It’s Do or Dot for the West Indies

It’s Do or Dot for the West Indies

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Ah the nature of World Cup cricket!

After playing winning cricket for the best part of 4 matches leading up to Wednesday night’s encounter with old foes England, defeat has left West Indies in essentially a win or go home scenario. A side that had won 8 consecutive matches (for the first time ever) now find themselves on the brink of being knocked out after one defeat.

So how did we get here?

A steady start

West Indies started their group stage off with expected wins vs PNG & Uganda. They ticked many boxes, although by everyone’s admission the match against PNG was a bit closer than it should have been.

One box that remained unticked though – the number of dot balls their batters faced. It would be a bit harsh to criticize the batting. The line-up only needed to chase 136 vs PNG & posted 173 against Uganda. The latter was far more than enough for a side that could only muster 39 all out.

The real tests lay ahead as they faced New Zealand on a re-laid surface at Tarouba & Afghanistan in St Lucia on a faster track.

Check out more content by Line & Length WI on the state of T20I cricket & on Nicholas Pooran!

Choppy waters

Against New Zealand, the West Indies found themselves 30-5 in the seventh over. It proved to be a trickier pitch than the one in Guyana. The early & consistent loss of wickets meant the dots kept piling up as new batters arrived and struggled to get in on an inconsistent surface.

The recovery led by Sherfane Rutherford – whose 68 off 39 is one of the innings of the tournament – obviously required consolidation during the middle overs. Thus, the West Indies accumulated more and more dot balls, despite eventually posting what proved to be a winning score of 149.

Roll on Afghanistan. The best surface that the West Indies were likely to play on produced the best batting innings. Nicholas Pooran and Shai Hope kept dot balls to a minimum. The Windies’ best players of spin faced 85.18% of the deliveries bowled by the spinners, culminating in Pooran taking Rashid Khan’s final over for 24 runs!

Things were looking up. But you still felt this formula would need to be replicated for the results to follow.

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Struggles against spin

So unto Wednesday night’s encounter. After losing the toss and being put in, West Indies got off to a decent start going at nine an over at the end of the powerplay. They lost Brandon King to an injury, so Pooran joined Johnson Charles at the crease.

The approach of the batters towards the spinners, however, lacked the aggression of the previous match. Pooran’s dismissal, just before the introduction of Adil Rashid for his final over, seemed to upset the template he had set in the previous match – taking on the key spinner in their final over.

Rashid’s last over, instead of going for 24, went for 2 runs and included the wicket of Andre Russell. That, combined with a few good overs at the end from the England seamers, proved to be the difference between a score of 180 and 210.

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Lack of intent?

For all the qualities of the West Indies batters, they need a more efficient way of scoring off spin in the middle overs. It’ll take the pressure off the likes of Nicholas Pooran to take down the opposition’s spinners and decrease the number of dot balls faced.

Wednesday night’s 180 could easily have been 210. It required better intent shown in the middle overs vs the likes of Rashid on what was a good batting surface.

Friday night vs the USA and Sunday night’s match vs South Africa now become semi-final-extended for the West Indies. What will their plan be to face the likes of Maharaj, Shamsi & the USA spinners when they come on to bowl in the middle overs?

Losing is part and parcel of the game. But the Windies would not want to go down knowing they left runs out on the field.


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