In what was supposed to be the turning point in West Indies reviving cricket career, turned out to be another major upset in New Zealand. After being whitewashed in the Test series, New Zealand continued their domination in the One-Day Internationals (ODIs) as well and clean swept the visitors in a three-match series.
New Zealand romped home with another victory after beating West Indies in a rain-curtailed encounter at Christchurch. West Indies are the undisputed kings of the shortest format of the game. Having won the World Twenty20 title twice in their career, they are a force to be reckoned in this format and a powerhouse.
West Indies have mastered 20 over cricket and most of their players find their zone and wreak havoc when it comes to tis format. They have a knack of snatching victories from imminent jaws of defeat like they famously did it in 2016 World T20 against England.
West Indies have a knack for producing some brilliance occasionally but have failed miserably to do it on a consistent basis. This series was no different, they did put up some fighting performances, but failed to click as a unit. New Zealand were too hot to handle, especially Trent Boult, who ran through their batting regularly with his menacing pace and deadly swing.
The game was a dead rubber with New Zealand gaining an unassailable lead by winning the first two games, but West Indies had a great chance to end the series on a high. New Zealand opted to bat first and were delicately placed at 131 for 4 in 23 overs when incessant rains played the spoilsport.
It rained for hours and just when a washout looked on the cards, the rain gods showed mercy and the play resumed. But, there was a twist. After losing ample of time due to rain, New Zealand didn’t get a chance to bat again and as per the Ducksworth/Lewis method, West Indies were asked to chase a target of 166 in 23 overs.
The stage was set, it was more of a T20 game rather than an ODI for both the sides. Their batsmen needed to come out hard and do what they are known for – attack. The situation was as demanding as a T20 game and the target was well within their reach. But Trent Boult under overcast conditions and pitch assisting seam was always going to be a major threat.
So far, West Indies have remained winless in this tour. They had their chances but failed to capitalise on it and this was their best shot to end the drought. Chasing 166, West Indies needed a steady start and decent amount of runs in the powerplay overs. Surprisingly, what was expected to be a close encounter turned out to be a cakewalk for the New Zealand.
The game got over inside the powerplay, with West Indies losing five wickets inside four overs. Chris Gayle’s performance was pivotal, but his early kill in the first over didn’t help the cause. Kiwi bowlers tightened the noose around West Indies by picking wickets at regular intervals. Boult and Matt Henry were unstoppable with the new ball and exploited the conditions to the fullest.
Kiwi spinners soon joined the party, especially Mitchell Santner, who picked three wickets in his five overs. At one stage, achieving 50 looked unlikely for West Indies, but Jason Holder showed immense resistance and ensured the side lost wth some dignity. Eventually, the visiting side only managed 99 in 23 overs and lost the encounter by 66 runs.
With another series being lost, things are getting bad to worse for the West Indies. With the 2019 World Cup qualifiers being scheduled to be played in March next year, West Indies are yet to figure out a balanced, firing squad for the big league. Their cricket career hit a new low when they didn’t make it to the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy and if things don’t turn out right soon, another upset look on the cards. Their primary target would be to make it to the grandest stage of international cricket and they do have the potential, but consistency is what they must be aiming at.
It’s heart-wrenching for their most loyal fans to watch West Indies crumble in this manner. They didn’t put up a fight at Christchurch. With the T20I series around the corner, they have a golden chance to end the tour on a high, on a winning note.