Jake Ball steams in, gets the ball to pitch it fuller into the left-handed Evin Lewis, the southpaw inside edges it to his right ankle and is down on the ground in pain. He looks in discomfort, his team want him to get up and continue his magic. But Lewis doesn’t get up and had to be wheeled to the pavilion on a stretcher. The crowd at The Oval stood up and acknowledged a brilliant innings under immense pressure. He was on the brink of scripting history, but his dream run was cut short by a mistimed and very unfortunate injury.
The ongoing One-Day International (ODI) series between England and West Indies have produced some mind-boggling innings. The series opener saw Jonny Bairstow adapting into the opener’s role on a high by smashing his maiden century while the third encounter witnessed Moeen Ali’s belligerent century. Come to third ODI, and the crowd at The Oval was treated with a splendid innings, which brimmed with determination and calculated hitting.
Prior to the start of this match, Lewis averaged 24.95 in 22 games and had a solitary century to his name. He was yet to play an innings of substance in the series so far and the pressure was just piling on him to deliver. After the completion of this game, Lewis’ average saw a massive boost as it now reflects as 34.21.
Lewis’ unbeaten 176 off 130 deliveries was magical but was extremely unlucky to have not breached the 200-run mark, which looked quite achievable. He had an opportunity to become the second West Indies batsman to have an ODI double ton under his belt, but a hair-line fracture denied him.
CONGRATS! Evin Lewis 2nd ODI century for Windies pic.twitter.com/P7p1xwHdVi
— Windies Cricket (@windiescricket) September 27, 2017
Lewis is primarily reckoned for his prowess in the formats like Twenty20 (T20) and has wreaked havoc consistently. In 14 T20I games, the maverick southpaw has already plundered two tons and as many half-centuries. He averages 36 and boasts of a staggering strike-rate of 154.96.
Lewis can strike the ball hard and clean, which is rare. On his ability to strike big, Lewis was quoted by ESPNCricinfo saying, “I have a special talent in me to hit sixes, so I just keep working on it every time I go out to bat, try and work on my strengths and also my weaknesses. Once I know I can hit a ball for a six, I’ll hit it for a six. It can be the first ball. I always back my strength. Certain balls I know, when it’s in my arc, I know I can hit it out of the ground. Sometimes the good balls also go for six – that’s how the game is. When you’re on point, you’re on point.”
West Indies were in need of a win at London to remain alive in the series as England were already 2-0 up in the five-match series. In the very first over, Chris Gayle edged one to Joe Root at first slip off Chris Woakes. Moments later, Shai Hope was caught behind and Woakes had two wickets in two overs. In the seventh over, when Woakes trapped Samuels leg before, another low-scoring contest looked on the cards, but it wasn’t to be. Lewis stood his ground and played to his strength while Jason Mohammed and Jason Holder supported him well.
At 33 for 3, not many would have anticipated West Indies to reach the 300-run mark let alone 357, which they eventually achieved. Jason Mohammed took his time while Lewis played his natural game in order to steady the West Indian ship. The duo stitched a crucial 117-run stand and kept West Indies ship afloat in troubled waters. They rotated the strike well and built an innings.
After Mohammed’s dismissal, West Indies skipper Holder joined Lewis out in the middle and the duo had a task in hand. Lewis brought up his second ODI ton in the 35th over and looked all set to launch an attack. He was yet to smash a six, and a storm was about to strike London. He looked composed and placed his innings sensibly. The 40th over off Liam Plunkett saw the first six of the innings being hit by Lewis, which was a top-edge off a short delivery but had the power to sail over the boundary.
Evin Lewis' 176 the highest retired hurt score in international cricket history, breaking the record set by Bannerman in the first ever Test
— Andy Zaltzman (@ZaltzCricket) September 27, 2017
Lewis reached his 100-run mark in 94 deliveries and shifted gears in no time to garner 71 off the next 37 deliveries. He hit seven sixes after reaching the landmark and added the impetus to West Indies’ innings. Holder and Lewis collected 87 runs in overs 41 to 45, which enhanced their chances of getting a massive total. In the course, Lewis took on Moeen Ali and milked 22 runs from five deliveries off the 44th over. Holder kept the tempo up by playing attacking brand of cricket.
West Indies had 357 runs on the board but ended up on the losing side. England won the game by 6 runs (D/L method) and sealed the series. Lewis has been ruled out of the tour, but can he take this momentum in the games to come? Can he be more consistent? Well, that’s for the time to decide, but the 25-year-old has got the ingredients to success and looks hungry for more. West Indies are in dire need of performances like this and need the young guns to step up.