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England's dominance faces steep test against hostile West Indies quicks
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England's dominance faces steep test against hostile West Indies quicks

World Cup hosts England will be expecting a stiff contest from the West Indies at the Hampshire Bowl on Friday, as the Caribbean pace quartet has been consistently wreaking havoc throughout the tournament.

England will be riding high on confidence after a clinical performance against a resurgent Bangladesh which saw them cruise to victory by 106 runs, days after being bruised by a narrow 14-run loss to Pakistan.

Although England would have been tempted to pack their playing XI with an extra pacer to tame the explosive power hitters stacked in the West Indies' batting lineup, Mark Wood's ankle injury paves the way for Moeen Ali to make a reappearance in the playing XI after sitting out the previous game.

England's limited overs transformation post-2015 World Cup debacle has been built around a fearless approach adopted by their batters which sees them often choosing the aerial route and putting pressure on the opposition.

However, England's attacking opening pair of Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow will be wary of the pace generated up front by the West Indies bowlers.

Sheldon Cottrell, Oshane Thomas and Andre Russell have set the tournament ablaze with their aggressive strategy of liberally employing short-pitched deliveries.

They were destructive in the side's seven wicket hammering against Pakistan and rattled Aussie top-order before a late fightback from the lower order saw their earlier efforts being rendered unproductive in the grand scheme of things. The pacers were impressive once again in the 7.3 overs of play possible against South Africa, picking up two early wickets.

'Jofra Archer's battle with familiar opponent'

The Barbados-born Jofra Archer will be pit against his own former countrymen as the youngster will be relishing the opportunity to compete against some of the stars of the modern era such as Chris Gayle and Russell.

He will be greeted by some familiar faces in Jason Holder, Shai Hope among others with whom he had begun his cricketing journey.

Meanwhile, England captain Eoin Morgan, who himself switched loyalties from Ireland to England, has backed his paceman to overcome the challenge and come out on top.

"When you play against guys that you've played with at age-group level, it feels like a club game against your mates you've known for a long time, compared to playing against strangers. That's the different feel."

"I'm sure he will handle it like he's handled everything else in the tournament so far," he confidently stated.

'Cottrell's salute adds drama'

Ahead of the clash between the heavyweights, England coach Trevor Bayliss fuelled unnecessary drama by directing a comment on Sheldon Cottrell's usual celebratory style of performing an animated salute each time he dismisses a batsman.

Bayliss reckoned he was too old and cynical to enjoy Cottrell's antics and expressed his annoyance - an opinion that is sure to attract some overzealous salutes from the West Indies during the match.

With five wickets under his belt in this tournament, Cottrell would perhaps be an extra bit motivated to deliver an intimidating spell of fast bowling after Bayliss' remarks.

Squads

England: 

Eoin Morgan (c), Moeen Ali, Jofra Archer, Jonny Bairstow, Jos Buttler (wk), Tom Curran, Liam Dawson, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, James Vince, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood.

West Indies: 

Jason Holder (c), Fabian Allen, Darren Bravo, Shannon Gabriel, Shimron Hetmyer, Evin Lewis, Nicholas Pooran, Andre Russell, Carlos Brathwaite, Sheldon Cottrell, Chris Gayle, Shai Hope, Ashley Nurse, Kemar Roach, Oshane Thomas.