West Indies has been one of the strongest teams to have played T20I cricket over the years. Their players who were part of that crop that helped build the team since 2005 are still playing. Chris Gayle, Dwayne Bravo, Lendl Simmons, Fidel Edwards, Kieron Pollard, Kemar Roach are a few who are still playing T20Is for West Indies since their debut in the mid-2000s.
That is a testimony to their success as they have won the World T20 editions of 2012 and 2016. They are the defending champions for the upcoming 2021 World T20 which starts on 17 October 2021.Embed from Getty Images
However, off late, they have been found wanting in their approach despite winning the T20I series against Australia and Sri Lanka as of July 2021. In between, they lost a 5-match T20I series to South Africa by a margin of 2-3.
There are a few reasons why they still don’t don the favourites tag as of now in lead to 2021 World T20:
1. Hesitancy to display strike rotation between the wickets
It is a notable fact that West Indies batsmen, despite having hard hitters who can hit the ball out of the park are hesitant to rotate strike. This accumulates dot balls and hence gives a strong sense to the opposition team to attack their desperation of lofting the ball high, only to mistime or else rattle the stumps or get leg before wicket.
This approach works well when:
- The pitch is batting friendly where the batsmen have the confidence of the ball coming straight with minimal deviation.
- If the grounds are small or medium in size, then their batsmen have greater chances of lofting the ball high for a six, even if they mistime.
- There is dew factor which helps the batsmen because of poor grip of ball held by the bowler.
But, the World T20 is set to be at UAE, where the grounds of Abu Dhabi and Dubai are way bigger than other grounds in West Indies or India. Plus, their pitches will be worn out owing to the 2nd part of IPL being played at those same venues for a month before the World T20. So, the pitches might offer a vicious turn in the 1st match of the WT20 itself. Also, there will be a notable absence of the dew factor as UAE is geographically near a desert area.
2. Ageing players of West Indies team
The average age of the West Indies squad that fielded against Australia in the recent T20I series was 31 years. This is at least 3 years higher than the average age of 28 years. True that there is a blend of youth and experience, but the age gaps are too large. Hence older players struggle to give their best while fielding along with fitness.Embed from Getty Images
3. Poor batting against spinners
West Indies duly struggled against Tabraiz Shamsi, the left-arm wrist-spinner during the recent T20I series against South Africa. He picked up 7 wickets at a miserly economy of 4 in 20 overs bowled.
With slow pitches, the WI batsmen would struggle should they fail to tackle spin bowling, especially against subcontinent teams.Embed from Getty Images
West Indies are lucky not to have a subcontinent team in their group should Sri Lanka not qualify for the Super-12 round. However, they will have to prepare accordingly for the World T20 given the conditions. I would rather say that they are dark horses for the 2021 World T20.
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