From a traditional standpoint, the record of West Indies in T20s against India is poor, really poor. Not before 2011, did the West Indies and India square off against one another for the first time in cricket’s shortest format.
Remember, back then, the West Indies hadn’t been world champions of the format yet, a template of the sport that according to many, suits their wham-bam no-holds-barred style of cricket.
In 2011, there was only 1 T20 between the two sides, which was nailed by the Indians. Since then, the West Indies in T20s against India have seemed less of a powerful figure they’ve otherwise proven themselves to be.
On Tuesday, that’s 6 August 2019, the West Indies will square off against India for one more time in the ongoing season and also until the end of the year. And lest it is forgotten, the occasion will be a precarious one for the hosts in Guyana. For not for the first time will the Carlos Brathwaite-side be standing on the verge of an absolute T20 series annihilation at the hands of India.
But before we delve further into the West Indians’ sorry state of affairs, let’s examine the statistical journey of the two teams in Cricket’s most entertaining format.
Since 2011, the two teams have locked horns in 8 T20 internationals, 2 held in 2016, 1 held in 2017, 3 in 2018, and as seen recently, then 2 in the last week.
Of these, India have won 5 games while the Windies have won 2 and 1 contest has been lost to a no-result.
No side wishes to face the ignominy of being whitewashed in any format of the game. But for the West Indies, it isn’t something new or astounding. Remember 2018?
The three-match T20 series was clinched by India in a clinical fashion, their bowlers, in particular, the spinners exposing the chinks in the Windies batsmen’ armor.
It must be said the only contest, where the touring men in maroon as they are called came close to looking somewhat threatening was in the final T20 at Chennai where batting first, helped by a Nicholas Pooran and Darren Bravo special, the side compiled a solid 182.
Although, in the end, it wasn’t enough.
But it must be said that if the Windies are to avoid an embarrassing whitewash against the Indians in the next few hours, then their batsmen will have to stick their necks up. For where seen in the past two games, the bowling has been quality and has fetched some memorable returns.
Take Sheldon Cottrell for example. The man behind the ‘soldier’ salute has fetched 4 wickets, the most by any bowler in their side so far. With Sunil Narine- 2 wickets in the first game- the bowling department looks strong with Carlos Brathwaite’s medium-pacers offering variety along with new picks such as Pierre and Keemo Paul, who impressed in the 2nd T20 albeit going for quite a few.
But the concern remains in the very department that has gone on to fashion quite a reputation for the West Indians: batting. It’s not for nothing that the Caribbean batters are considered ball-battering, big-hitting attackers.
It’s this potent exhibition of talent that has gone on to help the side crown itself with 2 separate T20 world cups. Sadly though, none of that famed big-hitting has surfaced so far.
With the possible exception of Kieron Pollard, 49 from 49 in 1st T20 at Florida, someone who arguably played a career-saving inning and Rovman Powell, the only half century scorer in the series so far, no other batsman has looked attacking, let alone responsible for useful runs.
But make no mistake. We saw the power-hitting of Nicholas Pooran, seen strangely suffering in the just-concluded T20, in the World Cup. We also saw him plunder four sixes in that Chennai T20, a game that very nearly saw the Windies over the line with the hosts winning it on the final ball.
So you could say, the leftie is due for a special knock. He’s got all the shots in the book, it’s a matter of execution. Isn’t it?
And while it seemed that sense finally prevailed with Sunil Narine opening the batting, something the Trinidadian is commonly seen doing in the IPL for his Kolkata Knight Riders, it didn’t help his team’s cause when he simply struggled to put the bat to ball in the second game. Gavaskar, expressing as eruditely as only he could argued, “West Indians are being overaggressive.”
The pressure to put on a big whack saw Narine dance down the track to Washington Sundar and that was the end of that. A similar case of ‘you miss, I hit, ” prevailed. While Pollard being sent down the order didn’t exactly help the Windies’ case, the lowest ebb in their batting, thus far, has been Evin Lewis, inarguably, one of T20s biggest clubbers of the ball.
How can you expect the batting department to produce ingenious quantum of runs when your well-established opening batsman perishes without scoring, in two back-to-back games.
A duck in the opening game, followed by another in the very next, Lewis certainly has to get going. For now, the West Indians have only got themselves to blame, their dismal failures with the bat themed by the aggregation of dot deliveries.
So can the Calypso men put on a showstopper for the final T20 and put on a fight?