On Saturday, the West Indies suffered another another T20I series setback. It was against a visiting South African team this time. After winning the first T20I, they went on to lose the next two. Though the Men in Maroon performed well to win a must-win fourth match, they were defeated by the visitors once again in the final match, losing the series 3-2.
Many commentators predicted that with the return of superstars like Chris Gayle, Andre Russell, Dwayne Bravo, and Fidel Edwards, this would be the best team to wear the maroon jersey in recent years. When the Caribbean side won the first match by 8 wickets with five overs to spare, everything seemed to be going according to plan. From there, however, things started to go south.
Yes, when it comes to bilateral T20I series, the West Indies have always been inconsistent. Only 18 of the 49 T20I series in which the two-time world champions have competed have resulted in a victory. While they have a 58 percent win-loss record in ICC competitions, they have only won 40 percent of their bilateral series.
The Kieron Pollard-led side has had an even worse five years since the ICC World T20 2016. Only 20 of the 58 bilateral T20Is have been won by them. Furthermore, the West Indies are making the same mistakes that are costing them money.
Let’s take advantage of this occasion to examine the three primary reasons why the West Indies lost a close match to South Africa.
— Windies Cricket (@windiescricket) July 3, 2021
Three flaws in the West Indies team were identified in their match against South Africa.
1. Continued battles with spinners
The West Indies batsmen’s vulnerability to spin, particularly wrist spin, is well-known. They’ve had a lot of trouble with the turning ball in recent years, and this series has been no exception. Before the series, skipper Kieron Pollard stated that the team is focused on strengthening this part of the game, but their efforts were not obvious.
With their spin, Tabraiz Shamsi and George Linde tied up the West Indies’ powerful batting combination. Shamsi finished the series with an incredible economy rate of 4 runs per over and 7 scalps. Linde, his partner in crime, grabbed six wickets for under eight runs per over. For their efforts, Shamsi and Linde were each given a player-of-the-match award. The left-handed wrist-spinner was also named series player of the year.
In contrast, their fellow speed bowlers struggled. Throughout the series, both Kagiso Rabada and Lungi Ngidi let up more over 9 runs per over. Anrich Nortje was the sole bright spot for the South African speed bowlers, averaging just 7 runs per over while taking four wickets.
2. Inconsistency in innings progression
West Indies appeared to have a clear strategy for pacing the innings in the early stages of the series. Regardless of the match situation, they were hell-bent on hitting high speed. When they chased down 161 runs with five overs to spare in the first T20I, the strategy appeared to work. In the second T20I, though, things did not go as planned. They lost their whole middle order by opting for risky strokes, and by the conclusion of 15 overs, they were reduced to 95/5.
The team’s inability to flip the strike over, according to skipper Kieron Pollard, may have prompted them to take this method. However, after all went wrong in the second T20I, the management may have decided to go back to the drawing board. The West Indies middle-order has taken a more cautious approach in the remaining games of the series.
However, the home side’s inadequate strike rotation mixed with their struggle against the spinners resulted in the overs 7 to 15 being the least productive part of the series. Over the course of the 10 overs, they scored at a rate of 61 runs per over, losing three wickets. The West Indies’ rapid pace of nearly 10 runs per over during the powerplay and death overs was offset by the poor scoring rate.
3. The middle-order batsmen have been in poor form.
On paper, the current West Indies batting lineup is one of the best in the world. A middle-order that consists of Nicholas Pooran, Shimron Hetmyer, Kieron Pollard, and Andre Russell is capable of causing any team restless nights. However, this lineup’s potential strength did not translate into explosive performances during the series.
Over the course of the series, the four batsmen scored 256 runs at an average of slightly over 18 and a strike rate of 123. The only notable performance among them came from skipper Kieron Pollard, who scored 51* off just 25 balls in the fourth T20I to win the match.
The worst concern in the West Indies camp would be vice-captain Nicholas Pooran’s poor form. After a poor IPL performance earlier in the year, in which he scored just 28 runs in seven innings, the series against South Africa was supposed to be the start of his comeback. However, things did not turn out as planned.
West Indies will want to focus on these areas in the lead-up to the T20 World Cup in the Middle East, where they will play another 10 T20I matches.
South Africa takes the CG Insurance T20I series by 25 runs 🇿🇦
— Windies Cricket (@windiescricket) July 3, 2021