“It is always difficult to pick a West Indies starting XI” – Rovman Powell on his T20 World Cup Playing XI

West Indies captain Rovman Powell said choosing a starting XI for the first match of the ICC T20 World Cup will be a challenging task, as many players have put up their hand to earn selection.

West Indies will open their Group C campaign against Papua New Guinea on June 2 at 10.30 am in Providence, Guyana. West Indies will also play Uganda, New Zealand and Afghanistan in the group. The regional team showed promise in a T20 series against South Africa which ended on May 26, sweeping the series 3-0.

Roston Chase, not known for his ball-striking ability, cracked 67 not out off 38 balls in the second match of the series.

Opener Johnson Charles also gave Windies coach Daren Sammy and Powell something to smile about with 69 off 26 deliveries in the third match. Left-arm spinner Gudakesh Motie was a consistent wicket-taker.

Nicholas Pooran may have a key role to play for West Indies as he showed his quality in the Indian Premier League. In the tournament which ended on May 26, Pooran scored 499 runs at an average of 62.37, playing for the Lucknow Super Giants.

West Indies held a training session at the Sir Frank Worrell Memorial Ground at the University of the West Indies, St Augustine Campus on May 29.

“It is always difficult to pick a West Indies starting XI especially when you have guys playing well,” Powell said. “It is good that’s a headache we have going into this World Cup, not a headache we have had in the past as a West Indies team. It shows that the guys are playing well and it shows that there is competition for spots.”

Past West Indies World Cup-winning teams in 2012 and 2016 had potent spinners with the likes of Sunil Narine and Samuel Badree. Powell, who said it would have been great to have Narine on the team, believes in the spinners on the team now.

“We have three quality spinners. We have Akeal Hosein, Gudakesh Motie and Roston Chase, and I think with three good spinners like that it gives you variety.”

Chase will be an asset bowling to left-handers, said Powell and the left-arm spinners can bowl to the right-handed batsmen. “We are spoilt for choices.”

Powell, who did not play in the series against South Africa, was elated with the performance of his players. Powell, who was at the IPL playing for Rajasthan Royals, said, “The guys played together. It is always good to have individual performances, but when you put those individual performances collectively (it is great). If you look at the South Africa series, coming out of it a lot of guys did well. A lot of batters scored runs and a lot of bowlers…got proper spells.”

Powell said his players would have gained confidence from the 3-0 sweep. “It is also important that it is a series where we dominated. We just did not win 2-1, we won it 3-0. That spread confidence throughout the entire group.”

The Windies skipper said there are no walkovers in the tournament and expects all teams to be strong.

“When you look at all 20 teams in the World Cup, all 20 teams are good teams. Some teams are stronger than others on paper and (because of) history, but having said I think we have a group that will give us a challenge. It is T20 cricket and on a day that is when it is played regardless of how strong your squad is. I think we have enough good players to fight off any battles that these teams give us.”

Fast bowler Obed McCoy, who was named as a replacement for the injured Jason Holder on May 26, was going through his paces on Wednesday at UWI. Powell said Holder will be missed, but McCoy is a worthy replacement.

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