“His hitting prowess was brought to the fore as the West Indies team fell prey to inconsistency from their middle order yet again”
West Indies’ defeat to Bangladesh in the third and final ODI followed a trend that has become quite common in the recent past. Chasing 301 for win, the home team were still the favourites to chase the target down at the half-way stage. With Chris Gayle in roaring form, no score was beyond the reach of the Windies and little did the Calypso disappoint.
Even as Evin Lewis succumbed after struggling to an innings of 13 in 33 balls, Gayle was at the crease doing what he does best – sending the deliveries across the ropes. He struck 73 in 66 balls, with a strike-rate of 110.61 and courtesy his five sixes, West Indies reached 105 within 22 overs. When he departed, his side needed less than 200 runs in 28 overs, which is hardly considered a tough target in the days of T20 cricket.
However, the middle order woes came back to haunt the Jason Holder-led team once again, as the batsmen from positions 3 to 7 failed to garner momentum whatsoever. While Shai Hope played a shocking innings of 64 in 94 balls, Shimron Hetmyer was the victims of dodgy stroke-play. Jason Holder failed to get going against the change in pace by Mustafizur Rahman and only Rovman Powell showed the way with a brave 74 in 41 deliveries, which amounted to a strike-rate of 180.49.
His intentions were clear from the beginning when he hit a four off Shakib Al Hasan in the second ball that he faced. He edged and he walloped towards the ball even as the other players failed to get going. He picked up a slower delivery off the hand and smashed a huge six over deep mid-wicket and then a few balls later sent another six in the same region with intense power.
His hitting prowess was brought to the fore as the West Indies team fell prey to inconsistency from their middle order yet again. In the last 12 months, the side has more often than not failed to fire as a unit and even though a number of match-winners are present, they are unable to get going together. As it happens, one player remains the lone man standing, which creates havoc in West Indies’ progress towards the finish line.
At Manchester against England, only Holder held one end up as he was unbeaten on 41 whilst the others around him refused to get going. In the next match in the series against England at The Oval, Holder scored 77 after Lewis had made 176 but it too was not enough. Rovman Powell was the only half-centurion in the middle order in the first ODI against West Indies, after Lewis had once again managed a score of 76 to lay a solid foundation. In the next few matches, all the middle-order managed were scores of 30s and 40s, even when the openers were in fine form. Powell’s unbeaten knock of 74 at Basseterre against Bangladesh followed a now-common script as well, wherein the top two had settled down but their hard work was undone by the shabby display of the lower order players.
In the last 12 months, four players have opened the innings for West Indies in 11 games, scoring 730 runs with one hundred and three fifties in losses. In wins, three players have opened the innings and have made 381 runs at an average of 31.75.
|WI top-order in wins||31.75||1|
|WI middle-order in wins||41.05||2|
|WI top-order in losses||34.76||1|
|WI middle-order in losses||25.95||0|
The above table clearly states how important the middle-order has been in the good showing of West Indies in the last one year. The openers have been relatively consistent – when high scores elude them, they make up for it with an impressive strike-rate. On occasions, the middle-order pitches in with a confident display of strength to take the game over the finish line but when the chips are down, they seem to struggle.
If the team intends to showcase their might in the World Cup next year, the middle-order needs to get their act together or perish when conditions and situations will be harder.