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In Focus: England's next World Cup opponents West Indies

:Headline: In Focus: England's next World Cup opponents West Indies:
The Windies have caught the eye in the tournament so far.
PA | 13d

England continue their World Cup campaign against the West Indies at the Hampshire Bowl on Friday.

Despite mixed results, the Windies have caught the eye in the tournament so far and the contest is an appetising one.

Here, Press Association Sport takes a look at England's opponents.

Pace providing the thrills

The speed generated by the West Indies pace attack has rekindled memories of the team's 1980s heyday. Oshane Thomas, Sheldon Cottrell and Andre Russell have looked formidable, with captain Jason Holder and Carlos Brathwaite ensuring there is little respite. Russell missed the last game but was replaced by another experienced quick in Kemar Roach. Their persistent and rapid short-pitched bowling caught Pakistan cold in the opener and had Australia wobbling in their second game.

Tournament so far

Pakistan struggled to cope with the West Indies' aggressive attack (Tim Goode/PA)

The West Indies skittled Pakistan for just 105 to begin their campaign with a comprehensive seven-wicket win. They were also on top against Australia – reducing them to 79 for five – before eventually being beaten by 15 runs in a thrilling second game. Their third match against South Africa was abandoned after just 7.3 overs due to rain, but already the Proteas were creaking on 29 for two.

Big-hitters still to fire

Chris Gayle remains a devastating performer (Tim Goode/PA)

If the West Indies can get all aspects of their game firing, they will be serious contenders in this competition. Their attack has shown its potential, but the batting is largely still to fire. Admittedly they had no opportunity against South Africa and the Pakistan run chase was a formality but they under-performed against Australia. The evergreen Chris Gayle and Russell have the ability to take any attack apart in double quick time and their wickets will be particularly valued while Nicholas Pooran and Shimron Hetmyer are exciting talents and Holder is dangerous.

Fitness concern

Russell must carefully manage a knee problem (Simon Cooper/PA)

The return of Russell, one of the world's most talented all-rounders, after a ban, disputes, injury and focus on T20 franchise cricket has given the West Indies a big lift. The 31-year-old is a big-hitter, a genuine fast bowler and athletic in the field. The worry is his fitness and management of a long-term knee condition. He was not risked against South Africa and he needs to be carefully monitored.

Changing perceptions

Holder is an impressive captain (Andrew Boyers/Pool)

The West Indies came into the tournament, for which they had to qualify, ranked eighth in the world and with form inconsistent. On the face of that, there was little to suggest the team could threaten after years beset by political turmoil and player disputes. Yet under the inspirational leadership of Holder, significant strides have been made and an overhaul of coaching and selection policies has changed the atmosphere off the field. Early outings have been eye-opening and shown this team has potential.



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