Ferocious bouncers, searing pace, and ruthlessly powerful strokeplay: the West Indies’ 212-ball demolition of Pakistan in the World Cup was easily the most one-sided game of the tournament.
Pakistan’s campaign seemed to have ended before it even began. The West Indies, for their part, seemed on course for a dramatic, fairy-tale resurgence.
As it turned out, Pakistan narrowly missed out on the Semi-finals, whereas the men from the Caribbean didn’t even come close, losing 6 out of their next 7 completed games.
Stretch this out further, and they have lost 12 out of their last 13 or 18 out of their last 22 games across formats. Despite all the obvious talent that they possess, this is hardly a resurgence.
It’s a damn near crisis!
To make matters worse, their poor run looks set to continue as they take on the dominant Indians at Sabina Park on Friday. Here are 5 things they need to do if they hope to upset the apple cart.
Get Kohli in Early
KL Rahul’s recent test fortunes have been riddled with inconsistency, while opening partner Mayank Agarwal is still finding his feet in Test Cricket. If the Kemar Roach-led bowling attack can draw first blood, they could force Kohli to walk-in before the ball gets old. Get him, and they could trigger the sorts of collapses that plagued India on their tours of England and South Africa.
If, however, they are unable to make early inroads, The West Indies could well be made to toil as Kohli and co. capitalize on a softer ball and friendlier batting conditions.
Blunt the New Ball
Great things were expected of Kraigg Brathwaite when he scored 134 and 95 to lead the West Indies to a historic victory at Leeds in 2017. However, the stubborn opener hasn’t crossed 50 in his last 16 innings, averaging 13.40 in that period.
Shai Hope—his partner-in-crime from Headingley, who scored twin hundreds in the same game—has experienced a parallel dip in form, being pushed down the order to 6 and 7 respectively across West Indies two innings at Atingua.
If Brathwaite can rediscover the kind of form that would consistently tire out the opposition’s strike bowlers, a suspect middle order may stand a better chance against India’s 4th or 5th bowlers.
Convert their Starts
Every member of West Indies top 8 got into double figures in their first innings at Antigua. However, Roston Chase’s 48 was the highest score they could collectively muster as India went into the second half of the game with a 75-run lead.
Possibly intimidated by a mammoth chase of 419, they were unable to add to their tally of 50+ scores in an appalling 2nd innings display. India’s top 8 on the other hand, managed four half-centuries and a century between them.
With a combined 26 career hundreds, the West Indies line-up is certainly capable of buckling down to frustrate the Indians. Having said that, unless they are able to apply themselves, the home fans may have to endure more embarrassing team totals.
Pick a Bowler, but only if you Plan to Bowl Him
Miguel Cummins bowled a grand total of 20 overs across both innings in Antigua, essentially playing as a specialist tail-ender. The West Indies, for all intents and purposes, were playing with 10 players.
With the Head Curator of Sabina Park, Michael Hylton promising a green top, Cummins’ replacement, Keemo Paul may have a more prominent role to play and should edge out Rakheem Cornwall in a head-to-head for the 11th spot.
Nevertheless, there could still be room for the off-spinning all-rounder—who unlike Roston Chase could be a genuine wicket-taking option—if the West Indies leaves out one of their underperforming batsmen. Shamarh Brooks would be the most likely casualty in this scenario.
Although bowling is their main asset, both of these potential replacements can score some crucial late-order runs against an Indian bowling attack that has struggled to dismiss the tail in recent times.
Win the Toss, Bat First
Since the start of 2018, India has been asked to chase on five separate occasions. In that time, they’ve been set moderately challenging totals of 208, 287, 194, 245, and 287.
They’ve lost all of those games.
India does not cope well with the pressure of the chase; an inconvenient truth that has become apparent across formats, most notably in their loss to New Zealand in the World Cup semi-final.
The topic of the pitch takes center stage once again. If the 2nd test match ends up being a low-scoring fixture, any target approaching 200 could give them an even chance against a batting line-up that is more than aware of their recent chasing mishaps.