A thrilling World Twenty20 will come to a crescendo when England take on West Indies in the final at Kolkata’s Eden Gardens on Sunday. Here we look at five key issues that could affect the outcome.
1. What is the right amount of attention on Gayle?
After the king of T20 blew England away with a rapid-fire century a fortnight ago, it would be understandable if he loomed large over their team meetings and planning sessions. But it must also be noted that he has scored just nine runs in two innings since that match and struggled with injury. The likes of Johnson Charles, Lendl Simmons, Andre Russell and Darren Sammy can all play devastating innings and England cannot allow any of them to slip under the radar.
2. The Windies’ winning streak
England have had something of a blind spot against West Indies over the years. Across 13 meetings between the two in the shortest format the Caribbean side have won nine times and, even more critically, they are four from four in the World Twenty20. Sammy pointedly referenced that streak ahead of the Super 10 match between the teams and saw his side deliver another victory.
3. Can England keep their cool?
A global final is a real test of any sportsman’s steel. West Indies are likely to field eight of the team who won the tournament in 2012, so know exactly where they stand in the heat of the moment. But captain Eoin Morgan is the only survivor from England’s 2010 champions and some of their key men – David Willey, Ben Stokes and Jason Roy – had never even played in a major tournament until this month. It will be down to coaches Trevor Bayliss and Paul Farbrace to take the heat out of the moment and keep their side focused on the game at hand.
4. Pitch report
The nature of the pitches in the competition have varied wildly from venue to venue, from the raging turner in Nagpur to the bowler’s graveyard in Mumbai. Despite being an ICC event, the suspicion existed that a slow turner would materialise at Eden Gardens, to India’s benefit. With the hosts now a non-factor, what will fans see? Will it be a run-fest to sate the television audience or is a spinning track already too far down the line? If it favours the slow bowlers then Adil Rashid and Moeen Ali will go head to head with Sulieman Benn and Samuel Badree to see who can make best use.
5. Who will the fans support?
Had India reached the showpiece, the atmosphere created by 66,000 screaming fans would have been deafening – leaving England as major underdogs in a hostile environment. There is a slim chance that the locals will now align with them after watching the Windies oust their heroes but don’t count on it. The Calypso boys are infectious, joyous personalities and several of their key men, not least Gayle, enjoy strong IPL affiliations that England do not.