The West Indies. Perhaps the cricketing world’s foremost adjective of unpredictability? The West Indies and their thrills, exhilarations, goosebumps and don’t forget, the unexpected blips. Few teams bring so many divergent emotions and in such a high decibel as the Windies. The Women’s side, a keen lot led by a truly inspirational captain, is no different.
Anyone guessing just how that is should simply look at the ongoing Women’s World Cup’s table toppers and one among the three is the Windies women.
And that’s the thing about the Windies women- isn’t it? They can paint the world’s most picturesque artwork one-handed with awe-inspiring beauty on any given day. And when it’s not their day, they can engage in self harm, like breaking into a tiny little pieces as if someone intentionally dropped an opulent crystal vase.
For a team that had, never previously before, beaten New Zealand in New Zealand in an ODI did exactly that and chose the perfect occasion to rectify a massive wrong: the ongoing World cup. Next, they beat England, the defending champions in a manner few would’ve expected.
How Windies Women have been so far
They ran and ran and collected wild enthralling catches in the outfield. They suspended their bodies into thin air and engaged in nail-biting acrobats to dismiss opponents. They enforced the erroneous accumulation of dot balls and frustrated their opposition. They also danced down the wicket to flay opponents by hammering sixes.
So far, the Windies women have been thunderbolt and lightning.
What meeting India will mean
But tomorrow is a whole new day. They’re up against a really staunch opponent. It’s an aggressor that they’re set to clash with. Few teams bring the elan and might as India. For a team that’s desperate to bounce back, having just been dented by the White Ferns, expect the Windies Women to face an Indian attack that’ll pounce on them full throttle.
It’ll be strokemaker versus strokemaker, timing against timing and intimidation that could perhaps leave hearts gushing and nerves wracking.
Past record v India
And what doesn’t help is that, yet again, they face an opponent whom they’ve not beaten in previous three ODI world cup visits.
In 2013, the now-retired Thirush Kamini crushed the team by way of a 100. Goswami and Nagarajan did the rest with the ball. In 2017, Mandhana took the charge and stroked the Windies women out of the park with a belligerent 106*.
From a historical perspective, it doesn’t help to note that Windies Women have beaten India on only five occasions of the twenty five ODIs they’ve played.
With success of such diminutive size, factually speaking, the odds for a Windies women victory on March 12 against India would be imagining a mouse brushing aside an elephant.
But then every Goliath has met a David.
While on paper and stat, the West Indians may not pack a punch, they can definitely deliver a counter attacking performance at Seddon Park should the unit play as a collective and not rely on individual heroics to save the day.
Recipe for success
From the two games seen so far, there are only three batters who’ve come to light with performances to reckon with. The foremost name in the Windies camp is that of Hayley Matthews, who’ll be such a key tomorrow; having stroked her way to 164 runs so far. Then there’s Shemaine Campbelle, fresh from a fighting 66 against Heather’s knights.
Chedean Nation, rather refreshingly, has been producing runs down the order, and in so doing, has been doing a Brittany Cooper with the bat.
What the Windies women will need and in no uncertain terms will be either a Dottin or Stafanie show. Ideal if both can perform with the bat.
Stafanie or Dottin or both?
Though, if you were to note, an unlikely trend has emerged in the world cup. In none of the teams barring Australia have two of the finest strokemakers made runs in tandem. When Javeria Khan got out cheaply against India, Bismah could only go a bit further. When Dottin made a thirty one against England, Stafanie Taylor got out for a duck. The “Smash Sisters” Bates and Devine couldn’t forge a stand worth noting versus the West Indies. While Devine stayed put and belted a ton, Bates departed much too early.
Only Lanning and Haynes have stuck out for the Southern stars so far. So the big question is- can Deandra (43 runs so far) and Stafanie produce the goods with the bat and hold the fort versus what’ll be an exasperating challenge in facing the iconic Goswami, the rising Vastrakar and the ever-shining Gayakwad?
Nonetheless, from a fan perspective, the Hayley Matthews show must go on. But in order to see the Windies women’s big three splash out runs, they’ll have to bring their A game against spin.
That’s precisely where there lies a problem. The Windies aren’t particularly marvellous against spin. In the game against England, a third of their wickets fell to spin, and as a matter of fact, to Ecclestone’s left-armers. The team couldn’t eek out anything more than the twenty it was able to score off the lanky spinner’s ten overs.
The possible chink in Windies’ armour
Should a Rajeshwari Gayakwad stand tall, seven wickets already in the World Cup, the Windies will have to play a spiderman to find their way out of the web of spin.
It’ll require them to be clever instead of just being powerful. It’ll require them to be excellent navigators instead of just being aggressive.
And that’s just one of the issues the Windies women will be wise enough to embrace. The other being that of the extras. So far, from the two games, they’ve conceded 32 extras, 20 alone in the contest against England.
The ideal plan that the Windies think tank, a congregation of wise cricketing brains- Taylor, Dottin, Anisa and Hayley- will like to have is to make India work hard for every run instead of offering freebies. But it’s easier said than done.
Their problems will also likely be a Harmanpreet Kaur, who’s peaking at the right time. That valiant fifty that couldn’t get India over the line against the White Ferns will be something that the right-hander would be keen to make amends for. Then there’s the dashing duo of Mithali and Smriti, both of whom missed out on runs in the previous contest.
What’s certain is that the Windies Women will enter the contest as the more confident side. But the trick will be to not mix self-belief with irrational exuberance. Build stands. Make runs. Go for shots. Also play the patient game.
The chance to redeem their inglorious record against India in World cups is an excellent one. But it’s the choice that the Windies have that will define them tomorrow- whether to make a beautiful artwork or induce self harm by cracking into pieces (reading cracking under pressure).