Kolkata: Buoyed by their recent performance against England at home, a rejuvenated West Indies will go into this summer’s World Cup as a balanced nit who are not favourites, but at the same time no pushovers either, feels Caribbean all-rounder Carlos Brathwaite.
“I think our chances are good, but I don’t think we will be the favourites. And I don’t think we will be the underdogs either,” Brathwaite said.
The hard-hitting all-rounder was roped in by two-time Indian Premier League (IPL) champions Kolkata Knight Riders ahead of the 12th season starting on Saturday.
“We know what we can do in the back of our minds, especially after the series we just had against England. So it’s a balanced expectation in my opinion.
“If we can replicate the brand of cricket we played in the Caribbean in the World Cup in England, we will go somewhere close to challenging for the title. We have traditionally been a good tournament team, so hopefully we can win the third World Cup,” said the West Indies T20 skipper.
The West Indies, led by Jason Holder, gave a good account of themselves in the recently concluded five-match ODI series against England at home, as the series ended 2-2 after the third match was washed out.
The World Cup in England and Wales starts on May 30 and the West Indies will kick off their campaign against 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 that is remembered for Chris Gayle’s 97-ball 162 as the Windies fell 29 runs short chasing a mammoth 419. With the ball, he picked up five wickets from four games.
Best known for hitting four successive sixes to sink England in the last over of the 2016 World T20 final at the Eden Gardens here, 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 for me. I have had a few good games here. In the same World T20, I had a good warm-up game here. I also had a decent game with the ball against India though we didn’t cross the finishing line,” he said.
KKR will bank on Brathwaite to deliver the goods with both bat and ball. Asked about his goal, the Barbados-born all-rounder said: “I am not a stats person. Even if I take one or two wickets that helps the team cross the line, that’s more important for me.”
The 30-year-old has blown hot and cold ever since his heroics in the 2016 World T20 final. “I may not hit four straight sixes again, but I would be happy to come in and take crucial wickets or score an important 20 or 25,” Brathwaite said when asked about his return to form.
“For me, it’s not necessary to score a fifty or take a hat-trick to feel that I have contributed. This mindset has helped me in the last couple of years,” he said.
Brathwaite will join compatriots Andre Russell and Sunil Narine at KKR. “He (Russell) is probably the best T20 all-rounder in the world and I will continue to learn from him,” he said.
Brathwaite also said that he would look to come out of the tournament as a better cricketer under the tutelage of KKR head coach and legendary South Africa all-rounder Jacques Kallis.
“I have spoken to him (Kallis) about my batting and how I can become a more consistent finisher, something which I want to be. The discussions have been mostly light-hearted, to be honest. He is very relaxed and I am really looking forward to learn more from one of the legends of the game. Hopefully, I will be a better cricketer after the IPL,” Brathwaite said.
Meanwhile, the West Indies and Bangladesh will travel to Ireland for a One Day International tri-series, which will begin from May 5, International Cricket Council (ICC) announced on Friday.
Ireland will face West Indies in the opening game and the tri-series will involve a double round-robin phase followed by the final.
The matches will be hosted between the three venues of Castle Avenue, Clontarf and The Village, Malahide, in Dublin.