West Indies in Sri Lanka 2020 series
It’s easy to criticize a team when it doesn’t win a series and evades critique by winning an odd game here or there.
This was a team that had copped up criticism, as it didn’t even win a single contest which would’ve been a far better outcome in the recent ODIs than being whitewashed by a side slightly better placed in ICC rankings.
Frankly speaking, the West Indians had earned all the criticism prior to their amazing T20 turnout. In the first ODI, they were led actually by Shai Hope’s hundred and less by Pollard’s 9 of just 6. Yet somehow, the lower order stood up to guide the team to what was a par-score on a flat deck. The bowlers found a way to lose the game; the world hadn’t frankly expected a less-known albeit tremendously talented Wanindu Hasaranga to play the unlikely matchwinner.
True to their own style, the visitors found a way to hit their hotel rooms early when in pursuit of 346, instead of battling it out to the last ball; they vacated the 22 yards precisely in 39.1 overs.
Not that the frustration of another ODI series lost was not playing on their mind. Had the team not desired fighting back, they wouldn’t have sprung suddenly back into the thick of things in the final contest (at Pallekele) finding themselves painfully short by just 6 runs chasing 308 for victory.
So now that Kieron Pollard- 500 T20Is and 10,000 T20 runs old- has lifted his very first T20 series win trophy this means so much more. It’s more than some random series win.
Those who forget the importance of this victory should be reminded of a quick flashback.
The West Indies and Sri Lanka are two sides that don’t play each other for several bi-lateral series, one after the other.
Take, for instance, India playing Australi and South Africa. In a few days’ time, the Proteas would be back to the very shores for 3 ODIs where they had been hammered last October albeit in Tests.
Nonetheless, the last that the West Indies and Sri Lanka played each other in Sri Lanka, Bumrah hadn’t been tagged as the world’s “greatest bowler,” Brian Lara hadn’t taken guard at the Road Safety Series, Kyle Jamieson wasn’t even an international cricketer, Amla was still around, Hardik Pandya and KL Rahul hadn’t yet met Karan Johar for a coffee, Smith and Warner hadn’t found themselves suspended, Ashwin was still a regular ODI feature, and everyone knew Delhi Capitals as Delhi Daredevils.
In 2015, a year synonymous with not 1 but 2 double centuries in ODI cricket (Gayle’s 215 and Guptill’s 237*), the West Indies endured a similar fate as their 2020 listless run in Sri Lanka; there was no escaping the Lankan onslaught 5 years back in time.
Of the 2 T20Is played back then, the side, then led by Sammy did manage to win 1 of the games, the second contest won at the back of Dwayne Bravo’s brilliant all-round show, amplified by 4 wickets (4 for 28).
So this time around as Russell, Simmons, and Thomas have powered the team to what can be called a rarity for never before the recent 2-0 series win have the West Indies ever clean-swept the Sri Lankans in T20Is (held in SL), the men from the Caribbean must make most of it.
They must celebrate; dance, sing, make merry, pose for selfies, and cut dollops of cake and bite into caramel amid swashbuckling music.
For this time, as one can see through the astonishing muscle power of Andre Russell – 10 sixes in all from both innings- and Oshane Thomas’ special fifer- 5 for 28 in 1st T20- the team has earned the right to break into Caribbean tunes. Criticism not allowed!