.

England's selectors dropped an 11th-hour bombshell by axing long-term captain Alastair Cook for the determined and dashing Eoin Morgan only months before the tournament opener in Melbourne against Australia. That wasn't the move responsible for an early exit though, it was more the batting order, the tired bowling attack and an archaic game plan.

Coach Peter Moores didn't last much longer, and since Australian Trevor Bayliss has been in charge, the 'new' England have smashed batting records, been both dynamic and destructive with the ball, and have taken the game on with a simple strategy: back yourself and attack.

Does that sound familiar? The West Indies know no other way. Their journey to the subcontinent almost ended before it began with a pay dispute between the West Indies board and the Players' Association – an ongoing issue in the Caribbean – threatening to derail their campaign.

WATCH: Sammy explains the 'Champion' dance

But thankfully a compromise was reached and the 15-man squad, led by charismatic captain Darren Sammy, took their place in the competition.

Armed with a chip on their shoulders, a point to prove and a surprisingly catchy theme song, the Windies have once against taken the World T20 by storm and will be hoping to be crowned champions for the second time on Sunday.

The road to the final

England

Lost to West Indies by six wickets at Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai – England got Gayle'd

Beat South Africa by two wickets at Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai – Root, Roy chase down 230

Beat Afghanistan by 15 runs at Feroz Shah Kotla, Delhi – From 6-57 to 7-142. Lucky to escape.

Beat Sri Lanka by 10 runs at Feroz Shah Kotla, Delhi – The Buttler did it as Angelo falls short

Beat New Zealand by seven wickets at Feroz Shah Kotla, Delhi – Stokes with the ball, Roy the bat

West Indies

Beat England by six wickets at Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai – Another Gayle T20 masterclass

Beat Sri Lanka by seven wickets at M Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bangalore – Badree, Fletcher do the business

Beat South Africa by three wickets at VCA Stadium, Nagpur – Final over thriller knocks Proteas out

Lost to Afghanistan by six runs at VCA Stadium, Nagpur – The loss they had to have?

Beat India by seven wickets at Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai – Simmons, Russell outdo Kohli's epic

The teams

The pitch has an even covering of grass according to the respective captains, so expect minimal spin and low impact from the slow bowlers.

With that said, both sides will have dual spinning options at their disposal – Samuel Badree and Sulieman Benn for the Windies; Adil Rashid and Moeen Ali for England.

It's hard to change a winning formula so Gayle and Johnson Charles will open the batting for the West Indies, while Alex Hales and Jason Roy will front up against the new ball for England. 

While Gayle is the key wicket for England, the West Indies will be desperate to see the back of Joe Root sooner rather than later.

WATCH: Windies stun India to reach the final

The interesting match-up is between the sides' allrounders; England's Ben Stokes and Ali against Dwayne Bravo and Andre Russell of the West Indies. There's firepower to spare between those four men, and the winning combo could determine the outcome of the match.

Possible England XI: Jason Roy, Alex Hales, Joe Root, Eoin Morgan (c), Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes, Moeen Ali, Chris Jordan, David Willey, Adil Rashid, Liam Plunkett

Possible West Indies XI: Chris Gayle, Johnson Charles, Marlon Samuels, Lendl Simmons, Andre Russell, Dinesh Ramdin, Dwayne Bravo, Darren Sammy, Carlos Brathwaite, Samuel Badree, Sulieman Benn

The venue

It's always tricky to know what to do at the toss. Does the winning captain elect to bat and put runs on the board? Or does he send the opposition in chase a target?

In the four matches at Eden Gardens so far in the tournament, the results are 50-50; two teams have won batting first, while two sides have won chasing.

WATCH: England thrash NZ to reach WT20 final

The average score batting first is 154, but against these two red-hot batting line-ups, 190 is minimum. 

The travel 

The intense nature of T20 cricket can be exhausting. On top of the matches there's all the training, media commitments and travel, and it's the latter where England hold a significant advantage.

Morgan's men have visited only three cities during the tournament – Mumbai, Delhi and now Kolkata for the final, covering a total distance of 2,874km.

WATCH: Windies celebrate their semi-final win

The West Indies, meanwhile, have criss-crossed the subcontinent from Kolkata to Mumbai, then to Bangalore and Delhi, before returning to Mumbai for the semi-final and back to where it all started in Kolkata for the showdown on Sunday, totalling an epic 6,789km.

The forecast

There's a slim chance of thunderstorms in the early afternoon before clearing in the evening. Top of 33 degrees Celsius. 

How to watch

The men's final will be LIVE on Fox Sports 1 from 11pm AEST and you can follow all the action with @cricketaus on Twitter with all the news and highlights on cricket.com.au

The prediction

West Indies' batting is better than their bowling. England's batting is better than their bowling. West Indies' batting is better than England's batting. England's bowling is better than West Indies' bowling. Momentum even. Windies in a Super Over.

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