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Born-again England, Windies set for final slugfest

Sun, 03 Apr 2016

Kolkata: England and West Indies will battle to become the first two-time winners of cricket's World Twenty20 when they face each other in the tournament's final Sunday, in a game that promises to be a six-hitting slugfest.

Eoin Morgan's England will hope to complete a remarkable resurgence after exiting the 50-over World Cup a year ago in disgrace after losing to minnows Bangladesh and failing to progress from their group.

The West Indies are also a born-again side inspired by the laid-back, huge-hitting Chris Gayle, and featuring a phalanx of stars such as Andre Russell, Dwayne Bravo and Lendl Simmons who have all had success plying their trade in money-spinning T20 leagues around the globe.

Having been embroiled in a players' pay dispute at Test level, the West Indies have faced a barrage of criticism about their poor performances in the five-day game. But skipper Darren Sammy hit back on the eve of Sunday's final at Eden Gardens.

"People just paint us as money-grabbing cricketers for our success in T20 cricket, but yet they still don't respect us in that (Test) format," Sammy said.

Gayle, already the only man to have scored two hundreds in World Twenty20 history, will look to crack another landmark as the first batsman to record a century of sixes in T20 internationals, having already smashed a record 98.

Gayle has 11 of those in the current tournament. Ominously for England they all came in his 100 not out as the West Indies chased down 183 to beat Morgan's men in the group stage.

"We know we are a boundary-hitting team," added Sammy. "So it's about keeping our faith."

England are adept at clearing the rope themselves and their tally of 34 sixes is the most by any team in the tournament, underlining their remarkable 12-month transformation under Irish-born Morgan.

Opening batsman Jason Roy, one of the stars of the new-look England, promised they would come at their opponents "with all guns blazing".

"It's going to be an incredible experience but we are going to play our natural way and the brand of cricket we have been playing for the last year," said Roy, who pummelled 78 off 44 balls as England beat New Zealand in the semi-final.

England won the 2010 World Twenty20 and the West Indies took the honours in 2012.

Both will be looking to become the first team to lift the trophy for a second time, but the atmosphere in Kolkata has been subdued in the lead-up to the final after India, seeking to become the first nation to win the World T20 title on home soil, lost to the West Indies in the semi-final.

The deadly collapse of a partially built flyover in the north-eastern city on Thursday, which killed 26 people, has also cast a pall ahead of the match.

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