An opening run-stand of 133 between Lewis and Simmons at the back of a paltry Irish total enabled the Windies to draw level with Ireland in a 1-1 series outing at St. Kitts after the second game was washed out, yielding a no-result.
In so doing, among the key highlights from the final T20 between West Indies and Ireland 2020 was Pollard’s team rising to the fore, after having been knocked down in the series opener rather surprisingly.
At a time where Paul Stirling’s belligerent fifty in the opening game of the 3-match series threatened to hamper the West Indies, the second game’s no result ensuring Ireland’s unassailability, the hosts came back strongly to win the much-needed final game of the series.
This time the free-flowing Irish batting as seen in the record powerplay score in the Grenada contest was kept in check.
As captain Pollard and experienced compatriot Bravo triggered a batting collapse even as Kevin O’Brien got the useful runs up top, all Ireland could manage was a lowly 138.
Was that ever going to be tough for a side fielding some of the most brutish strikers of the ball in Pooran, Lewis, Pollard the captain himself, along with the now-in-form Simmons- it was anybody’s call.
While the hosts had the last smile in skittling away with a timely win, the 9-wicket loss to the West Indies definitely begged the question: if all’s right with Irish batting?
For now, it’s a question captain Balbirnie, who looked in rhythm in the ODIs will have to answer with caution.
That said, what were the key highlights from the final T20 between West Indies and Ireland 2020?
Evin Lewis and Lendl Simmon’s Record-Stand
Lewis and Simmons attacked from the start and got going right away (India TV- Hindi news)
78 of West Indies’ 140 runs in their successful run chase came by way of sixes. Do the math and you figure that Lewis and Simmons plundered 13 sixes among them- a terrific effort especially at the back of a shaky loss in the opening T20 contest
Some of these sixes were hit far and wide over mid-wicket and long-off regions, others, most noticeably came off the bat of the in-form and consistent Evin Lewis, behind the square leg region.
While Lewis fired another handy and another very fastly accumulated 46 off 25 balls, his partner at the other end, Simmons was well on his way putting McCarthy and Simi Singh immediately under pressure.
The opening run-stand that was the key lynchpin in Windies’ successful run-chase, an effort that enabled them to avoid what might have been another embarrassing loss to Ireland (which would’ve seen the World T20 champions losing at home to not the strongest side), saw the conjuring of 133 runs inside the 11th over.
If that doesn’t give the idea about the red-hot form of two Trinidadian batsmen then what will ever? The 133-run opening stand is also West Indies’ best effort against Ireland, and the third-highest all-time T20 partnership.
Hapless Ireland Fail To Capitalize
Ireland didn’t get their batting together (source: YouTube highlights clip)
Barring Kevin O’Brien who had already played a key part in the opening T20 at Grenada, there was no other batsman who could come to Ireland’s rescue in the T20 where it all mattered.
Following up his strong 48 in the 1st game of the series, familiar ball-basher Kevin O’Brien compiled a useful 36 off just 18 balls as he succeeded in giving the Windies bowlers early scare showing immense power and that fine ability to seek the gaps.
But it was the furthest any Irish batsmen would go as quick wickets fell in the form of Sterling (11), Delany (6) and Tector (1) with Bravo and Pollard ensuring quick felling of wickets, a position from which the visitors would never recover.
While Balbirnie hung out with a useful 28, it was never enough as the others fell cheaply in front of an inspired Windies bowling display, among the big highlights from the Final T20 between West Indies and Ireland 2020.
Simmons Finally Makes It Count
Simmons was in sublime touch (Cricket@22yards)
Simmons was the clear and standout performer with the bat, clearly, the most destructive man in the contest, someone who alone accounted for 91 of the 140 runs that his team scored.
Among the big highlights of the final T20 between West Indies and Ireland 2020 was the 34-year-old’s knock, perhaps another brutish exhibition of the right-hander’s prominence in the shortest format, a kind of inning that one saw back in the day at the Wankhede during the semis of the World T20 2016.
Hitting big and mighty sixes, 10 of them in fact, Simmons may just have resuscitated his fledgeling T20 career with a career-best knock of an unbeaten 91 off just 40 deliveries, and may have even rewarded the faith of his backers who’ve given him a second wind to succeed at the international stage.
He was quick to read the line of the ball, severe to the shorter and flighted deliveries and unsparing to anything bowled fuller.
In a fierce exhibition of a fine match-winning knock that resulted in his 7th T20 fifty, Simmons knock was on-par with Stirling’s heroics in the opening contest, wherein the feisty Irishman plundered 95.
Pollard And Bravo’s Exploits
Ireland’s batting let them down and Bravo’s constant wickets hurt their cause (YouTube highlights clip)
Ever since captain Pollard has been assigned the skipper of the limited-overs format, the team, it appears, has risen in its stature in white-ball cricket.
Not only was a series win- as achieved in the ODI format- vital from a West Indies point of view, but much-needed as the team enjoys the status of being big destructive forces.
But while the opening game provided a shocker of a result for a side whose bowlers never quite figured a way to keep the Irish quiet, the final game saw a more cautious and successful approach by the two most experienced medium pacers in the form of captain Pollard and the returning Bravo.
Sharing 6 wickets among them at 3 apiece, giving away just 36 overs from 7 overs, Pollard bowling full 4 overs, the Trinidadian duo emerged as the spearheads of a contest where Cottrell and Walsh Jr. didn’t quite have much say in dictating the terms.
But thanks to his awesome controlled bowling spell that took the key wickets of O’Brien, Delany, and Tector, Pollard was the stand out performer exerting pressure through a collection of key wickets and the compilation of dot balls.