“With the power-hitters in the lower order relied upon to give the innings a lift in the final few overs, Windies left it to their shortest format instincts to take them over the line, not realising that this was an entirely different ball game”
When the highest partnership in the innings is from your final pair, it speaks volumes about the direction of the innings. After thumping Bangladesh in the Test series, Windies were supposedly boosted by the arrivals of some of their mercenaries – Chris Gayle and Andre Russell – for the ODIs against Bangladesh.
But, like in all formats, current form, mindset and historical records have altogether different meanings. Chris Gayle and Andre Russell might have travelled to more countries than the entire group of other nine players ever have but mindset in cricket is tricky.
What Windies boasted of in terms of experience, they lacked in approach. Gayle cracked a couple of meaty blows, but looked apprehensive against the bowling, choosing to settle down and then make one huge heave towards that 280 run target. What he probably missed, or had forgotten after playing a slew of T20 games, is the kind of pressure his innings put on some of his mates.
Losing Evin Lewis and Shai Hope early, Windies needed Gayle to rotate strike or get going. He did neither, consumed several balls, and put Shimron Hetmyer under immense pressure. When Gayle departed for 40 from 60 balls, the onus was entirely on Hetmyer to give the innings some direction.
Behind the eight ball by then, Windies needed someone to give Hetmyer a helping hand but unfortunately, it never materialized. Jason Mohammad and Jason Holder fell in quick succession to leave the hosts in a crater. Rovman Powell obliged with a golden duck soon after Hetmyer’s untimely punch.
It sealed the game for the Tigers, hungry for a successful break after their infamous collapses in the Test series. But where exactly did the hosts lose it? Didn’t they have a decent enough start? Did they give a few runs too many with the ball? Didn’t they have one innings of individual brilliance?
Most of these were true, but what really hurt the Windies was lack of partnerships in the middle. Bangladesh’s 279 was powered by one mammoth 207 run stand between two of their most experienced campaigners. Pushed to no.3, Shakib-al-Hasan and Tamim Iqbal thwarted the Windies threat, scoring at a consistent rate and ensuring that the pressure was on the bowling team to break the stand.
Yet, without Rahim’s cameo at the death, Windies might have escaped with a below-par target. They count have chased something way below what Bangladesh would have liked had Rahim not intervened and given the innings some late momentum with some lusty blows.
The Windies are masters in the art of cameos. Unlike their Test side, their ODI team is made up of a majority of wannabe T20 stars who haven’t quite made it big. At Guyana, the confused mindset hurt them. They were neither going for the big hits nor settling down into a partnership.
While Devendra Bishoo and Alzarri Joseph put on an unbeaten 59 run stand for the final wicket, the next best was 40 for the third wicket. That stand, between Chris Gayle and Shimron Hetmyer, was as directionless as Gavaskar’s clueless 36 in the World Cup opener 43 years ago. It was probably quicker scoring that some of their other partnerships but it sorely lacked in giving Windies an upper hand in the game, which it should have.
Gayle is among the most experienced players in the Caribbean Islands. But with the onus on him to gun down a big score, Gayle opted to sit back and play his T20 game, settle in and go berserk. The second half never materialized and with a mountain to climb at the point of his dismissal, West Indies lost it.
The scoreboard last night showed Gayle as Windies’ second top scorer in the innings, but his knock was beagle-brained as Windies’ entire innings. Their list of partnerships in the game read 27, 14, 40, 30, 30, 0, 10, 12, 9 and 59*. At no stage in the innings did any batsman show the temperament or composure to motivate his partner and give the innings a recuperation.
With the power-hitters in the lower order relied upon to give the innings a lift in the final few overs, Windies left it to their shortest format instincts to take them over the line, not realising that this was an entirely different ball game.
They might come back and level the series three days later in the same ground, but consistent, collective performances are what makes a team a force in ODIs and the West Indies have lamentably lacked that skill. This, among others, could be the reason for them sitting out the Champions Trophy last year and playing the World Cup Qualifiers to reach the final 10 in the World Cup next year. They need a change in mindset before that tournament gets underway and it has to start now!