Bangladesh secured an emphatic win over the West Indies as they recorded the second-highest run chase in World Cup history. Here’s what we learned from a memorable encounter at The County Ground in Taunton.
Resorting to short-pitched bowling worked very well for the Men in Maroon in the first three games of the tournament. 11 wickets at an average of 14.63 and an economy rate of 5.11 testify that. Since then, banging the ball into the pitch has only got them three wickets at an average of 88.66 and an economy rate that’s north of eight.
That’s not it. Nearly 60% of the total deliveries bowled by West Indies’ pace attack have been short – the most for any team. Not even 10% of their total overs have been spin overs – the lowest for any team (statistics by CricViz).
In an era wherein the importance of spin bowling has only burgeoned, the fact that Jason Holder’s side hardly ever bother to use spin options is a damning indictment of everything that is wrong with them. They’re not only predictable but they are reluctant to learn their lessons as well. Against Bangladesh, 55% of their deliveries were short and went for 8.44 runs an over. The ones pitched slightly fuller, on the other hand, cost just 6.42 per over. It’s not that tough to assess what’s working for you and what’s not, is it? Could Holder, or perhaps the coaching team not notice what was so clear to everyone watching?
West Indies only have four more games to try and pull off a miracle to progress to the semi-finals. If they haven’t learned from a shambolic showing yesterday, they may as well pack their bags already.
Beating South Africa and West Indies isn’t as impressive as the manner in which Bangladesh beat them is. They uncharacteristically held their nerves in the opening game and they barely broke a sweat the other day when asked to chase down 322 – their highest ever.
They weren’t that bad against New Zealand and England either. The former just about managed to get over the line while the hosts just showed them why they’re the favourites to lift the World Cup. Who knows if they have would have beaten Sri Lanka had rain not intervened. That would have made things rather interesting.
Bangladesh next play Australia, followed by Afghanistan, India and Pakistan. At least two of those fixtures are winnable, and you cannot entirely rule out the possibilities in the other two either. Stranger things have happened in cricket. Keep an eye on what England do against Australia, India and New Zealand, too.
In a team full of passion and panache and potential, the two players who stand out are Chris Gayle and Andre Russell (stating the obvious here). Sheldon Cottrell, Shai Hope, Jason Holder and Nicolas Pooran et al are all talented, yes, but they do not have the same stature or the same match-winning ability as Gayle and Russell do. They are this team’s Galacticos, and so far, both of them have failed to do anything of note.
Chris Gayle has scored just 107 runs in four innings, 50 of which came in the chase against Pakistan. Russell, who had an unbelievable time in the IPL and was expected to light up the World Cup has fired a blank as well, particularly with the bat. He has 36 runs in three innings and five wickets. West Indies do not need Russell the bowler as much as they need the batsman, but that side of him has been completely absent, as it so often is on the biggest stage.
The World T20 champions might not be overly reliant on the duo but they do need them to fire on all cylinders to be able to rediscover the magic and the fear-factor that we have only ever associated with West Indies.