T20 World Cup: Do-or-die match for South Africa and West Indies

West Indies' Kieron Pollard (left) with teammate Obed McCoy during a practice session at the Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Monday. (AFP)
West Indies' Kieron Pollard (left) with teammate Obed McCoy during a practice session at the Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Monday. (AFP)

Mumbai - This is the tougher of the two groups, and two defeats will mean virtual elimination



By Ayaz Memon

Published: Tue 26 Oct 2021, 2:01 AM

South Africa and West Indies lost their respective opening matches in contrasting fashion. While South Africa put up a terrific fight against Australia despite being restricted to 118, West Indies were shockingly skittled out for a paltry 55 against England.

The West Indies batting collapse was the stuff of nightmares. The defending champions are loaded with power hitters, but their performance in the opening match was abject, defying cricket logic and also skipping any sense of responsibility.

Aggressive intent at all times has defined West Indies’ cricket in this format, and with significant rewards. They are the only side to win the World Cup twice. But when conditions are adverse for a frontal assault, good teams show the discipline and wherewithal to notch up enough runs to stay competitive.

The West Indies batsmen tried to bully their way through against a strong side (England are currently no. 1 in T20 rankings). They refused to change their methods despite the fall of early wickets and paid a heavy price. Their bowlers tried hard. But how does a team defend 55?

Skipper Kieron Pollard was candid that his team had played bad cricket, which is a step up in improving in the tournament. It may have been a rare off day against England, but the remedy begins with admitting mistakes. Pollard is a hugely experienced campaigner who knows his players need to shrug off casualness in order to get their campaign back on track.

On the face of it, South Africa might seem easy opponents, but the valiant fight the Proteas put up against Australia in their first match — defending a paltry 118 — wouldn’t have been lost on the West Indies captain. The batting lacks heft without players like AB de Villiers and Faf du Plessis, which increases the onus on Quinton de Kock and some others like Aiden Markram, Heinrich Klaasen. But South Africa’s bowling is top class. Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje and Dwaine Pretorius make a formidable three-man pace attack. Each is different from the other, which means batsmen are consistently confronted with a new problem, and all have wicket-taking ability.

In spin too, the two left-arm bowlers, Tabraiz Shamsi and Keshav Maharaj, are completely dissimilar — the former is a wrist-spinner with a well disguised wrong ‘un, the latter is more orthodox, but probing.

For both teams, this is a do-or-die match. This is the tougher of the two groups, and two defeat will mean virtual elimination.

Ayaz Memon is an Indian sports writer and commentator


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