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West Indies are Mr Cricket UAE Anis Sajan's tip for the World Cup Image Credit: AFP

The qualifying rounds for the ICC T20 World Cup have already begun, and four hopefuls in qualifying in Oman will soon be joining the eight heavyweights who have already qualified for the Super 12s.

The West Indies are, in my opinion, the team to beat.

Not only are they the defending champions — after Carlos Brathwaite’s famous last over against England’s Ben Stokes last time around — they are the only team who have won the T20 World Cup twice and know how to win. The Windies have also won both titles under Darren Sammy’s captaincy.

The West Indies won their first title in 2014 when they defeated hosts Sri Lanka in the finals in Colombo, and in 2016 they went on to beat England when Braithwaite hit four consecutive sixes of Stokes in the last over to stun the favourites (who thought the match was won) to claim their second title. Before overcoming England in dramatic fashion in the final in 2016, they defeated favourites and hosts India at the Wankhede Stadium, when Lendl Simmons scored 82 off 51 balls and Andre Russell scored 43 off 20.

Anis Sajan with Darren Sammy
Anis Sajan with Darren Sammy Image Credit: Supplied

I witnessed that semi-final and I presumed India would rollover the West Indies. But they had other ideas and they went about chasing 192 after losing Chris Gayle and Marlon Samuels early, stunning 1.3 billion people watching and rooting for the team in blue.

One of the reasons the West Indies do so well in the shorter format is that they play a fearless brand of cricket and are not worried about the result. They go about their task with nothing to lose and beat teams who look solid in paper compared to them.

They come in to this year’s tournament as one of the favourites along with India and England — they have experienced players such as captain Kieron Pollard, “Universe Boss’ Chris Gayle, Dwayne Bravo, Nicholas Pooran, Evin Lewis, Andre Russell, Lendl Simmons and Shimron Hetmyer. All these guys have strikes rates in the range of 140 and they can still take the game away from any opposition on their day.

Their bowling is bolstered with veteran Ravi Rampaul — who is a specialist death-overs bowler — speedster Oshane Thomas — who clocks 150kph — and leg-spinner Hayden Walsh — who is known for his crafty leg-breaks.

This West Indies team is in Group 1 — the so-called ‘Group of Death’ alongside Australia, England and South Africa — and they will be joined by qualifiers from Oman. If they get to the semi-finals, I think the Winides will be hard to stop, and the other group (as it stands: India, New Zealand, Pakistan, Afghanistan) will be wary how dangerous Caribbean champions are on their day.