By VINODE MAMCHAN
West Indies battled the odds and came up with an agonisingly close victory by three runs over Bangladesh at Sharjah on Friday, that has kept their hopes alive in the 2021 ICC World T20.
Andre Russell called on every ounce of his experience to defend 11 runs in the final over, to spark a maroon celebration that keeps West Indian interest in this tournament. The 2021 World T20 has become a lottery with the team winning the toss taking the match. Of the 10 matches to date, only two matches have been won by the team batting second and it happened for the West Indies. They lost the toss but won a match that can spark a turnaround in fortunes for them. They now have two points from three matches and will need to continue winning and hope some other results go their way to get into the semis.
Needing an injection of new blood, Roston Chase was handed his international debut and made it count getting 39 in the West Indies sub-par score of 142/7. Jason Holder one of the reserves also came out and did his thing, getting 15 not out off five balls and returning 1/22 off his four overs to help get the win.
Bangladesh chasing a tricky 143 to win got a workmanlike innings from Liton Dass with 44 off 43 balls but Dwayne Bravo got him the end, as he could not close things off for the men from the East. With 22 runs needed from the final two overs, skipper Mahamadullah Riaz struck Bravo for a mighty six down the ground. However the Santa Cruz man allowed only three runs off the next five deliveries, leaving Bangladesh to get 13 off the final over. Russell was good as the final over read 2, 1lb, 2, 2, 2, 0. The West Indies have a couple days to reflect on the win and continue to plan before they battle Sri Lanka in Abu Dhabi on November 4.
Earlier, Bangladesh won the toss and sent the West Indies in to bat in steaming conditions on the Friday afternoon in desert. The fans had lined up for quite a while to get in but they kept themselves entertained chanting and dancing outside the storied venue.
Soon they were able to cheer as West Indies opener Evin Lewis top edged an attempted on-drive to fall with the score at 12 in the third over. In came Roston Chase the man fans have been clamouring for after a wonderful CPL. His first delivery was driven beautifully through the off-side and he had opened his account in international T20 cricket.
The biggest cheer was however reserved for Mehidi Hasan who bowled the dangerous Chris Gayle comprehensively to leave West Indies tottering on 17/2. Hetmyer came and could not replicate the match awareness that was on show by Chase and left for nine with the score on 32. Pollard and Chase then dug deep and added 30 runs for the fourth wicket until Pollard left the field with an injury.
The very next ball the Cricket Gods continued to punish the West Indies as chase drove straight back only to see his shot deflected unto the path of the stumps and Andre Russell out his crease. The West Indies score 64/4 an all too familiar site. What is dangerous with this West Indies team is that there are a number of magical power hitters and even if one gets off they can get a score. Yesterday it was Pooran and he joined forces with Chase to bring the West Indies right back into the contest. His cleaning hitting got him 40 runs from just 22 balls with four sixes and one four.
He fell towards the end at 119 and the very next ball Chase returned to the dug out for a well compiled 39 off 46 balls with two fours.
Jason Holder playing his game would have made the Prime Minister of Barbados the Hon Mia Armour Mottley very proud as he hammered two sixes in the final over and with another six from the returning Pollard, the West Indies ended on a competitive 142/7 off their 20 overs.