The West Indians were not satisfactory against Bangladesh during the ODI series…..
Bangladeshi fans, mortified at their team’s humiliating defeat in the Test series against the West Indies, would have felt some relief at their ODI series win. In truth, the result is not surprising: Bangladesh has been a better ODI side than the West Indies for a while; they are listed higher than the West Indies in the ICC rankings. But so inept did they seem in the Tests that the general feeling was that the ODI’s would go much the same way.
We all know there are significant differences between Tests and ODIs. Not unexpectedly, the ODI surfaces had less juice; the white kookaburra is also less volatile than the red Dukes and, as a result, batting was more straightforward. But the Bangladeshi cricketers showed, by overcoming the West Indies with some ease, that they are actually better than they showed during the Tests.
With the World Cup scheduled for England in 2019, both sides used this series, and will use their matches running up to the contest, to evaluate their readiness for cricket’s most esteemed tournament. Neither team would’ve been satisfied with their level of competence, but the West Indies, in particular, has much work to do if they are to be competitive in England next year.
The easier batting conditions meant the Bangladesh batsmen had things substantially easier. But the West Indies should learn from this encounter that they need better wicket-taking options so as to make early inroads into the opposition’s batting. Their opening burst simply wasn’t incisive enough. Bangladesh’s top order had things much too easy.
In the Tests, Kemar Roach, for the brief time he was available, and Shannon Gabriel, traumatized the visitor’s lefthanders by going round the wicket, angling the ball in, before coaxing it to straighten. Neither bowler was involved in the ODIs and so their lefthanders made hay. Man-of-the-series Tamim Iqbal made 130*, 54 and 103, while Shakib Al Hasan’s scores were 97, 56 and 37. These were huge contributions, and as is often the case with Bangladesh, they win games in which Tamim makes big scores.
The West Indies spinners, Ashley Nurse and Devendra Bishoo acquitted themselves reasonably well, though both would like to improve the rate at which the gather wickets in the middle overs.
Holder was lucky that Mushfiqur Rahim, on 68 off 66 balls and threatening to win the game for his country, slapped a harmless full toss straight down Keemo Paul’s throat at deep midwicket with just eight needed from the final over. The West Indies captain then went on to allow only four runs for the over and so his side won. The home side’s death bowling was otherwise poor, however. They will need to improve in that area.
Their batting was also underwhelming. Evin Lewis and Chris Gayle are normally two of the most explosive batsmen in the game. But they never really got going this series. Gayle made a few good scores, but it is evident that he is no longer the destructive force he was in his prime. He is still capable of bashing any ball out of the ground but circumstances have forced him to adopt a more deliberative approach. He got starts in every game, and even made 73 off 66 balls in St. Kitts. Still, this is not the marauding swashbuckler that can defeat you all by himself. He still can play a large role in the team, however, and the West Indies authorities will hope he remains fit and in form for a while yet.
His opening partner Lewis seemed a victim of poor form throughout. He never really got started in any game, his highest score being 17 in the first Guyana game. On those few occasions that the ball came off his bat nicely, it always seemed to find a close-in fielder. He is a very good player, though, and should soon be in the runs again.
Shai Hope, at three, continues to disappoint. His batting last year at Headingley marked him as a player apart. Since then he has largely been unimpressive. He made 64 in the last game in St. Kitts. But 64 off 94 deliveries in a game in which the opposition scores in excess of 300 is rather pedestrian, and a number of the home fans point to him as the main reason the game was lost. Hints of class still shine through the mediocrity but he desperately needs to improve his productivity to fulfil his obvious potential.
Allrounder Rovman Powell didn’t get a bowl, for some reason, but he played two very useful innings, 44 in the second game and 74* in the third. His 74 was a rousing effort that almost took his side to victory. Too much loitering had gone on before, however, and he had too much to do in the end. Still, he remains a most useful player, especially if he can get the captain to trust his bowling. He should be able to find a regular spot on the team.
The real spark in the West Indies’ batting was the 21-year-old Guyanese, Shimron Hetmyer. The left-hander, formerly the captain of the winning West Indies U19 team in the last World Cup, was his team’s heaviest scorer in the series. His 125 in the second game was made off 93 deliveries and featured shots all around the park.
This may be sacrilegious but his array of strokes and his fondness for playing them reminds us of Brian Lara. A heavy burden to bear, I know, but he represents real talent and should be in the forefront of West Indies batting for a long time.
What we can safely say is that this series emphasized how far behind the major teams the Caribbean side are. There is talk that the way could be paved for Sunil Narine, Dwayne Bravo and others to find their way into the side and their presence would no doubt make the team stronger. But the West Indies will still have many adjustments to make before they are able to realistically challenge the likes of India and England.