West Indies' Risky Strategy Could Cost Them in the WT20 Semi-Finals

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West Indies' Risky Strategy Could Cost Them in the WT20 Semi-Finals
Aijaz Rahi

The West Indies’ batsmen have been playing something of a dangerous game during the World Twenty20 so far.

Despite the destructive hitters at the top of their order, they have instead been painfully slow in scoring in the opening 15 overs of their innings.

Then, in the final five overs, all hell has broken loose and they have managed to stack up enough runs to put themselves in a winning position.

But could they not just get on with it a bit sooner, especially as this strategy could come unstuck in the tournament’s final stages?

In each of their matches in this year’s World T20, the West Indians have never scored more than 61 in the Powerplay overs, a mark they reached against Australia in the Super 10.

Against India, they scored just 24 in the opening six overs, while earlier today against Pakistan they were 39-2 at the end of the Powerplay.

This curious strategy then continued for another 10 overs, as the West Indian top order seem content to try and build a platform rather than go for all-out aggression.

Their run rate therefore never gets much above six or seven per over—sometimes staying lower than that—before the final five overs.

Then, in the closing stages, led by Dwayne Bravo and captain Darren Sammy, they unfurl a wide array of shots, take the attack to the opposition bowlers and manage to reach a high total.

This does place those two in particular, and their colleagues in the lower order, under a tremendous amount of pressure, but looking at those above them it does not have to be that way.

Openers Chris Gayle and Dwayne Smith have both shown themselves to be enormously capable of explosive starts with the bat, especially against the new ball.

Both are known all over the world (Gayle in particular) for having the ability to carve bowling attacks all over the ground and help build enormous totals.

Below them come Lendl Simmons and Marlon Samuels, two enormously talented players in T20 cricket who have enormous experience in the format.

In all, it is a formidable top four for bowlers to contend with, and you would think that they would be more than capable of opening their shoulders and hitting boundaries almost immediately.

Their current strategy is definitely one that could go wrong at any time, especially in the semi-final against Sri Lanka and their well-rounded bowling attack.

It seems unimaginable, but the top order could leave the lower order with far too much to do in the closing stages, something that would be incredibly difficult against Lasith Malinga in particular.

His toe-crushing yorkers and consistent bowling at the death could then strangle any potential counter-attack from the West Indies and leave them well short of a winning total.

We also saw against India how this strategy can fall down, as the Indians were able to strangle any hopes of a revival and keep their opponents to an infinitely reachable 129-7 from their 20 overs.

With all that said, however, this strategy may pay dividends for the defending champions, even against some of the finest bowlers in the world.

It worked well against Australia, as the West Indies chased 179 to win and did so after being set a solid if unspectacular platform by the top order.

The Australians may not be much of a force in T20 cricket, but with a bowling attack that included Mitchell Starc, Glenn Maxwell and James Faulkner, Sammy and Bravo’s achievement is not to be sneezed at.

Cricket is constantly evolving, and the West Indies’ current strategy may well carry them into the final and even to a possible defence of their title.

Only time will tell, but given the resources at their disposal, it could prove to be incredibly risky and may cost them further progression in this year’s tournament.

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