Buoyed by their performance against England at home, a rejuvenated West Indies side will go into this summer’s World Cup as a balanced unit. All-rounder Carlos Brathwaite feels that while they are not favourites to lift the cup, they are no pushovers either…writes Debayan Mukherjee
“I think the chances are good but I don’t think we will be favourites. And I don’t think we will be underdogs,” Brathwaite told IANS in an interview on the sidelines of a Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) event.
The hard-hitting all-rounder was roped in by the two-time champions for Rs 5 crore ahead of this season.
“We know what we can do, especially after the series we just had against England. So, it’s a balanced expectation in my opinion.
“The brand of cricket we played in the Caribbean, if we can replicate that in England, we will go somewhere close to challenging for the title. We have been traditionally a good tournament team. So, hopefully we can win the third World Cup,” said the Windies’ regular T20 skipper.
West Indies, led by Jason Holder, gave a good account of themselves in the recently concluded five-match ODI series in their backyard, with the series ending 2-2 as the third rubber was washed out.
The World Cup in England and Wales starts on May 30 with the Windies’ taking on Pakistan on May 31.
Brathwaite, who made a comeback to the ODI team for the England series, scored a counter-attacking 36-ball 50 in the fourth ODI remembered for Chris Gayle’s 97-ball 162 in Windies’ chase of 419. They lost the match by 29 runs. With the ball, he took five wickets in four games.
Best known for hitting four successive sixes to finish off England in the last over of the 2016 World T20 final at the Eden Gardens, Brathwaite said it’s a happy hunting ground for him and he is happy to be back.
“It’s kind of a happy hunting ground. I have had a few good games here. In the same World Cup, I had a good warm-up game with bat and ball. I had a decent game with the ball against India as well, though we didn’t cross the line.”
KKR will bank on Brathwaite to deliver the goods with bat and ball. Asked about his goal, the Barbados-born said: “I am not a stats person. If I get wickets and score some runs, take that one or two wickets that will take the team over the line..that’s more important.
“If I can help in significant wins and hopefully help the team win the trophy as well, then that would be a successful season for me, regardless of what the numbers say.”
The 30-year-old has blown hot and cold since the historic feat, only recently making a comeback since playing for the West Indies in an ODI back at the ICC World Cup Qualifiers in 2018.
“I may not be hitting four and sixes, but I am happy to be the one who comes in and takes crucial wickets or scores an important 20 or 25,” Brathwaite said when asked about his return and form.
“Not necessarily score a fifty or take a hat-trick to feel that I have contributed. So, that mindset has helped in the last couple of years.”
Brathwaite will join compatriots Andre Russell and Sunil Narine at KKR. “He is probably the best all-rounder in the world in this format. I will continue to learn from him,” he said of Russell.
Under the tutelage of head coach and iconic South African all-rounder Jacques Kallis, Brathwaite added that he would look to come out of the tournament a better cricketer.
“I have spoken to him about my batting — as to how I can be a more consistent finisher — that I want to be. It has been light-hearted mostly to be honest. He is very relaxed.
“I am really looking forward to learn more from one of the legends of the game (Kallis) and strong personality as assistant coach (Simon) Katich. Hopefully after this IPL, I will be a better cricketer.”