Star-studded World XI clashes today with World champs for a just cause

Rovmen Powell

Two-time International Cricket Council (ICC) World Twenty20 (WT20) Champions West Indies will have an uphill task when they face a star-studded World XI today in the Hurricane Relief T20 challenge at Lord’s.

With eight players from their successful 2016 WT20 campaign, West Indies appear a formidable team while the World XI features a squad of match winners.

Proceeds from the match will go towards redeveloping five stadia in the Caribbean which were damaged by Hurricanes Irma and Maria last year.

Stabroek Sports takes a look at the key players who will help to make today’s event a memorable one.

Carlos Brathwaite – strapline

“Remember the name!” the words of Ian Bishop as Carlos Braithwaite struck Ben Stokes for four consecutive sixes to seal the WT20 title in 2016 against an Eoin Morgan-led England in Kolkata, India.

Braithwaite was then assigned to the post of captain after only eight matches, replacing Daren Sammy, who had led the Maroon boys to the two titles and has been labeled as the “demolisher.”

To date, Braithwaite has played only 25 matches, leading in 17.

Morgan, initially named skipper, has been ruled out of today’s high profile clash and the team will be led by Shahid Afridi with Sam Billings as Morgan’s replacement.

Both Brathwaite  and Afridi have what it takes to play match winning innings for their respective sides.

Big Hitters — strapline

Known as the `Universe Boss,’ Christopher Gayle has always been the talk in the opposition’s dressing room, holding records unimaginable in the format. Gayle has scored 11,436 in T20s, over 2000 more than his nearest competition. His highest score in T20 competition is 175 not out and he also  has the most runs in a calendar year, most centuries (21), fastest century (30 balls), most 50 plus scores (91) and the list goes one for the mighty Jamaican.

Pakistan legend “Boom Boom” Afridi has also been a deadly force for his national side for 18 years. Striking at 156 Afridi is known for his big hitting abilities. He has already scored a century and nine fifties and coming in lower down in the order can hurt any bowling attack. The 38-year- old is also a nifty leg break bowler with over 300 wickets, making him one of three players to complete the double of 300 wickets and 3000 runs.

But both players are unpredictable on a given day. Both can come in and play an innings to take your breath away or break your heart with an unusually bad day at the crease.

The Andre Russell factor

Striking at 165 and bowling at over 140kph, Andre Russell is one of the best allrounders in the business currently. Russell has taken the game away from opponents with both bat and ball, most recently doing so for his IPL Franchise, KKR where he scored over 300 runs at a rate of 184 and took 13 scalps.  With Shakib Al Hasan and Hardik Pandya both pulling out of the match, the World XI looks to be missing that bridge between bat and ball.

Anchors

Two-time man of the match in the WT20 finals, Marlon Samuels and  the ever dependent Shoaib Malik will look to play the anchor role in the two sides.

Having both shown they’ve got the skills and patience to bat for the duration of the 20 overs something often forgotten in this  shortest format of the game.

Both have a similar styles of batting and are handy with their off break bowling but it is their ability to provide solid partnerships in the middle and steer their respective teams through rough patches that make their wickets valuable.

Young Bloods

West Indies’ Keemo Paul has made an immediate impact in the international arena after being part of the Under-19 World Cup winning side. The 20-year-old with just three T20Is to his name has been earmarked as a good prospect from the likes of many legends of the game.

Nepal’s 17-year-old spinning sensation Sandeep Lamichhane is one to watch, having made his T20 debut in the latest IPL, playing for the Delhi Daredevils where he bagged five wickets and is expected to turn out for St. Kitts and Nevis Patriots.

Wicketkeepers

Dinesh Ramdin has easily been one of the better wicketkeepers for the West Indies in the format while Dinesh Karthik has been exceptional in domestic competitions around the world.

Karthik has found form with the bat, averaging 49 for his Indian Premier League (IPL) side, Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) which he captained while Ramdin averaged 42 for Trinbago Knight Riders in the 2017 Caribbean Premier League (CPL).

Spinners

The battle of the leggies! Samuel Badree, former number one bowler in the format and Rashid Khan, current top ranked bowler both lead their sides in the spin department and have revolutionized the role of spinners in the format.

Badree, 37, has managed 54 wickets in 48 outings with an economy just over six earning him the fifth best economy rate while Khan, 19 years Badree’s junior, continues to break records, bagging 47 wickets in 29 innings with an astonishing economy of 5.86 second only to Daniel Vettori.

Khan continues to stun batsmen with a strike rate of 14 compared to Badree’s 20.

Khan has been one of the most sought after bowler across the world for his decisive deliveries while a lot might argue that Badree is towards the twilight of his career but still capable of bamboozling the best in the business.

The World XI has included the likes of Adil Rashid who is going to be a threat in conditions that he is familiar with, having played most of his cricket in England. Rashid’s inclusion makes the World XI spin heavy with the likes of Khan and Afridi and Lamichhane.

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