Twenty20 cricket is the Windies’ most preferred version and they have shown their liking for the game’s shortest format by winning the World T20 on two occasions. Against that backdrop, they will look back on the three-match shootout against India with a great deal of disappointment, and not merely because Rohit Sharma led the hosts to a 3-0 sweep.
Even though the Windies were without some of their big names, there still was enough firepower and potential in the emerging batsmen to leave their imprint. But they let themselves down in the first two games with questionable shot selection and a distinct discomfort against the left-arm wrist spin of Kuldeep Yadav.
That their best batting performance came in the last match in Chennai, for which Kuldeep was rested, is telling. Even that, however, was not enough for them to leave Indian shores with a consolation victory.
The difference between the sides was in the performance of senior batsmen. While Rohit and Shikhar Dhawan masterminded India’s dominance, the Windies didn’t get similar output from Darren Bravo and Kieron Pollard. Especially given the lack of penetration in the bowling apart from the exception of the exciting Oshane Thomas, the visitors were heavily dependent on their batting. When that department didn’t deliver, they really had little chance.
I was again mightily impressed with Rohit’s captaincy. He is becoming a semi-regular at the job, especially in T20 cricket, and handled his troops admirably. He is proactive on the field and has clear plans, but isn’t afraid to improvise. He also continued to bat beautifully, and his fourth T20I hundred in Lucknow was one for the ages. I have seen few batsmen combine power and elegance with such nonchalance.
It was wonderful to see Shikhar get back among big runs ahead of the tour of Australia, and his partnership with young Rishabh Pant all but sealed the deal in Chennai. However, Pant must understand that what is his strength can easily lead to his downfall if he is not careful. While it is imperative to embrace natural freedom, he will be well advised to play high-percentage strokes, more so when he is adept at doing so.
Jasprit Bumrah was excellent as ever while Kuldeep is clearly among the best bowlers in white-ball cricket. What was pleasing was his control even as he unfurled his vast bag of tricks.
That the Windies batsmen had little clue which way the ball was turning was the perfect reflection of Kuldeep’s mastery over his craft.