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The West Indies Have Their Task Cut Out: The Batting Needs To Tackle Afghan Spin!

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Do you remember Indian batsman got struggled against Afghan Spin in World Cup 2019?
The West Indies versus the Afghanistan contests have thus far, panned out pretty evenly.
The Windies side utterly dominated the limited-overs series blanking the sub-continental forces in all three one-dayers.
The Afghanistan side, hitting back strongly in offering staunch resistance to hitherto prevalent West Indian one-upmanship smoked the living daylights out of Pollard’s team in the shortest format of the bilateral series.
This was surprising but one might say not entirely unexpected.
The West Indies, despite being twice the world champions of T20 cricket, haven’t succeeded in putting their acts together in the shortest format of competitive cricket.

Wondering how? Here’s a matter of fact.

West Indies' struggles against Afghan spin
The likes of Rashid and Mujeeb challenged West Indies( source: the Statesman)

Since winning the World T20 in 2016, the West Indies have played a total of 36 T20 internationals.
Of these, they’ve been able to win only on 11 occasions, having lost 23 games with 2 contests stashed away down to no -results.
Where it stands at the moment, it’s all to play for in the one-off Test starting November 27 at Kolkata.
But let’s draw some understanding from what transpired at the Ekana Stadium in Lucknow, host to the final T20 international.
Depending on who you are, the verdict of the final deciding T20 held at Lucknow would read differently.
An impassioned West Indies fan would not like to quote anything other than saying, “the Windies side lost badly to Afghanistan.” A true Afghani fan, passionate like the team would appropriately suggest, “Afghanistan ensured the West Indies capitulated.” But the realist, the one who saw the manner in which the Afghanistan team dominated it’s vanquished would say nothing other than revealing a telling truth:

The West Indies’ struggles against Afghan spin were exposed

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If one saw the Second T20, held on November 16, then the chinks in the Caribbean batsmen’s armor were clearly exposed.
But on that dramatic night of Caribbean batsmen trembling, their weaknesses seemed more pronounced against medium pace as if the frontal Afghan bowling attack led by Rashid was any less threatening.
While many would put the Pollard side’s failure to read Karim Janat down to his batsmen’s sheer inexperience at having played the right-armer in the past, it wasn’t that the 21-year-old was a menacingly quick or deceptively quirky bowler. Was he?
Did he bowl with the express pace of Steyn? Did he have the movement that Shami brings time and again?
Yet, in stooping unprecedently and in a rather unaccustomed fashion- the newly-introduced Afghan force collecting 5 wickets for merely 11 runs of his 4 meant-the West Indian batting was falling apart.
Much of the action being away from the likes of Mujeeb, going wicketless of three overs and Rashid clinching barely 1 wicket off his 4, was to come back in the next game and haunt the West Indian batsmen.

Let’s understand in detail what happened in the final T20

West Indies' struggles against Afghan spin
Mujeeb threatened Windies batsmen gain (Cricket.com.au)

Challenged to chase effectively 9 more than the ask in the Second T20, the West Indian batsmen failed to chase down 157, with batsmen like Evin Lewis, Kieron Pollard, Lendl Simmons in the hut.
But apart from their evident troubles in front of Navin Ul Haq, familiar struggles in front of frontline Afghan spin attack were back to the fore.
Mujeeb, introduced deliberately into the attack first up to trouble the Windies bowlers, was right on the money.
One often wonders, if someone of the class of Mujeeb, with an economy of 5.4 in T20 Cricket, is underestimated in a set-up that has experienced matchwinners of the class of Rashid and Nabi?
But the right-arm mystery spinner succeeded in creating a web of surprise for frontline West Indies batsmen, conceding no more than 9 from his 3 overs.

We clearly saw West Indies’ struggles against Afghan spin

West Indies' struggles against Afghan spin
Windies batsmen failed to play spin (Crictracker)

From a West Indian perspective, it was heartbreaking to see Lendl Simmons, nearly double Mujeeb’s age and triple his playing experience failing to read a googly from the teenager.
Can it ever be a pleasing sight to see shattered stumps with an experienced T2o striker eclipsing under 10?
Implicit in Rahman’s success in the deciding T20 was the miserly figures that yielded 9 dot balls, going onto to expose West Indies’ struggles against Afghan spin.
It was rather unfortunate to see Evin Lewis failing to play the sweep as a tight noose was created around the already struggling Hetmyer.
But to be attacked by one tremendous spinner is one thing and to have two excellent turners of the ball coming hard at you is something quite other.
At the back end of the innings, as the required rate climbed well over 10 an over, Rashid Khan came in and bowled a dream spell, going no more than 18 from his quota of 4 overs.
He bowled a relatively straighter one to get rid of Hetmyer. One capable right-hander and one fiery left-hander perishing to spin!
West Indies' struggles against Afghan spin
Only Shai Hope could lead the fight against Afghanistan, but to vain (source: sports alert.org)

In all, the evident struggle of the West Indian batsmen was amplified by their failure to read the line of spin.
None other than Shai Hope was able to provide a sufficient answer in standing up to counter the likes of Nabi, Mujeeb and Rashid.
In proving once again, his class and the fact that playing the ball on the merit, as opposed to hitting blindingly cross-batted, Hope brought up a vital fifty by doing the basics right.
Instead of receding to the backfoot, Hope countered the spin by coming forward and hitting straight- perhaps the right thing to do.
Yet, you were left wondering whether Pollard’s stance; of simply taking singles, feeling content at giving the strike to the right-hander, particularly when the asking rate was soaring upward, was the right thing to do?
Still, if the West Indies would want to find any key takeaway it would be no more than improving their ability against spin.
If there’s anything like a redemption, you’d expect the troika of Hope, Chase, and Kraigg Brathwaite to offer some resistance against Rashid and his company in the one-off Test, slated for November 27.
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