“The dark horse tag has been erased and now, with three losses and with one washout, their chances of qualifying for the semi-finals hang by a thread”
It was exactly two and a half weeks back that the world sat up to take notice of this West Indies side. The term ‘dark horse’ and ‘surprise’ started doing rounds if it already didn’t. It was their very first game of this World Cup and they made people laud their refreshing and exciting approach.
The fast bowlers ran in and bounced Pakistan into submission. The batting blew the paltry total away in a mere 13.4 overs. In fact, they had shown a glimpse of the power in the warm-up game against New Zealand, smashing 412.
However, since that win against Pakistan, things have drastically changed for the Windies. That first game was on the 31st of May and the turn of the month has turned the fortunes for West Indies and it’s for the worse.
They faced Australia next and were consumed by the ego of their own batsmen. Where playing out a couple of overs might’ve done the trick, the batsmen who are known to be hard hitters, tried smashing their way to victory and succumbed. 15 runs were the margin of defeat and a couple absolutely shoddy and poor strokes which were unnecessary at the stage, cost them the game.
The batsmen’s approach didn’t really change. Against hosts and favourites England side, it seemed like West Indies were obsessed with getting at least 400. But the pitch wasn’t one where you could go in and start smashing sixes from ball one. The boundaries were big too and hence, there was absolutely no application or any sign of adapting. The one-dimensional approach of the Windies batsmen cost them big time.
With the ball as well, the approach has been purely one-dimensional. First things first, the Windies pacers may be tall and may hit the deck hard and crank decent speed. However, their attack seems one-dimensional as well. Their short-ball ploy worked in the first couple of games but it has become very predictable and the opposition batsmen have been prepared. They are setting themselves up and expecting the short ball and the Windies pacers are dishing out the same.
Against England, they overdid it. Against Bangladesh, they overdid it again. In fact, in the first two games, they found success with it but have barely found any success in the last two games. They’ve been overdoing it but haven’t admitted to it as well. Jason Holder feels the execution was to blame and not the overdose of the short balls. However, he may not be right with his analysis. The pacers have gone for plenty and have hardly got any wickets in the last couple of games.
“In hindsight, you could sit here and ponder on a few things. As I said, we didn’t execute. Execution for me today was the issue,” Holder said in the post-match press conference.
In fact, according to CricViz Analyst, in the last two games, the short balls have given West Indies only three wickets. Moreover, their economy is 8.10 with the short-pitched stuff. Hence, this clearly indicates the overdose.
Moreover, despite having two spinners in the 15-man squad, they’ve been reluctant to use even one of them. Yes, they aren’t wicket-taking options, but they provide a change. There’s absolutely no variety or variation in this Windies attack. The only exception is the left-arm option of Sheldon Cottrell.
They suffered their third defeat of this World Cup against Bangladesh who have had the better of them a lot of times in the recent past. They were well placed with the bat and with Shimron Hetmyer going great guns and Shai Hope rotating beautifully, it seemed like a huge score is on the way. However, they repeated the same mistake they committed against Australia. Mustafizur Rahman has been Bangladesh’s premier fast bowler and they tried smashing him out of the park, just like they tried doing it to Mitchell Starc. The result was the same – a flurry of wickets and in the end, Windies ended up at least 30-40 runs short.
In the past, Bangladesh have struggled against the short stuff but this is a different side. They were ready and fought fire with fire. According to CricViz Analyst, West Indian pacers went short 55% in Bangladesh’s run-chase of 322 and they traveled the distance. The economy of the short deliveries was 8.44 which eventually cost them the game.
There has been no plan ‘B’ for the West Indian bowlers. All they’ve done is run in and bang the ball in, expecting the batsmen to get succumb. That hasn’t happened. In fact, it has consumed the Windies team and the results. For a matter of fact, the same has been the case with the batsmen. Their T20 mindset and attack at all costs have cost them big time.
The fielding has also been an issue. Playing big fast bowlers and with people carrying niggles all the time, you are bound to make a mess in the field. They did in the game against Bangladesh which was another reason for their failure to defend 321.
Their adamance on playing Andre Russell despite him being barely fit to limp around has been baffling as well. The Jamaican all-rounder has been swinging his bat blindly and has found no success. With the ball, he puts in the effort but it comes at a cost. He limps around and goes tumbling down almost once every over.
Hence, nothing has gone right for the Windies in this tournament. The dark horse tag has been erased and now, with three losses and with one washout, their chances of qualifying for the semi-finals hang by a thread. They need to win every game. However, they can’t do it if they continue these tactics. Be it with the bat or ball, they’ve been very one-dimensional.