England have point to prove in Twenty20

The last time England played a Twenty20 match in the Caribbean, it lost by 10 wickets to miss out on a winner-takes-all US$20 million prize.

updated: March 15, 2009 08:36 IST
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The last time England played a Twenty20 match in the Caribbean, it lost by 10 wickets to miss out on a winner-takes-all US$20 million prize and started a barren five months away from home.

England's players can help put a difficult winter behind them by beating a buoyant West Indies team in a one-off Twenty20 match on Sunday after having lost 1-0 in the recent Test series.

England's capitulation for 99 to a West Indies all-stars team in November to lose the most lucrative cricket match in history was followed by Test and one-day series losses in India.

The West Indies will be without one of the biggest hitters in the game. Captain Chris Gayle has been forced out after injuring his hamstring in the final Test last week.

Denesh Ramdin takes over the captaincy. He will lead the side for the first time in front of his Trinidad and Tobago countrymen in front of a sold-out Queen's Park Oval crowd of 19,000.

The West Indies will be boosted by dynamic allrounder Dwayne Bravo, who returns to the side for the first time in nine months. The 25-year-old Bravo has been out since last June after undergoing ankle surgery.

"The team has been playing well so far," he said. "This home series was a crucial one for the guys. It meant a lot to them. There is still a lot to improve and we're all aware of that. We are working hard as a unit to try and improve those areas we fell short on."

England's own talismanic allrounder, Andrew Flintoff, is back in the Caribbean but his injured hip will not be risked on Sunday as the teams also have five one-day matches to follow.

Instead, the big-hitting Dimitri Mascarenhas has been selected, recalled to the side for the first time since last June.

The Hampshire allrounder captained England to the Hong Kong Sixes title in November. The 31-year-old Mascarenhas was also the only English player to appear in the inaugural season of the Indian Premier League's Twenty20 competition last April and May.

"In Twenty20, you need to hit as many boundaries as possible and you can pretty much go at it from ball one," Mascarenhas said. "I'm pretty much a death batsman in a no-lose situation. I suppose there's a little bit of technique involved in hitting sixes, but it's one of those things that some people can do and some can't.

"Personally, that's all I want to do _ hit sixes. If I get caught, so be it. I'm not trying to hit a four, I'm trying to hit the ball over the boundary."

The squads:

West Indies: Denesh Ramdin (captain), Andre Fletcher, Devon Smith, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Lendl Simmons, Dwayne Bravo, Kieron Pollard, Darren Sammy, Sulieman Benn, Fidel Edwards, Lionel Baker, Jerome Taylor.

England: Andrew Strauss (captain), Ian Bell, Ravi Bopara, Owais Shah, Kevin Pietersen, Paul Collingwood, Matt Prior, Dimitri Mascarenhas, Gareth Batty, Stuart Broad, James Anderson, Adil Rashid, Steve Harmison, Steve Davies, Amjad Khan, Andrew Flintoff.