There was a time when West Indies were the most dreaded opponent in world cricket. That period is like a distant memory now, with only history standing testimony to their ruthlessness. In the new millennium, West Indies cricket has been infected with pests like player-board clashes, contract issues, and the general lack of development in the county as far as cricket is concerned. They are actually heading to the World Cup under the shadow of the India tour, which was cut short due to contract issues. That tour has cost Dwayne Bravo and Kieron Pollard their places in the World Cup squad, although chief selector Clive Lloyd has said otherwise.
In the absence of Bravo and Pollard, both of whom are match-winners on their day, West Indies would go in as one of the weakest teams among the Test-playing nations. They have been dealt an even bigger blow, with Sunil Narine pulling out, citing unresolved issues with his bowling action. They have a captain, Jason Holder, who himself is relatively new, and is yet to establish himself in the team. Under the circumstances, West Indies aren't expected to progress far in the event. In fact, if you look at their performance over the years, they haven't made the semis since 1996. Apart from Pakistan, South Africa and India, West Indies will need to be wary of Ireland in their group.
Chris Gayle: Not surprisingly, West Indies' fortunes in the event will depend heavily on their dangerous opener. Unlike in the World T20, he hasn't set the World Cup for fire. But, in the absence of Bravo and Pollard, the left-hander has no option but to stand up and deliver. West Indies cannot expect to do well if Gayle fails with the bat.
Marlon Samuels: Samuels has been in and out of the side over the last decade, but on the disastrous tour of India, he stood out with two fantastic centuries. There is no doubt that Samuels can perform against the best of bowlers, but he hasn't always lived up to that reputation. For the 2015 World Cup, he has been given the charge of vice captain. Windies would hope it inspires him to better things.
Andre Russell: A high-quality all-rounder, who has slowly but surely established himself as a key member of the West Indies outfit, Russell is a complete package in the shorter formats. He can play the quick cameos towards the end of an innings, is sharp with the ball, and electric in the field. An invaluable asset for sure.
Jason Holder: The tall West Indian would be key since, not only would he be leading the side, but will also be expected to lead the bowling attack. Holder has impressed with the pace in the few matches that he has played, but the World Cup would be a massive test for him as bowler and captain.
Squad: Jason Holder (capt), Marlon Samuels (v-c), Sulieman Benn, Darren Bravo, Jonathan Carter, Sheldon Cottrell, Chris Gayle, Nikita Miller, Denesh Ramdin (wk), Kemar Roach, Andre Russell, Darren Sammy, Lendl Simmons, Dwayne Smith, Jerome Taylor
February 16 - v Ireland, Nelson
February 21 - v Pakistan, Christchurch
February 24 - v Zimbabwe, Canberra
February 27 - v South Africa, Sydney
March 6 - v India, Perth
March 15 - v UAE, Napier