Windies must turn back Pakistan

West Indies is finding the sort of form that won them the World Twenty20 title two years ago, but they gave their long-suffering fans an uneasy start initially.

As the defending champs with superstar Chris Gayle in fine form, West Indies surprisingly lost heavily by seven wickets to India in their first match in Bangladesh. But they regrouped and beat the host nation by 73 runs before a bad tempered game against Australia in Dhaka on Friday.  

The Aussies were tournament favorites but are now out, partly because they lost to West Indies by six wickets in a pulsating Group Two game.  

Captain Darren Sammy hit consecutive sixes in the last over with two balls to spare Sammy crashed James Faulkner over the ropes to finish unbeaten on 34 off 13 balls. 

It was poetic justice because Faulkner had upset the Caribbean side before the game by announcing he did not “particularly like” them.  

West Indies head coach Ottis Gibson has backed his team to conquer Pakistan in Tuesday’s match in Sher-e-Bangla.  

Both teams are on four points from three matches – two wins and one defeat – and the winners will qualify for the semi-finals. 

Gibson said the key is to stay calm and make clear decisions in this crucial encounter.  

The former West Indies all-rounder joined the team as head coach four years ago. He was at the helm when they won the ICC World T20 in Sri Lanka 18 months ago and their improving form raises expectations of retaining it. 

Meanwhile, sweeping changes are coming with the way the West Indies Cricket Board operates, thanks to 19 recommendations put forward by Director of Cricket Richard Pybus. 

Perhaps the biggest change deals with the selection panel, where a trio of new members has been appointed: Windies Coach Ottis Gibson and captains Darren Sammy and Dwayne Bravo.  

Gibson’s responsibilities include voting rights, but Sammy and Bravo will be non-voting members. They join a panel that includes chairman Clyde Butts, Robert Haynes and Courtney Browne. 

Another change deals with restructuring first-class cricket in the region. Plans call for organizing a year-round cricket league with regional teams playing a minimum of 10 matches per season. 

Annual contracts will be given to 15 players from each territorial board, each team would be led by a professional coaching staff, and all matches played at international grounds. 

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Darren Sammy was immensely relieved over beating Australia. – PHOTO: AP
AP