Despite fielding a weak team, West Indies pushed the hosts India to their limits in the recently-concluded ODI series. Though the men from the Caribbean failed in their attempt to clinch the ODI series, they are expected to dominate in their favorite form of cricket – T20.
Both teams will square off in a 3-match series without some of their star players. India has rested few of their players to test their bench strength. However, the same cannot be said with the West Indies.
The long-lasting pay dispute between the players and WIndies board have forced several players to skip national duty. Players like Chris Gayle, Dwayne Bravo, Darren Sammm, Sunil Narine, and Evin Lewis have opted to feature only in cash-rich T20 leagues.
Their rank of no.7 in the ICC T20I team rankings is a shred of evidence of their continuous struggles without the availability of their star players. Now, let us look at a playing XI comprising of all the star players that can defeat any team in the T20I format.
(All stats relevant till before the first T20I against India).
#1 Chris Gayle
The ‘Universal Boss', Chris Gayle, is the only player in the history of T20 cricket to score 10,000+ runs with a staggering tally of 21 100s and 75 50s. His brutal, hard-hitting skills have earned him huge franchise contracts all over the world. Besides, his part-time off-break bowling has fetched him 79 wickets from 128 innings. He almost single-handedly owns all of the T20 batting records. In short, Gayle is the ‘Bradman of T20 cricket’.
Though Gayle wishes to take part in the upcoming 2019 ICC World Cup, he declared himself unavailable for the current limited-over (both ODI & T20I) series against India.
#2 Evin Lewis
Evin Lewis is the new entrant in the list of hard-hitting players from the Caribbean Islands. In his limited career of 17 T20Is, he has already scored two centuries with the strike rate of 157.44.
With the base price of INR 50 lakhs, Lewis was unsold in the 2017 IPL auction. However, Mumbai Indians signed him for a vast sum of INR 3.8 crore in the 2018 auction. Such is the evolution of Lewis in the T20 format in the last one year.
Recently, Lewis had declined a white-ball contract offered by the national team for the 2018-19 season and pulled out of the India tour.
#3 Marlon Samuels
1611 runs in 67 T20Is with ten 50+ scores at the strike rate of 116.23 – these are the numbers of Marlon Samuels in his decade-long T20I career. Even though the numbers are not very impressive, Samuels’s contribution to the national team is beyond these numbers.
Samuels is the ‘man for the big occasion’. His Man of the Match performances in the 2012 and 2016 ICC T20 World Cup finals are examples of his greatness.
Currently, Samuels is out of the West Indies T20I side. He faltered in the recently concluded ODI series against India.
#4 Denesh Ramdin (Wicket Keeper)
Denesh Ramdin is arguably the best keeper among the players from the Caribbean Islands. In a team full of big-hitting entertainers, the viewers often miss his presence in the team. In 65 T20Is, he has scored 554 runs from 44 innings (in 461 deliveries) with the strike rate of 120.17. With the gloves, he has taken 36 catches and affected 20 stumpings.
Though he was sidelined from the ODI team with the emergence of Shai Hope, he remains an integral part in the T20I side. He will feature in the upcoming T20I series against India.
#5 Kieron Pollard
Kieron Pollard, the big-hitting all-rounder from Trinidad, is one of the biggest names in the franchise T20 leagues. A strike rate of 151.11 in T20s is a testament to his skills with the bat. Pollard announced his arrival to the cricketing fraternity with his exploits in the inaugural edition of now-defunct Champions League T20 for Trinidad & Tobago.
In 431 T20s, he has scored 8511 runs from 388 innings with a single century and 42 50+ scores. With the ball, he has taken 255 wickets from 287 innings with five 4-wicket hauls. Besides, his fielding does not need any explanation.
After a long standoff with the WIndies board, Pollard has finally returned to the International setup, as he was named in the squad for the forthcoming T20I series against India.
#6 Andre Russell
In 222 T20 innings, Russell has scored 4107 runs with an explosive strike rate of 167.35. With the ball, he has claimed 244 wickets from 248 innings with seven 4-wicket hauls. These mind-blowing numbers have fetched him T20 contracts with various leagues around the world.
In the recently concluded CPL 2018, Russell scored a breath-taking century and took a hat-trick in the same match against Trinbago Knight Riders. Currently, Russell has missed the entire India tour as he is nursing a knee injury.
#7 Carlos Brathwaite
‘Remember the name’ – this phrase by the former West Indies great Ian Bishop defines the career of Carlos Brathwaite. His four consecutive sixes against Ben Stokes in the ultimate over of the ICC 2016 T20 WC final that helped Windies clinch the title changed his career to a new level. He was appointed as the captain of the West Indies T20I team as well.
Despite an unsatisfactory record with the bat in the T20 format, a strike rate of 149.82 will always make him a dangerous player. With the ball, he has taken 119 wickets from 128 T20s with a decent economy rate of 7.86.
Currently, he will lead the national team in the 3-match T20I series against India.
#8 Darren Sammy (Captain)
Darren Sammy, the former skipper of the West Indies team, is currently ousted from the national team. Like other West Indies players, Sammy is spending his time with various T20 leagues around the globe.
With the bat, he has scored 3489 runs from 237 T20 innings with the strike rate of 141.31. With the ball, he has taken 157 wickets from 214 innings with two 4-wicket hauls and a single 5-wicket haul.
More than his all-round skills, Sammy is known for his captaincy in the T20 format. Sammy is the only captain in the history of cricket to win two ICC T20 World Cup trophies.
#9 Sunil Narine
Sunil Narine, the ‘Mystery Spinner’ from Trinidad & Tobago, is undoubtedly the best T20 spinner in the current era. Despite being the most successful bowler in the T20 format, he rarely expresses himself in the field.
In 299 T20s, Narine has claimed 342 wickets with a jaw-dropping economy rate of 5.95. Besides, his explosive batting skills at the top of the order have increased his contribution levels to the team. As a result, just like his teammates, Narine is one of the hottest talents in the T20 market around the world.
Currently, Sunil Narine is featuring in only T20 leagues, as he made himself unavailable for the national duty.
#10 Samuel Badree
Unlike other players in this list, Badree has featured in only one format for the national team. In 52 T20Is, he has taken 56 wickets with an impressive economy rate of 6.17.
Badree is a specialist-opening bowler who often bowls his entire quota of four overs in the first half of the innings. His hat-trick for Royal Challengers Bangalore against Mumbai Indians in the 2017 season is an example of his skills with the ball.
Badree’s last International appearance came in the home series against Bangladesh. He is not part of the squad for the upcoming T20I series against India.
#11 Ravi Rampaul
In an era of bowlers with a variety of tricks in their arsenal, Ravi Rampaul with his limited bowling skills will not find a place in a majority of the T20 teams. However, when compared to other fast bowlers who have played for West Indies, Rampaul is the most successful bowler in the T20 format.
In 23 T20Is, Rampaul has taken 29 wickets with a reasonable economy rate of 8.51 for a fast bowler. He was the joint highest wicket-taker for his team in their victorious 2012 ICC T20 WC campaign.
Currently, Rampaul is playing for Derbyshire as a ‘Kolpak’ player.