The West Indies, once upon a time, was one of the dangerous sides in cricket. The team had a spark, their hunger to win was always seen in their body language and what kept them apart from the other teams was their aggressive approach to the game. Unfortunately, in the last 10 years of so, all these factors have more or less disappeared from the West Indian camp. While their downfall began from the Test format, now they longer are considered a decent ODI side as well. After winning the Champions Trophy in 2004 and reaching the final in the next edition, West Indies failed to qualify for the tournament this year. They recorded a new low earlier this year when they lost the home ODI series against Afghanistan.
Following a series of poor results, the West Indians were obviously not expected to put up any fight against the World No. 3 Team India. Virat Kohli and Co, after a heartbreak loss in the CT 217 final against Pakistan, flew to the Caribbean for a five-ODI and one-off T20I series. After the first game was washed out by the rain, there were no surprises when the hosts faced heavy losses in the next two matches.
The surprise struck Kohli and his boys in the fourth ODI at Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua.
A loss to Pakistan that too in an ICC event’s final is something Team India will have to live with forever. Just when the Indian team was dealing with that wound, they suffered another humiliating defeat. With two back-to-back losses against India, Jason Holder’s team hit back hard and kept the series alive by winning the fourth ODI. The West Indies batted first and once again they put up a pathetic show with the bat. However, if the Windies were criticised for facing 192 dot balls, the Indian team was not very behind in those terms. During their chase of mere 190 runs in 50 overs, they faced 187 dot balls and were bowled out for 178 runs in 49.4 overs.
Although the skipper was the Player of the Match for his five-wicket haul, there was another bowler who earned applauds for his disciplined bowling that frustrated the Indian batsmen, including the former captain MS Dhoni.
Holder, in the post match presentation, appreciated his team’s efforts and made a special mention of Kesrick Williams. “The bowlers really supported me the way they came out and bowled. It is easier when guys come out and do what is expected of them. I must give Kesrick Williams a lot of credit; I thought he did an outstanding job. He is only in his second game and showed a lot of maturity.”
Who is Kesrick Williams?
Williams is a Vincentian cricketer and has played First-Class cricket for several teams in the West Indian domestic circuit. His domestic career has been nothing but a roller coaster ride. He had not played more than two seasons at a stretch in First-Class before his West Indies call. As a 21-year-old, Williams made his First-Class debut for the Windward Islands in March 2011. His first match was against an England Lions side that included Chris Woakes, Jonny Bairstow, and Adil Rashid. He played only one more First-Class game for the Windward Islands before he disappeared from the domestic circuit for the next two years.
He made a comeback in the 2012-13 season and was picked by Combined Campuses and Colleges (CCC). In his maiden season with CCC, he was a part of the team that reached the final of the Regional Super50 List A competition but lost to his former team, Windward Islands. He took 14 wickets across formats in 2012-13 for CCC. The following season, however, Williams’ appearances for CCC were irregular. He played only two List A and three First-Class matches and he ended up spending another two seasons away from domestic cricket in the Caribbean.
His next comeback happened through the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) 2016. Williams was roped in by Jamaica Tallawahs for $5000 and suddenly he became a player of immense value for the side. He took 17 wickets at an average of 19.82 and an economy rate of 8.02 to finish as the most successful bowler for Tallawahs and the third highest wicket-taker in the 2016 edition. Courtesy of his outstanding bowling in the CPL, Williams was called up for the West Indies T20I squad for the series against Pakistan in the UAE, after Andre Russell withdrew due to personal reasons.
Prior to the India series, he had no experience in the 50-over format on the international level. His debut ODI turned out to be disastrous for both, him and his side. He was as expensive as 6.90 in 10 overs. However, the way he bounced back in his second match speaks volumes about him as a hard-working cricketer.
Kesrick Williams > MS Dhoni
In the third ODI, India batted first and Dhoni had scored an unbeaten 74 off 78 balls. The knock included three boundaries and two sixes. Dhoni, as he is known to end India’s innings with a boundary, regardless of which innings, once again had stuck to his tradition. The 27-year-old Williams bowled the last over and Dhoni had smashed him over mid-off to end India’s innings with a four. India had piled up 251 runs in 50 overs and eventually sealed the game by 93 runs.
Nevertheless, the tables turned in the fourth match. Williams bowled at India’s wicketkeeper-batsman for the first time in the 15th over, when Dhoni was new at the crease. Dhoni faced the first four balls of the over and had managed only two runs off it. It was just the beginning of a great battle that would go on till the crucial end of the match.
Williams bowled a total of 35 balls to Dhoni in the entire match and it was the West Indian who happened to dominate the batsman, who is considered to be one cricket’s best-ever finishers. In the first 15 balls from Williams, Dhoni could score only five runs. As the game progressed, the asking rate began to shoot up. Dhoni had begun to take the risky singles but still remained calculated with his big shots. Meanwhile, Williams and the other West Indian bowlers brought out their best bowling to frustrate the “cool” batsman.
Dhoni took a single off the last ball of the 48th over and took the strike in the penultimate over. India needed 16 runs off the final two overs and Dhoni was on the strike. Dhoni had done that before. The point was, could he repeat it? Going four years back, in the West Indies, Dhoni found himself in the similar situation. India needed 15 runs off the last over in the Tri-nation final against Sri Lanka. Captain Dhoni got it in three hits.
However, things aren’t the same anymore.
Williams began his final over and he had a determined Dhoni at the strike. The first ball was a slower ball and Dhoni left it for a dot. The next ball, Dhoni as calm as ever, pushed it for a single. That brought Kuldeep Yadav on the strike, The West Indian fast bowler pinched Team India with two dots balls before Kuldeep finally brought Dhoni back on strike. Dhoni, after all, is a human being with emotions and the ability to feel the pressure. That’s where he was beaten.
The two dot balls led to Dhoni going out of his own characteristic. After having played so wisely, he cleared his front foot aggressively and smashed the ball straight to long-on. Joseph moved a couple of steps and completed a high-waist catch. Dhoni closed his eyes and his expressions of disappointment with himself were more than evident on his face. While he finished by scoring India’s slowest half-century in 16 years (54 off 114), he gifted Kesrick Williams memories to cherish forever!