The India-West Indies encounter at Perth produced a tight contest, with bowlers from both sides putting up a dominant performance. When India lost Ravindra Jadeja with the score at 134, the match could have gone either way, and seemed set for a tight finish. This is why it was extremely disappointing to see the game meander India's way, thanks to some bizarre tactics from Jason Holder. There is really no explanation for the fact that the West Indian captain bowled Dwayne Smith and Marlon Samuels in the last few overs even as the likes of Jerome Taylor, Kemar Roach and Holder himself had some up their sleeves. It cost West Indies the game.
Yes, Holder is young and extremely raw to international cricket. The captaincy seems like a misfit with him. Still, it is difficult to fathom than Holder could not figure out something as simple as bowling his best pacers towards the end instead of the part-timers. Smith did get the wicket of Suresh Raina, but he did not put any pressure on the Indians thereafter. On the contrary, Taylor had bowled brilliantly at the start of the innings. Not only did he stifle the Indian innings, but also dismissed the two openers very early. West Indies might still have lost the game, but their best chance would have been to allow Taylor to complete his 10 wickets.
In the wake of the thrashing they had taken against South Africa, it was important for West Indies to come up with a defiant show against the Indians. But, it must be said that they were highly disappointing with the bat. It is no secret that the conditions did favour the pacers on the day. Still, West Indies could have done with some better patience from their top and middle order, which was literally blown away. Under present circumstances, it seems like West Indies will only succeed with the bat in case either Chris Gayle or Marlon Samuels fire. That hasn't been the case in the last two games, as a result of which their batting has suffered.
What West Indies need to sit down and do is chalk out a proper plan for both setting up or chasing down a score. As of now, it is just hit or block for them. The problems for West Indies begin right at the top with Dwayne Smith. The opener averages 18 in ODI cricket, and his lack of skills have been evident in his batting struggles. No doubt Smith is a clean hitter of the ball, but his woes at the top of the order cannot be ignored. Perhaps, West Indies can think of swapping the places of Lendl Simmons and Smith. Simmons has a good record at the top of the order, and perhaps, Smith can be utilised better lower down the order.
The coming matches will also be a test for Gayle and Samuels. Although West Indies' two most experienced batsmen got massive scores in the match against Zimbabwe, it has been their only contribution of note. West Indies will be looking for much more from the duo in the coming games. The contribution of all-rounders Darren Sammy and Andre Russell will also be crucial. Although they have made their presence felt at different times during the event, West Indies cannot afford their performances to slip. From what has been evident so far, Holder is clearly too raw for captaincy. It is crucial he gets some tips from seniors like Gayle and Denesh Ramdin, else like again India, other matches might also slip away.
--By A Cricket Analyst