The rippling muscles beneath the maroon shirts aren’t for show. The upper-body strength of the West Indies batsmen is worth marvelling in the death overs. They can hit the ball hard and long, longer than most teams have dreaded, and India got a reality check.
Some matches before, England had got the first taste of the damage West Indies could inflict in the final overs. Between their only loss and the final though, England are a transformed bowling unit in the death overs.
Against New Zealand, England conceded just 20 runs in their last four overs. Needing 40 off the last 24 balls, Sri Lanka could only muster 29. In must-win situations, England bowlers have shown the maturity to hold their nerve, something they would try and repeat against the West Indies. For England captain Eoin Morgan, Ben Stokes and Chris Jordan are his go-to bowlers.
“The last game we went for 20 runs in four overs, two from Stokes and two from Jordan. I thought they were clear in their thoughts and executed very well. Having that in your side is another string to your bow. Not a lot of sides have great death bowlers. Past champions stick out, someone like Lasith Malinga, but he has been injured and nobody has really stood out as an unbelievable death bowler. But we have those two,” said Morgan.
In the semifinal, West Indies again showed they are more than a one-man show. To defy a partisan crowd and score 45 runs in the last four overs against the hosts is possibly the biggest proof of power-hitting in this tournament. What clicks for West Indies is their deep batting line-up where Carlos Brathwaite, who attracted a winning bid of R4.2 crore from Delhi Daredevils this IPL auction, comes at No 8 or 9.
“Even before we played West Indies in the group stages, I was quite firm that Chris Gayle is not just the West Indies team. I think India witnessed that, with Lendl Simmons’ innings,” said Morgan.
Both captains made a passing reference to the size of the ground in Saturday’s press conference. Sammy said it was a chasing ground. If that’s the case, he is backing their boundary-hitting ability. “People see we don’t rotate the strike well. We talk about that but we know we are boundary-hitting teams. Firstly, you got to stop us from hitting boundaries. That’s been difficult for the opposition once we get into that zone,” he said.