After a vapid, hugely one-sided ODI series, can the West Indies vs Ireland T20 series 2020 offer something more promising and exciting from an Irish perspective?
From where it stands at the moment, Ireland are caught up in a West Indian maze. The visitors are prevailing in a very Caribbean universe where the odds are heavily stacked against their favor.
Recurrent batting failures, the misery of seeing an inconsistent top order amplifying the struggles instead of a unified effort contributing to a team’s cause, and the West Indian batsmen seeming in red-hot form have all contributed to persistent Irish problems that saw the Windies holding the upper hand.
Should similar fate be overturned, the Balbirnie-led team will have wake up from the self-induced state of coma. What’ll be especially exciting from the perspective of the fans on both sides will be to witness an evenly-contested series.
Should that happen, Irish batsmen will have to step up and the bowlers will have to strike early and regularly on usually batsmen-friendly Caribbean pitches, on which the West Indians have been making merry of late, with the possible exception of losing to India last year.
But several players hold the key in the Windies vs Ireland T20 series 2020. So who are these forces?
Truth be told, it’s about time that O’Brien delivered. Not only for the sake of his tired, dilapidated team. But also for the sake of his personal form, which quite honestly, hasn’t been top of the mark or anywhere close that of late.
In the recently-concluded ODI series, O’Brien was a slacker with the bat. The usually powered big strikes carrying enough power to make huge stadiums seem like children’s turf were nowhere to be seen.
The key force for the visiting side down the lower order has to deliver. The only batsman in the current line up- that has Striling and Balbirnie- with a T20 hundred against his name, can O’Brien give the Windies a run for their money?
The 35-year-old resourceful all-rounder will be among the key players to watch in the West Indies vs Ireland T20 series.
Perhaps the most important player in the entire composition of the series, someone whom the entire world will be watching closely, especially since he’s been called in for the build-up to West Indian preparation for this year’s T2o World Cup, Bravo returns to wear the maroons once again.
After having retired, the much-acclaimed T20 superstar, arguably among the most popular limited-over stars of the Caribbean side, returns to a format where he’s known for habitual excellence, not only in the West Indies but around the world.
The master of the disguised slower delivery and the hammerer of many of the world’s best bowlers, Bravo will lend experience and class and will look to build on a shining career that already boasts of 1,100 plus T20 runs(at a strike rate of 116) and 52 T20 scalps.
The crucial thing, however, will be whether the currently-trending star rewards the faith of his Windies backers?
The only shining star in an otherwise exhausted and insipid Irish line-up was the newly-appointed captain Balbirnie, who’ll definitely be among the key players to follow in the Windies vs Ireland T20 series 2020.
The young captain, who struggled in the first two ODIs against the likes of Joseph, Cottrell and Walsh Jr., came back strongly in the final ODI, at Grenada and fired a fighting 71. But was that going to be enough to curtail the Windies, we all found out later. Yet, Balbirnie’s grit and class shone through.
Luckily, in the T20 format, he’s been in fine touch, as seen of late, where, in the last Twenty-20 international, played against Namibia saw the right-hander conjure a valuable 46, ultimately a match-winning effort. The team would hope the captain’s bat continues to deliver for the waning side.
It ought to be said one of the key players to watch out for in the Windies vs Ireland T20 series 2020 would be the most dangerous batsman in the entire Caribbean set-up at the moment: Evin Lewis.
Someone who’s just plundered a very recent hundred in the ODIs, and at the back of a fighting, unbeaten 99 (at Barbados), Lewis has 2 T20 tons in the format.
If that’s not telling enough of the kind of exuberance he lends to a side composed of fashionable, powerful strikers of the ball, a strike rate of over 150 should give sufficient evidence to Ireland about the destruction the Trinidadian can wreak.
Although, for his own good, the left-hander would want to improve his batting against the slower bowlers, especially the spinners, many of whom as seen recently- Rashid Khan, Stanikzai, Kuldeep, Simi Singh- have succeeded in cramping the batsman for aroom, troubling him by bowling a tight line.
Can Lewis break free and get into his usual high-scoring ways?
Not the easiest bowlers in the current structure of the T20 game to score off, it seems Singh, who picked up 6 ODI wickets, will remain the number 1 threat for Windies batsmen to score off in the upcoming T20s.
It’s not as much down to the fact that Singh is the most menacing turner of the ball; but pretty much tied to the team’s quite visible struggles against the turn.
But to state that Singh’s only been delivering with the ball will be a bit of an understatement as he can hang around for a while down the order and especially during tough situations.
The Ireland side will count big on their main go-to spinner, alongside Delany and McBrine to counter the rampaging Windies form.
One of the most inspirational sites in Caribbean cricket of late has been the destructive batting form of newly-appointed white-ball captain Kieron Pollard.
With over 1000 T20 runs and 4 fifties plus all the relevant and versatile experience of having played a format around the world where his team usually produced powerful results, Pollard will be one of the threats for Ireland and also among the closely-watched players in the Windies vs Ireland T20s 2020.
Recently, in the thrilling 2nd ODI where a last-over finish on the penultimate ball sealed the series in his team’s favor, Pollard played perhaps the most destructive innings on Caribbean soil.
His 40 off 32 conveyed the intent and form that the 32-year-old has been in, ever since his impressive run on sub-continental pitches against Kohli’s India.
Someone who reads the flighted delivery just as well as he guides the shorter ones over the ropes with usual nonchalance, Pollard might come in handy, yet again, against both spin and pace.
The likes of Singh and McBrine would guard against the belligerent striker having recently seen what he did to their young teammate Delany.
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