Windies' reputation of being the T20 stalwarts has taken a huge blow after a 0-3 thrashing in the recently concluded series in India. Following the one-sided Test and ODI leg of the tour, the visitors were trusted upon to put up a stiff resistance against their much-fancied hosts in the 20-over format. But in some sort of an anti-climax, the defending World T20 champions have failed to make their presence felt. There were some sparks in between from the boys from the Caribbean, but barring the Chennai fixture, which went down to the last ball of the match, India almost cakewalked in the series, despite not having the services of regular skipper Virat Kohli.
Nevertheless, make no mistake, this has been a new-look Windies T20I unit and they are currently in a rebuilding phase, just learning to live without the big guns. In fact, coming into this series, when the Courtney Browne-led selection committee picked up seven uncapped players in this squad, their solo objective was to provide these youngsters an exposure in the toughest of conditions against a quality team.
"With the T20 World Cup two years away the process of rebuilding a squad to be a competitive unit for the tournament is critical at this stage," Brown said prior to the start of the series. "The introduction of young talent at this time gives the coaching staff some lead time to help them develop their skills and for the team to develop into a very competitive unit."
Though the selectors retained their faith in some experienced pros like Kieron Pollard, Denesh Ramdin and Darren Bravo, who were supposed to "work alongside the younger group", but the trio failed to live up to the expectations. Also, initially the swashbuckling all-rounder Andre Russell was named in the 14-member squad. But he pulled out at the eleventh hour and the in-form Shai Hope was drafted in.
"The team retains some experienced players who will work alongside the younger group which is very important for their development. The journey will begin without some of our stalwarts noticeably Chris Gayle, Marlon Samuels and Samuel Badree. Andre Russell and Sunil Narine are injured at this time. Ashley Nurse will miss both the remainder of the India tour and the Bangladesh tour as he recovers from his injury. We wish the team every success on a challenging assignment in India," Brown mentioned in a Windies press release, before the first match in Kolkata.
Well, with Pollard losing his mojo, missing Russell eventually turned out to be a huge setback for the Windies. Under the circumstances, the rest of boys were required to lift the games to make this contest interesting but as the series progressed, the Carlos Brathwaite-led team was seen crumbling under pressure, unlike their predecessors.
Getting runs on the board, had been the primary concern for the Windies despite some quality in their ranks. In Kolkata and Lucknow their batsmen could only manage 109 and 124 respectively. There was neither any application nor any gameplan. Unnecessarily, the batsmen were trying to be flashy and ultimately lost their way. Against the spin of Kuldeep Yadav and Co some of the young Windes batsmen were struggling like a fish out of water.
Also, throughout the series, the Windies had to use makeshift options in the top-order. At the Eden Gardens, Ramdin was sent to open the innings alongside Hope. Whereas in Lucknow and Chennai, Shimron Hetmyer did the job. Interestingly, they had Nicholas Pooran in the squad, who is a seasoned opener in CPL. But they preferred him in the middle-order and in Chennai, the southpaw showed some glimpses of his talent with a counter-attacking half-century. He was the only Windies batsmen to cross the 50-run mark in the series. Not only that, his 87-run stand with Bravo in the third T20I, which was actually a dead-rubber, is the only positive to talk about the Windies batting effort during the three-match series.
In bowling, pacer Oshane Thomas was by far their best man on display. The spell he bowled at Eden Gardens made for a great spectacle. With his raw pace and height, the 21-year old Jamaican got the better of Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan and made India sweat in their pursuit of the lowly target of 110.
However, the rest of the bowlers were patchy and one-dimensional. There were too many freebies on offer over the three matches, which played an instrumental role in letting India off the hook at crucial junctures.
Furthermore, the wickets in Kolkata and Chennai had a fair bit of turn on offer and Windies missed not having a quality spin options. Someone like Narine, Badree or Nurse would have made life difficult for the Indian batsmen in those conditions.
Overall, the entire tour has been a massive learning curve for the Windies boys and now their admirers can certainly expect them to use this experience to achieve better results during their upcoming assignment in Bangladesh.
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