Stuart Law optimistic about his “improving” West Indies outfit
West Indies head coach Stuart Law. (Getty Images)

Following West Indies’ 1-3 series loss to India, coach Stuart Law pointed out that it was the team’s inability to cope with pressure and seize the crucial moments that let them down. West Indies fought well in the first three games, tying the second ODI in Rajkot and even surprising India by 43 runs in the next match at Vizag.

But what should have been a platform to rise even further, the wheels came off for the West Indies. Their batting, their biggest strength in the tournament, and one that helped them post two 300-plus totals and one 17 short of it, fell apart in the final two matches. West Indies were bowled out for 153, while chasing 378 in the fourth ODI in Mumbai and were even worse in the final, where batting first, they were skittled for 104.

“The guys they have got a lot of skills, every single one of them. But it is also temperament and decision making under pressure. Once you walk out there, there are 40,000 people screaming, you are up against one of the best teams going around,” Stuart Law said during the post-match conference.

“Pressure does funny things, it is about living it. You still don’t understand what pressure is… then the enormity of the situation, the enormity of the circumstances they are playing in over here sometimes can get the better of them. There is pressure everywhere… you are scrutinised, on the street, at the hotel foyer, at the cricket ground.”

Law mentioned how playing India has been a learning experience for this young West Indies side. The promise shown by this team has been inspiring and it can be gauged by the fact that they made India sweat in the second and third ODIs. In fact, despite ending up on the losing side, West Indies’ courageous effort was lauded by their opponents – first, by India captain Virat Kohli and then by coach Ravi Shastri.

“They are learning all the time… there is no better team to watch, no better batsmen to watch than Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma, how they go about their work… and the way they (Indians) bowl… Bumrah has been outstanding since he’s come back in. Their spinners. Jadeja has been hard work. Kuldeep continues to mess with their minds,” Law said.

“It is not the skill thing. It is just choosing the right option at the right time, if we can do that as you saw in game two and game three, we can play really good cricket, it is a matter of getting through that situations.”

With the World Cup being on every team’s mind, Law admitted that there are plenty of places up for grabs for the players to make it to the World Cup squad. Chris Gayle and Evin Lewis pulled out of the India series, but expect the two to book tickets to England next year. With West Indies next taking on an in-form Bangladesh, players would want to make the most of their opportunities.

“We had players pull out before the tour started. It wasn’t planned the way it was. But the youngsters that came in and the guys that got the opportunity at the top of the order I think it is an opportunity missed for these guys,” Law added.

“I am not saying there is another opportunity. There are three games in Bangladesh in two-weeks’ time. I would have thought that playing here in India on some of the batting paradise we have seen, would have been a few more runs scored.”

West Indies captain Jason Holder has been vocal about the promise shown by Shai Hope and Shimron Hetmyer and Oshane Thomas, and the three will be crucial for West Indies during the next eight months’ time. With more youngsters turning up and grabbing their opportunities with both hands, Law is hopeful of West Indies cricket thriving.

“Shai Hope has showed his class and skill and as has young Hetmyer. Jason Holder still proves he is one of our better batsmen and also one of our better bowlers. Obed McCoy who was due to play the game but pulled out this morning due to a side injury… he took wickets through the middle. He is still raw, learning his craft but showed some promise,” Law said.

“Oshane Thomas showed some real pace in swinging the ball. The one thing that really stands out is that come Pune we played some good cricket and Vizag we had a great game of cricket. Those two games took a lot out of us. The last two games we had no petrol left in the tank. We have to address fitness and strength areas.”