After a bruising Ashes, England’s T20 squad will be looking to banish the gloom surrounding the camp when they begin a five-match series against the West Indies.

We look ahead to the first T20 match of the series on Saturday below.

Bowling attack adds edge to strong England side

Unlike the Test squad, England’s T20 cricketers have shown plenty of good form recently. Of their three series they played in 2021, England won two, losing only to India in a closely fought series that ended 3-2. In last year’s T20 World Cup in Oman and Dubai, England looked in devastating form in their group, winning four out of five matches to top the table. Their run came to an end in the semi-finals, though, where they met a strong New Zealand side.

One feature of that campaign was the strength of England’s bowling attack, which was highlighted by the way they ripped through the West Indies top order to bowl them out for just 55 runs. Adil Rashid took four wickets that day, with Moeen Ali and Tymal Mills taking two each. The leg-spin of Rashid, off-spin of Ali as well as the pace of Mills and Chris Jordan makes for a formidable line-up for any opposing batsman. Young fast bowler Saqib Mahmood has been a hit for Sydney Thunder in the Big Bash League this season, taking 13 wickets in six matches, and his early recall for this series gives captain Eoin Morgan further options.

England also look to have a strong batting line-up, with Jason Roy and Jos Buttler forming a strong partnership at the top of the order. The pair scored over 90 runs between them in three of their five World Cup group games. While Dawid Malan and Jonny Bairstow are not in the squad to face the West Indies and will be missed, England still look to have plenty of experience to call upon with the bat, in the form of Morgan, Ali and Liam Livingstone. Sam Billings and the promising George Garton are others that are capable of heavy scoring. England are 8/11 to have the top scoring batsman in their first match.

West Indies may struggle with the bat

The West Indies T20 squad have endured a tough past year. While there were certain high points, including series wins over Sri Lanka and current World Cup champions Australia, they suffered defeats to South Africa and Pakistan. Last month they were on the end of another defeat to Pakistan, this time a 3-0 whitewash, and most recently they fell to Ireland, a team ranked 13th in the world.

After triumph in the 2016 T20 World Cup, the Windies failed to put up a good defence of their title as they slumped to four defeats from five and failed to make it out of their group in Oman and Dubai last November.

Part of the reason for their World Cup struggles might lie with a reliance on 42-year-old veteran Chris Gayle at the top of the order. So often devastating with the bat, Gayle managed a top score of just 15 in five innings at the World Cup, while the Windies only once scored over 150 runs. There was also a reliance on 38-year-old Dwayne Bravo with the ball.

Both those players have been left out of the squad to face England. Fabian Allen and Darren Bravo are recalled to the squad, however, neither are batsmen the England bowlers will fear. Consequently, the West Indies may have to rely on captain Kieron Pollard with the bat and they will do well to score enough runs against an England side that looks to have far more strength in depth.

England are strong 4/6 favourites to begin the series with a win at the Kensington Oval in Barbados, while a victory for the home side is priced at 6/5.

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