Both the matches on Sunday, the last two pool games of the ICC World Cup 2015 were must win games. For West Indies though, the challenge was easy since they were facing the relatively inexperienced UAE, who had lost a lot of sting as the tournament progressed, after an impressive start. UAE are the oldest team in this World Cup when one considers the average of the players. Their fitness had taken a beating, and by the time the West Indies match came along they did not seem to have much left in the tank. Windies exploited this weakness of theirs at Napier and booked their place in the quarter-finals.
West Indies’ bowling was the clinching factor for them in their final league encounter. Although bowling has not been their strength in the tournament, against UAE they were too good. West Indies skipper Jason Holder hasn’t had a very good tournament till date, but he stood up and delivered against UAE at Napier. The performance may have come against a weak side, but considering that he has struggled against the top sides in the event, it was imperative for him to come up with a confidence-boosting effort especially heading into the knockout rounds.
Holder bowled an excellent line and length, and claimed the first three UAE wickets rather cheaply to put West Indies on top very early in the innings. Not only did he claim four wickets in the game, but also kept the runs down, conceding only 27 runs during his quota of 10 overs. Unlike Holder, Jerome Taylor has had a fantastic World Cup 2015 in which he has won the battle against most top order batsmen early on. In Sunday’s game, that job had been done by the skipper, but Taylor ensured he continued his good form with three key wickets in the middle and lower order.
Though Windies bowled very well throughout the innings, they should be disappointed that they couldn’t clean up the opponents early after having them down in the dumps at 46 for 6. The bowlers took it a bit lightly, and thus allowed UAE to recover to 175. Against stronger opponents, this lack of killer instinct will definitely hurt the West Indians. There will be some worries for them in the batting department as well. Dwayne Smith had an extremely poor going into the final league clash, and his woes continued. Marlons Samuels also registered another failure. Apart from the one century against Zimbabwe, he hasn’t done much of note. The half-centuries to Jonathan Carter and Johnson Charles should please them though.
UAE will not have much fond memories of the game. But, they should be pleased with their fight back with the bat after, at one stage, it seemed they would fail to reach 100. Both Amjad Javed and Nasir Aziz hit dogged half-centuries to lend some respectability to the total in the final game. Their bowling once again lacked punch to trouble opponents. Playing their first World Cup in two decades, they failed to win any matches, but certainly demonstrated that they can improve with experience.
--By A Cricket Analyst