England and West Indies will carry on freshly-renewed rivalry from the Caribbean into the Rose Bowl in Southampton on Friday with Barbados-born pace sensation Jofra Archer adding spice to the World Cup contest.
The teams were tied 2-2 in their high-scoring five-match ODI series in February with one game being a washout. The series, which took place in the Caribbean islands, saw sensational performances from Chris Gayle, who smashed as many 39 sixes and amassed 424 runs in four innings.
The ‘Universe Boss’ will be backing himself for an encore against England whose bowling attack has become more potent with Archer’s addition. He has bowled with fire and venom so far in the competition and his face-off with Gayle is the one to watch out for.
Archer, who has played his junior cricket in the Caribbean and qualified to play for England only in April, is a familiar figure for the West Indies camp and it knows what the 24-year-old is capable of.
“To be honest, we knew Jofra for a long time. He is from Barbados, where we are from. We knew him from the U15s, U17s, U19s so he is not new to us. Yes, he’s bowling quickly, but there’s nothing that we are not accustomed to. We are looking forward to the challenge. So we will see how it goes on Friday,” said West Indies coach Floyd Reifer ahead of the game.
West Indies too boast of express pace in their arsenal, adding to the excitement of what promises to be a mouthwatering battle.
The Jason Holder-led side would be itching to take the field after a washout against South Africa at the same venue on Monday. All-rounder Andre Russell, who has had chronic knee issues, was not named in the playing eleven against the Proteas. It remains to be seen if he regains full fitness for the England clash.
England too had their fitness issues with key player Jos Buttler hurting his right hip against Bangladesh but coach Trevor Bayliss said he is expected to be fit for Friday’s game.
The fickle English weather has been a constant concern in this World Cup but rain is predicted to stay away for the majority of the game.
England captain Eoin Morgan, who averages 76.25 at the Hampshire Bowl and was the highest run-scorer for England in the ODI series against West Indies earlier this year.
Chris Gayle relishes batting against England averaging 51.42 against the hosts, contrary to his career average of 38.14
England: Eoin Morgan (captain), Moeen Ali, Jofra Archer, Jonny Bairstow, Jos Buttler, Tom Curran, Liam Dawson, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes,James Vince, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood.
West Indies: Jason Holder (captain), Fabian Allen, Carlos Brathwaite, Darren Bravo, Sheldon Cottrell, Shannon Gabriel, Chris Gayle,Shimron Hetmyer, Shai Hope, Evin Lewis, Ashley Nurse, Nicholas Pooran, Kemar Roach, Andre Russell, Oshane Thomas.
Match starts 3 PM IST.
(With PTI and ICC inputs)