Kieron the key
Fast-bowling fire power from Fidel Edwards, free-scoring top-order batting from Dwayne Smith and Johnson Charles, stingy Sunil Narine spin bowling and, of course, Kieron Pollard’s six-hitting.
These four factors will be at the forefront of the West Indies’ strategy to beat Australia in today’s second Digicel Twenty20 International at Kensington Oval and square the two-match series at 1-1.
With steady ticket sales all week, a sellout crowd of more than 10 000 will flock to “The Mecca” where the pitch is expected to provide more pace and bounce than the previous one in St Lucia where the Windies lost by eight wickets on Tuesday.
The big-hitting Pollard, fresh from a maiden T20 International half-century off just 20 balls, the fastest by a West Indian following two breathtaking One-Day centuries in the space of five matches, will hold the key to West Indies’ batting.
“It is Twenty20 and obviously, you just need one or two players to perform for the team to win. Shane Watson and Michael Hussey had an outstanding day for Australia. That’s how it goes in T20, whoever plays the better on the day wins, so hopefully we can give a better account of ourselves,” Man of the Moment Pollard said after having a short batting session in the nets yesterday.
But the powerfully-built right-hander was philosophical about a promotion in the batting order to maximize his scoring. He got 54 not out when the overs ran out in the first T20.
“We can sit here and think about that and I can say, I want to go up the order. People would say you need to bat higher but it could be a situation where I go up the order and actually don’t perform and it don’t work out well for the team,” he said.
“These things happen in T20 cricket. I think you just need to have the right persons batting at the right time and each and every individual be ready to go in at any point in time. So if it means me going up the order, it is all well and good but people at the back end, would have to come up trumps as well,” he contended.
“It is all a matter of timing and once you get the timing and everything goes well, it looks good and if it doesn’t, it doesn’t look good, so you have to go with it and see what is required at that point in time and whatever is required, you go with the flow,” he added.
There could be another change in the batting order with the more experienced Dwayne Bravo switching places with newcomer Nkrumah Bonner, who laboured over 24 off 33 balls batting at No 3.
Barbadians will also be hoping that “homeboy” Smith gets going along with fellow opener Charles, capitalize on the six-over batting power-play and give the team a rousing start, a situation of which Pollard said they were aware.
“It has been no secret that the top order has not really been firing for us, even in the One-Day series and now the first T20,” Pollard said but reckoned everyone needs to come to the party.
“We are different individuals but everyone must come in and give of their best. That’s how it goes in cricket, some people have good days and you have bad days but you have to accept when they have down time in their play, the ones who are making runs and performing just need to continue and give the team that strength and impetus,” he reasoned.
Danza Hyatt, one of the 13 non-contracted players, who was under consideration for selection for the limited-overs segment of the series, has been surprisingly called up for the out-of-touch Darren Bravo despite a lean run in West Indies colours last year and for Jamaica in this year’s Caribbean T20.
In four T20 Internationals, Hyatt had scores of 14, 14 not out, 28 and two while in the Caribbean T20, he was out for six, two, 19, 14 and 12.
It is left to be seen whether he would be selected ahead of Marlon Samuels, whose flat off-spin bowling is an asset as he showed in his very last T20 with figures of 4-0-14-2 against Bangladesh to follow a knock of 58.
The fiery Edwards should replace left-arm spinner Garey Mathurin, who was flayed for 33 in his four overs on his St Lucian home turf.