It’s a joy to see the West Indies win a contest nowadays. What adds dollops of happiness to this spectacle is when the West Indies play to their full strength. So on May 31, 2018, as all roads in England led to Lord’s, it was an outpouring of sheer joy to not only see a West Indies powered by the likes of Gayle, Samuels, Russell, Badree take to a legendary field. But also emerge victorious in the end.
West Indies come good at Lord’s, dislodge ICC World XI
In literally reducing their counterparts- the vanquished ICC World XI- to hapless shreds of paper as if it had been crumpled badly, the West Indies reminded us once again of the powers they possess in T20 cricket.
Usually, you win a T20 contest by even daintiest of margins. A win by a wicket or two or at the most by a margin of a run or ten runs is a usual occurrence. But when you register a victory by a margin of 72 runs, you know you’ve done something special and in the process, exposed your opponents to your outrageous powers.
That is exactly what the West Indies did thanks to a magnificent display of batting by newfound talent Evin Lewis, old-guard Marlon Samuels and comeback star Andre Russell.
Not every day is Rashid Khan’s day
For starters, even as Gayle, the master of T20 cricket, took a while to get going, taking uncharacteristically more time than usual to open his account, his partner at the other end, Lewis was responsible for fireworks. In eventually compiling 58 off just 26, the belligerent Trinidadian who fired 5 fours and as many sixes plucked the life out of ICC World XI bowlers.
The picture-perfect moment of the match was Lewis lifting Rashid Khan, the constant figure among wickets- 2 on this occasion- over backward point for a massive six that went nearly seven rows back in the stands. Given that his famous contemporary Gayle also blasted the Afghan hero out of the attack in an earlier IPL game, hoisting 4 sixes in an over, is this the template to counter Khan’s growing menace, we’d have to wait and see?
Gayle’s subdued 18 off 28 was concealed by the brilliance of Marlon Samuels, who took matters into his hands as number 3. Andre Fletcher registered another customary failure, stumped by Ronchi to give Afridi his only wicket.
Samuels chips in, so does a returning Russell
Dancing down to Afridi and smoking out McClenaghan over long on, Samuels gave an impression of the familiar powers of destruction he still possesses in those 37-year-old biceps. He’d conjure 43 off just 22 at 195 before being sent back by Rashid.
But the most impressive part of the game would be comeback talent Andre Russell’s 21 off 10, the burlesque hitter striking 3 massive sixes to move a chirpy Lord’s crowd to being garrulous admirers of Windies power-hitting.
ICC World XI always knew it would be tough to collect 200 of 20 overs, 10 needed from the starting over. And their worst fears were realised when the duo of Russell and leggie Badree, the latter an outstanding marksman of T20, cleared up the top order.
ICC World XI fall like ninepins
Would you have imagined a side bolstered by names like Dinesh Karthik, Tamim Iqbal, Sam Billings and Shoaib Malik to be reduced to 8 with 4 down?
In a space of going from 1 for 4 on the board in the first over, the West Indies underpowered their opponents to 2 for 8 of 2 and ultimately 4 wickets down for 8 by the time the fourth over began. Wickets fell quicker than a rollercoaster ride approaching a descent. The only fireworks came from Thisara Perera’s bat, a 61 coming off 37 balls.
His wicket, a key one, was collected by Kesrick Williams, arguably, among the best limited over bowlers for West Indies in recent times. Interestingly, the mild-mannered and focused Williams would also clean up the lower order including Rashid Khan and McClenaghan prompting the West Indies to debate whether they can further enrich the talented medium pacer, who can surely be an asset for times to come?
What was a major disappointment particularly from the live crowd’s perspective was Afridi scoring only 11, minus a single six.
Even though the customary result read the prevalence of a side over the other, on this occasion, Cricket won and drove home an act of great selflessness, contributing to better the ravaged lives in the Caribbean due to last year’s shambolic storms and hurricanes.