After losing two on the bounce, West Indies made a fantastic comeback in the fourth T20I and levelled the ongoing five-match T20I series 2-2 against South Africa.
Heading into the much-anticipated fifth and final T20I in Grenada on Saturday (July 3), a lot of focus is on the playing XI which skipper Kieron Pollard and company are likely to go in with.
Would they retain the winning combination or look to plug holes and continue trying out options ahead of the T20 World Cup are the major questions? Here’s enlisting their probable XI for the series decider at St George’s Park.
Probable West Indies Playing XI for fifth T20I against South Africa
1. Evin Lewis
After starting off the series on a bright note with a score of 71, Lewis’ returns have nosedived a bit. However, the explosive left-hand batsman is still the second-highest run-maker for the series – 126 runs at a strike-rate of 163.63 – and is likely to be retained in the playing XI for the decider.
2. Lendl Simmons
Not one of the first-choice openers at the beginning, Lendl Simmons showed the value he brings to the table in the last match. The right-hand batsman made a crucial 47 off 34 balls and kept West Indies afloat even as their middle-order stuttered along. His contribution in the win was huge and in reward, Simmons looks to set to retain his spot in the West Indies Playing XI.
3. Chris Gayle
Making his comeback in West Indies jersey, the mighty Chris Gayle hasn’t been at his best in the series. But hardly anyone can doubt his ability after maintaining his dominance for so long in the shortest form of the game. Gayle will be determined to stamp his authority on the series and tilt it once and for all in West Indies’ favour.
4. Shimron Hetmyer
Scores of 17 & 7 since coming back into the XI don’t help the questions marks that Hetmyer has been facing on his form and fitness. But the left-hander is undoubtedly very talented and capable of playing a substantial knock that would not only help West Indies clinch the series win but also silence his critics. Thus, despite an indifferent patch, Pollard & co are likely to back Hetmyer.
5. Nicholas Pooran
Pooran is another young talented West Indies batsman whose performances in the series haven’t given a befitting account of his overall ability. Pooran has managed just 51 runs from his four innings combine. But the left-hander remains vital to West Indies’ cause and will be looking to make a statement in the decider.
6. Kieron Pollard
Walking into a difficult situation, captain Pollard led his team from the front last match, scoring a fantastic half-century to take West Indies past the 160-mark. He then chipped in with a tight four-over spell (1/24) to ensure his troops levelled the series. His strong leadership and all-round capabilities stood out in the fourth T20I, which he’ll look to replicate in the final showdown.
7. Andre Russell
Russell hasn’t gone past the score of 25 in the series yet, but his dangerous power-hitting abilities will keep South Africa wary. Russell can switch on the beast mode with the bat at any time and can simply pulverise the opposition attack. The 33-year-old is indispensable to West Indies’ cause.
8. Fabian Allen
All-rounder Fabian Allen continues to impress one and all with his disciplined left-arm spin bowling and encouraging batting prowess lower down the order. Allen has taken 2 wickets from 3 innings of bowling in the series at an economy rate of 7.60 and has batted at a strike-rate of 197.06 for his 67 runs. He has become a critical part of this West Indies Playing XI.
9. Dwayne Bravo
Bravo’s batting ability may have been on the wane but his bowling is still vital for West Indies. The experienced cricketer delivered a stand-out spell of 4/19 in his team’s victory in the last match to take his series tally to 9 wickets – highest from either series – at an economy rate of just 6.86. On a wearing track in Grenada, Bravo’s pace variations and slow off-cutters have proven very effective.
10. Obed McCoy
Left-arm seamer McCoy is only second to Bravo in the wickets chart for the series with 8 scalps in four innings at an economy rate of just 6.86 runs per over. McCoy has mixed up his slower balls to good effect against South African batsmen, who have unsuccessfully looked to line him up for boundaries.
11. Fidel Edwards
Replacing Kevin Sinclair, experienced pacer Fidel Edwards made his comeback to West Indies colours in the last match. And though his two overs proved expensive, Edwards’ reinclusion does boost the West Indies bowling attack, with his slingy action and indifferent release points likely to make life difficult for batters.