The West Indies team led by Jason Holder can be both exhilarating as well as exasperating. On their day they can steamroll anyone but they can self-destruct as well. In their 1st match vs Pakistan, Oshane Thomas in a breathtaking display of fast bowling took 4/27 and was ably complemented with pace and bounce of Russel, Holder and other quick guns as Pakistan collapsed for just 105. Not content, West Indies treated the target as a T20 one and nonchalently knocked off the target in just 13.4 overs.
Next was Australia. West Indies continued in the same spirit, but this time the opponents were of different mettle. Aussies were reduced to 38/4 and 78/5, but recovered to post 288. West Indies who bat deep, were in the game for long but fell 15 short, Starc shining with a fiver. West Indian brilliance had been overcome by typical Aussie guts and gumption.
If we see their history at the world cup, they reached the finals of the 1st 3, winning 2 and losing in 1983 to Kapil Dev’s devils. Since then, they have not been doing well. They had a good chance in the 1996 semifinals versus Australia, when chasing 208; they were at a confident and winning position of 165/2, but they somehow imploded to lose by 5 runs. Since then, they have never been able to reach the semi-finals.
“Universe Boss” Chris Gayle and skipper Holder will be seeking to set the records straight and take West Indies into the semi-finals, since thereafter at the knockout stage they would feel anything is possible. Gayle himself says that bowlers across the world are scared of him as “they know what the Universe boss is capable of and in the back of their minds, they think, hey this is the most dangerous batsman we have seen in cricket”.
West Indies, on their day, can defeat anyone or lose to anyone as well. Gayle and Lewis are explosive at the top, and in the format of 9 matches to be played, one against every team, Gayle certainly is capable of winning at least 2 matches on his own. Bravo exudes class while Hetmyer and Hope have not just shown promise, but have won matches with their batting.
The West Indies squad has some amazing batting firepower in late middle order as well. Andre Russell can make any asking rate seem easy while Braithwaite can explode as well. Will Stokes ever forget his last over of the 2016 T 20 World Cup? He needed to defend 19 in the last over and would have backed himself to defend it. England would have felt confident as well. Braithwaite had other ideas. 6, 6, 6, 6 were hit and West Indies won the T20 world cup, the 1st team to win it for a second time. They will be seeking to defend it in 2020 and will be top contenders. Before that they would like to win the ODI World Cup as well after 40 years.
In wicket-keeping, the team has Pooran as well as Hope and therefore there is back up. Pace bowling is a strength with 4 quicks and they have spin back up as well.
If there is any weakness, it is that the batting can self destruct. The bowling too may become uni-dimensional as well. They have to guard against complacency as such there are no easy matches to play and every match has to be taken seriously.
West Indies next play South Africa and England. Both are tough matches . While South Africa have lost 3 in a row, they are certainly a top team and would like to come back with a good performance. England of course are an awesome outfit. By the time these two matches are over, a bit more clarity could emerge as regards to their progress or otherwise.
All said and done, West Indies are a dangerous team and whether they qualify for semi-finals or not, they are not to be taken lightly and can upset any team, especially if Universe boss gets going.
Looking forward to the South Africa-West Indies game tomorrow.
The composition of the West Indies team is as follows;
Batsmen– Chris Gayle, Evin Lewis, Darren Bravo and Shemron Hetmyer
Wicket-keeper/Batsmen– Nicholas Pooran and Shai Hope
All-rounders– Jason Holder (Captain), Andre Russell and Carlos Braithwaite and the fast bowling all-rounders who are big hitters as well. The spin bowling all-rounders are Ashley Nurse and Fabian Allen
Bowlers– The four quicks are Oshane Thomas, Kemar Roach, Shannon Gabriel and Sheldon Cottrell