India’s score of 190 at Sabina Park with short boundaries and a flat pitch was “20 runs short”, according to West Indies T20 captain Carlos Brathwaite, who lauded the efforts of quick bowlers Kesrick Williams and Jerome Taylor. The hosts chased down the total with a blistering 53-ball hundred from Evin Lewis, who hit the winnings runs to seal their nine-wicket win.
“It was a very good wicket, but we did very well to keep them to 190, especially after the start they had,” Brathwaite said. “Kesrick [Williams] had two very important strikes in the sixth over and then when Jerome Taylor came back and finished, he brought us back into the game. We all thought that 190 was 20 runs short and then the batters proved their worth.”
West Indies head coach Stuart Law was expecting a score of 240-250 from India after seeing a rapid start from their openers. “The way the Indians started their batting innings on a very good wicket with fast outfield and small boundaries, I think we did really well to contain them to 190,” he said. “To be honest, at one stage I was looking at 240-250. We didn’t start very well with the ball but we finished very well. It was very difficult to bowl with the new ball, the spinners weren’t getting much turn with the new ball and it was a very easy-paced pitch. If you slightly missed your line or length, you’d go for four or six. But towards the end of their innings, we saw how well they (West Indies) bowled and managed to contain India. Keeping them under 200 was an outstanding effort.
“To only chase 190 on a small ground and flat wicket, it’s going to take some chasing but we saw one of the better innings I’ve ever seen in T20 cricket. Evin Lewis, hats off.”
Lewis scored his second T20 hundred against India in only three matches, after he had blasted 100 off 49 balls in Florida last August. His century on Sunday was studded with 12 sixes and six fours, and Brathwaite said Lewis’ unconventional shots make him stand out.
“He’s a very positive young man, he hits the ball very very cleanly,” Brathwaite said. “Another good thing about him is once he gets in, he goes all the way. He has two hundreds and a 90, something like that. He doesn’t stop short, he doesn’t make 20s or 30s.
“Once he gets in, he’s very difficult to stop and he doesn’t give his wicket away. I don’t know what’s the secret, but looking from the outside, he’s a very unconventional player. There are players who are conventional and hit the ball hard, and he’s the other way around. He hits the ball sweetly and cleanly, he also hits them in some funny areas that fielding teams take a while to get accustomed to. But when they are trying to get accustomed to, he’s already 50-odd and heading to 90 or 100.”
While Law lauded Lewis’ century too, he also said the batsman – who scored all of 67 runs in four ODIs against India – could have found it easier mentally to play more freely in the T20 format as compared to 50-over cricket.
“Just the power hitting – how he picked his targets, he hit with the wind, he played all the right shots, played good cricket shots as well,” Law said. “There wasn’t any mad swings of the bat, they were all controlled and controlled aggression which we know Evin Lewis can do. I’d love to see him do that in the 50-over format, that will be one hell of a way to start a 50-over game as well. But credit to the young man, he hasn’t got a big score yet this summer and to finish it off in style like that was a great achievement.
“I try not to talk too much to the players; they know their games. We just try and work out options for them and areas where they are very very strong. Batting for me is all about getting your body in a position to hit the ball in the area you are strong at, and Evin did that today beautifully. It might be [a] mental [shift] to carry that sort of mindset into the T20 game. Also there is pressure if you get out having a big woosh, in a 50-over game, in the first three overs – you look like a fool. I just want him to go out there and play his game and if he does get out in the first five overs, it’s no issue for me because if he gets to a good start he can take the game away.”
West Indies, the reigning T20I champions, put behind them a 3-1 ODI series loss and were boosted by the inclusion of star players such as Chris Gayle, Kieron Pollard and Sunil Narine for the one-off T20. Brathwaite said their presence boosted their confidence but they were putting in a lot of hard work in ODIs too, where they are ranked ninth and struggling to gain automatic qualification for the 2019 World Cup.
“Being able to rub shoulders with them (big players) and being able to ask their opinions, especially in crucial times, even to practice with them is a privilege. It gives the guys a little more confidence but any day with them in the team and not performing, the good thing is they (youngsters) take the mantle upon themselves, be professional – not just off the field but also on it. Whenever we go on the park, we always try to give a 100%.
“As a young captain I just want the guys to express themselves. It’s not too many instructions from me; once we have a team plan we go there and try to execute it. The message from me is: always express yourself.”