ICC World T20 2014: West Indies have areas of concern but they can return with head held high
West Indies played with spirit and spunk in ICC World T20 2014 © Getty Images
The West Indies crashed out of the ICC World T20 2014 on Thursday night, as Sri Lanka stormed into the summit clash with a win via the Duckworth-Lewis method. While the defending champions had their own fair share of shortcomings in this edition, they produced emphatic performances to come close to the final. Nevertheless, the West Indies can take the flight back home with head held high. Devarchit Varma has more…
The West Indies played like true defending champions in the ICC World T20 2014, but with a disappointing loss to Sri Lanka, they bowed out of the tournament on Thursday at Dhaka. While the critics and the game’s experts would be quick to point out the shortcomings in the Caribbean side and why they failed to make it to the final, the sole reason will always be the fact that the West Indies had two of their out-of-form batsmen at the crease, at a junction when they needed to score at a brisk rate in the semi-final against Sri Lanka. The explosive Chris Gayle and Marlon Samuels, who was their chief architect of their win in the 2012 edition, were terribly out of form and with them failing to adhere to the required rate, the Caribbean side had to bow out.
Darren Sammy-led side truly impressed one-and-all with the brand of cricket they played in the tournament. Sammy admits that his side tends to put away more balls for boundaries and sixes and concentrates less on running between the wickets. One may point out that running between the wickets is crucial in any form of the game, but looking at the results, it cannot be said that West Indies are doing bad by not following the golden rule of the game.
The West Indies won three out of their four matches in the Group league. While they started off on a scratchy note with a defeat to India in the first match, they attained momentum in the second clash against Bangladesh. The final two games — against Australia and Pakistan — proved that the West Indies had it in them to win the trophy for the second consecutive time.
Look at the game against Pakistan. The Pakistanis had West Indies on the floor and at one junction; it looked as if even a modest total of 120 would be gettable. The West Indies were struggling at 84 for five after 15 overs and everyone thought that a Pakistan win is certain here. But Sammy and Dwayne Bravo turned the tables around and piled up as many as 82 runs in the final 30 balls — an onslaught that not only left Pakistan shell-shocked but it took away all the confidence they had — and the West Indies romped home to win by a huge margin. No one was spared, not even the might of Saeed Ajmal.
The game against Australia wasn’t a different one either. The West Indies had done well to keep them on track in a huge chase of 179 and the top-order too, had performed. It all came down to 31 needed of 12 balls and the West Indies achieved it with two balls to spare. Sammy slammed two boundaries and a six off Mitchell Starc in the penultimate over of the match and despite James Faulkner bowling two good balls, the West Indies captain didn’t get bogged down. He waited for opportunities, and on the third and the fourth ball of the final over he smashed two sixes to seal a memorable win for his side.
Both these matches proved that the West Indies are a closely knit unit, and they do not want the failures of certain individuals to affect the team as in whole. The poor form of Gayle and Samuels remained a worry throughout the tournament but Sammy, Bravo and even Lendl Simmons chipped in to prove that the team’s cause is the topmost priority. In a way, the lower middle-order of the West Indies side filled in for the poor form of the top order. At the end of the day, it was a complete team effort.
Seldom one would find that a team from outside the subcontinent is as threatening as the West Indies. They have quality spinners in their ranks and the bowling firepower was certainly among the best to take them through. The likes of Sunil Narine, Krishmar Santokie and Samuel Badree gave them enough confidence and reason why the West Indies could have successfully defended the World Cup title.
However, the struggle that their batsmen had to face while tackling spinners is a major cause of concern. A situation like the one occurred against Pakistan is not good enough, and it is certainly risky to leave things till late. The batsmen will have to derive a way to play the spinners on subcontinental tracks as the 2016 edition of the tournament will be held in India. Definitely, the Windies will turn up in the tournament as one of the favourites.
For the moment, the West Indies can go back home with their heads held high.
ICC World T20 2014 schedule: Match time table with venue details
(Devarchit Varma is a reporter with CricketCountry. He can be followed on Twitter @Devarchit)