Can Jonny Bairstow remain this consistent, or is it going to be Chris Gayle's day out? (Image courtesy: Getty)
Can Jonny Bairstow remain this consistent, or is it going to be Chris Gayle’s day out? (Image courtesy: Getty)

Cricket needs a stronger West Indies, they say. The baffling riddle called West Indies cricket hit a new low on Tuesday. They will play World Cup Qualifiers next year. The World Cup champions in the first two editions are languishing at the ninth spot in the ICC ODI Rankings. Their defeat drew cheers in Sri Lanka. But this is about West Indies…

Their domestic T20 cricket is amongst the best. They are the T20 World champions. They smash the likes of India and England to pulp in T20Is; then they lose to Afghanistan. They manage to defend a below-200 target against India, win a Test in England and at the same time not qualify for major tournaments, by losing to the likes of Afghanistan.

Just when Chris Gayle began losing his form, they felt he would resurrect their fortunes. While West Indies cricket’s baffling ways continue, let us look at the key battles for the second ODI against England at Trent Bridge, Nottingham.

Moeen Ali vs Evin Lewis:

Lewis can do no wrong when it comes to T20s. He clears ropes at will, scores centuries, plunder records, but this Dr Jeykll turns Mr Hyde when it is ODIs and the reasons are beyond logic. His average of 36 in T20Is drops 10 points, and the career strike rate of over 155 drops to a disappointing half. However, this left-hander has been in some form. Moeen Ali outfoxed him in the first ODI. Lewis must be eyeing to return the favours.

What an in-form Lewis can do the spinners? Ask the likes of Ravindra Jadejas and Ravichandran Ashwins. Here, we are only talking Moeen.

Ben Stokes vs Jason Holder:

There’s a high chance that both these young and highly talented gentlemen will face each other. Stokes, at the moment, can do no wrong it seems. He picked 3 wickets and smashed an unbeaten 10-ball 23. Meanwhile, it was Holder’s unbeaten 33-ball 41 that helped West Indies breach the 200-mark. He bowled only 3 overs and gave away 18. Recently, he won West Indies a game against India with the ball. As a captain, he should look to bowl more. He is the strike bowler; he has to believe in the bowler in him and target for Stokes.

Shai Hope vs Adil Rashid:

Spinners can have a good time at Trent Bridge. Rashid will try to make the most of it. The junior Hope has scaled in reputation. Each time he takes the guard, he draws attention of the entire Caribbean and others from the cricket fraternity. Hope’s farming of strike against the wrist spinner will hold the key for West Indies’ middle-order.

Jonny Bairstow vs Chris Gayle:

Well, two amusing yet distinctively different characters opened the innings for their respective sides on Tuesday. While Bairstow was filling in for the out-of-form Jason Roy, the experienced Gayle was making a return to a format he once reined.

Gayle started carnage; it lasted 27 balls, and he got 37. Bairstow finished it with a 97-ball 100 not out. It was Bairstow’s maiden while Gayle has breached the mark in this format 22 times. The firepower at the top will play a major role in determining the triumphant.