Cricket

Published on April 8th, 2017 | by Suraj Choudhari

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A West Indies victory in Caribbean style

West Indies are undoubtedly one of the most inconsistent sides when it comes to longer formats. Yet, that’s an enchanting paradox; they often upset many with an emphatic win out of the blue. Be it Test, ODI or T20I cricket, West Indies are well capable of creating an upset. Ask India, when West Indies denied them a Test victory in the second Test at Kingston on the final day, despite India being on the brink of an implausible victory.

Roston Chase showed nerves of steel and was well supported by Jermaine Blackwood, Shai Hope and Jason Holder. And now, they have pulled off a thriller in the first One-Day International (ODI) against Pakistan at Providence and given themselves a chance to avenge them for the T20I series loss. But this time, it’s Jason Mohammed Kieran Powell and Ashley Nurse, who stood amid choppy waters. It wouldn’t wrong to say, West Indies have been lacking a strong performance, which can influential the line-up.

A couple of decades back, West Indies would have run through any line-up and win matches at will. But, the same confidence has been lacking with the current crop. It’s not for the lack of talent, they do have impressive talents but have failed to gel together along with few other administrative issues, which has only hampered their progress in the game. In the recent times, their cricketing fortunes have rightly oscillated between mediocrity and occasional spark of brilliance. And they’ve exhibited one such brilliance in the first ODI against Pakistan but the question is – is this that one occasional spark or West Indies will continue with their good form?

They have been a force to reckon with in T20 cricket and winning two World T20 titles is no joke. But again, what happened in two consecutive T20I series against Pakistan, is also a reality. They lost both the series and looked bereft of oomph in a format, which they mastered.

After a whitewash in the three-match T20I series, not many would have expected West Indies to punch above their weight and emerge victorious in the first encounter, They were mentally battered, their morale took a massive beating but the combination of young guns and experienced legs have gelled really well to script a turnaround. They had a huge mental barrier to overcome, which they did and are now oozing with confidence. But will this confidence continue? Or fizzle out for what West Indies is known for?

Pakistan set a massive target of 309 for the hosts to chase. Ahmed Shehzad, Kamran Akmal did extremely well at the top to lay the foundation after which Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Hafeez got the job done. Ashley Nurse was impressive to watch with the ball despite being taken for few runs. The young bowler bagged four wickets for 62 and reduced the impact to some extent. Barring Nurse and Jason Holder none of the West Indian bowler managed to scalp a single wicket as Pakistan piled massive runs.

Unlike West Indies, the visitors had a formidable bowling attack to boast of. The likes of Mohammad Amir, Wahab Riaz, Hasan Ali and Shadab Khan inspire confidence. Saying that they were capable of defending a target of 309 would be an understatement. But West Indies resisted at the start and then came out hard to take a lead in the three-match ODI series.

Chadwick Walton walked back early as Amir did what he is known for – getting early wickets. Elton Lewis and Kieran Powell weathered the early storm and did well in negotiating with the pump Pakistani bowling but the run-rate dropped drastically. When Lewis was dismissed for 47, West Indies were delicately placed at 91 for 2 in 21.4 overs. They were in the hunt, needed a push, but Pakistan were certainly on the front foot.

They suffered a huge blow when Powell was dismissed after spending a reasonable amount of time in the middle and was all set to accelerate. And moments later, Shai Hope was also undone by Shadab Khan. At this stage, many television sets would have been turned off in West Indies as they needed 151 runs from 98 deliveries with six wickets in hand. And how can West Indies win this game, they haven’t chased down such a huge target in their ODI chronicle. They will have to script history to win this game and that too without some of their star players. Though the target looks an easy one as per West Indies standards had this been a T20 game but ODI is a different game altogether.

Pakistan should have won the game from here on but Jason Mohammed had other ideas. He played one gem of an innings to sail the West Indian ship out of choppy waters. He belted three sixes and 11 boundaries for his unbeaten 91 off 58 deliveries and Nurse turned the tide with his manic approach and belligerence. The duo stitched a match-winning 50 runs partnership off 27 deliveries, out of which, 35 runs came off Nurse’s willow. HE is surely the all-rounder to look for in the distant future.

This was West Indies highest successful chase in ODIs, that too, without the services of some of their key players. It’s a fantastic milestone to achieve. And can West Indies replace this in the remainder of the series will be interesting to watch. As of now, the stage is set for a fascinating ODI series as Pakistan will give it all to bounce back in the three-match series. This is not an ordinary way to gun down a 300 plus target, but this is certainly the Caribbean way.

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About the Author

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Suraj Choudhari is a freelance sports journalist. He is an avid follower of the game and played the sport at club level. With a radical understanding about the subtle nuances and intricacies of cricket, he tries to express it through paper and pen.



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