Clash of the T20 WC co-hosts as WI and USA seek crucial points

West Indies

Big picture: WI must avoid defeat

This isn’t a match the tournament expected, but one it deserves all the same. The co-hosts of this T20 World Cup found ways of getting through the group stages, in different fashion and to varying degrees of surprise. West Indies’ unblemished record in the group punctuated by a 104-run hammering of Afghanistan cemented their status as legitimate title contenders. The USA’s progress, meanwhile, depended on a dream of a performance against Pakistan that culminated in Super Over heroics, as well as inclement Florida weather that guaranteed Pakistan would not be offered the opportunity to get back up off the canvas.

But the group stages are a distant memory all of a sudden, and both sides have experienced the cold, unforgiving reality of the Super Eight. West Indies’ hopes of a third title and first on home soil suddenly looks much shakier than it did one game ago, after a reprieved England rediscovered their best form in St Lucia to put them to the sword. Another defeat would put them on the brink of elimination.

West Indies also have to assess how to replace top order batter Brandon King after he suffered a side strain and was forced to retire hurt against England. While runs have been scarce for him this tournament – just 63 in four games in the group stages – he looked at his most dangerous against England. He was unbeaten for 23 off just 13 as West Indies flew off the blocks, with his side briefly losing momentum when he was replaced by Nicolas Pooran.

Above all, this is the first time West Indies find themselves under the pressure of their margin for error diminishing. The USA may not have won since that upset against Pakistan, but have shown no signs of fading away tamely, and briefly looked like running South Africa extremely close in their first Super Eight game before ultimately succumbing to an 18-run defeat.

Aaron Jones’ side, too, need a win to retain realistic hopes of qualification, but they will be aware the weight of expectations remains on their opponents. The game against South Africa was the USA’s weakest bowling performance on a belting track, and still gave South Africa a few jitters. Against a West Indies side who weren’t really close to their best with either bat or ball against England, the USA will know an improved bowling performance on their part gives them a realistic shot at keeping their fairytale campaign alive and kicking.

Form guide

West Indies: LWWWW (last five completed matches, most recent first)

In the spotlight – Russell and Taylor

He has been one of T20 cricket’s most valuable players for the best part of the last decade, but Andre Russell has been kept uncharacteristically quiet for the best part of this World Cup. A pair of unbeaten cameos against PNG and Uganda are about as good as it’s good for him with the bat, and though he continues to chip in with wickets, it is that explosiveness at the death West Indies really need him for. Part of it simply has to do with the batters higher up making sure he wasn’t required, but on the two occasions he was – against New Zealand and England – he fell cheaply. As a veteran of both of West Indies’ triumphant World Cup campaigns, he will know he’s expected to be a lot more influential for his side in the second half of this tournament if they are to go the distance again.

Steven Taylor‘s rise appeared to be proof that cricket in America was capable of attracting US-born athletes to this sport. A precocious rising star through his teenage years, he has been involved with American cricket for well over a decade. This World Cup should have been his crowning glory, but while Aaron Jones, Andries Gous and Saurabh Netravalkar have shone, Taylor has struggled to convert starts into substance at the top of the order. Born to Jamaican parents, he has history with the West Indies, and was once stripped of the US captaincy after he chose to play the CPL over a USA World Cup qualifier. He now comes up against the side he once declared an intention to play for, and the stakes could hardly be higher.

Team news

King’s unavailability means West Indies need a replacement at the top of the order. Shimron Hetmyer is likely to get the call-up.

West Indies: 1 Shimron Hetmyer 2 Johnson Charles 3 Nicolas Pooran (wk) 4 Rovman Powell (capt) 5 Roston Chase 6 Andre Russell 7 Sherfane Rutherford 8 Romaria Shepherd 9 Akeal Hosein 10 Alzarri Joseph 11 Gudakesh Motie

USA captain Monank Patel has not played since the game against Pakistan due to a shoulder injury, and remains a doubt for this contest. Jasdeep Singh, meanwhile, endured a horror game that saw him concede 28 off his first five balls, which could bring Shadley van Schalkwyk back into the frame

USA: 1 Steven Taylor 2 Andries Gous (wk) 3 Nitish Kumar 4 Aaron Jones (capt) 5 Corey Anderson 6 Shayan Jahangir 7 Harmeet Singh 8 Nosthush Kenjinge 9 Shadley van Schalkwyk 10 Ali Khan 11 Saurabh Netravalkar

Pitch and conditions

Bridgetown has seen relatively high scores in comparison to the rest of the tournament, though it did play host to the low-scoring tie between Namibia and Oman at the start of the tournament. It will be a humid evening, with chances of rain low.

Stats and trivia

  • The USA are looking to become the first non Full Member to make the semi-finals of an ICC event since Kenya reached that stage in 2003.
  • West Indies have played two T20 World Cup matches in Barbados, both at the 2010 tournament. They split the games, losing to Sri Lanka before beating India.
  • Obed McCoy and Akeal Hosein are both closing in on wicket-taking milestones, one and two wickets away respectively from 50 T20I scalps.
  • Danyal Rasool is ESPNcricinfo’s Pakistan correspondent. @Danny61000

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