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Dev Tyagi ∙ Jul 30 2023, 7:30 PM | 5 Min Read

The Significance of the West Indies Win Against India at Barbados


image-lkpcw8rvWest Indies won the second ODI by 6 wickets [AP Photo]

Prior to playing the second one dayer at Barbados, one that could certainly have sealed the fate of yet another series against their favour, the West Indies team had one, just one aim: to find a way to stay alive in the series so that it would reach the decider at Trinidad. 

Big game done right

The pressure, in realistic terms, was enormous on the hosts. 

Lest it is forgotten, they had succumbed and that too, in the opener one dayer, to the ignominious sight of being bowled out inside 23 overs for a 114. 

It wasn’t just a small total; it was pitiable, horribly paltry even. 

But the means to elongate the series so that it would reach the final meant that they had to journey on a road that given their brazen inconsistencies with the bat seemed rather difficult. 

It required them to carry out a cricketing basic: the simple task of playing full overs and if not, then bat deep. 

The meaning of July 29’s win 

On July 29 at Barbados, a land that besides being the home of Sir Sobers, has been quite a fortress of Caribbean cricket, the team didn’t play like cricketers. 

They played akin to troopers and soldiers desperate to give it everything in a bid to ensure that they won’t be walked over. 

In the end, the Indian team found it anything but a cakewalk to cut through the morale of a team it had visibly shaken, first at Dominica on this tour and later, at Barbados’s first one dayer itself. 

What changed for WI

The West Indies, on their part, hardly looked the part of the West Indies that routinely takes the field- one often lacking a visible game-plan, a team that accumulates pressure by its constant accumulation of dot balls, and finally, one that doesn’t quite fancy doing the hard grind of taking singles and exploring the scope of doubles. 

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And in this process of digging deep within to find the recesses of resilience and belief, something we don’t quite see the average West Indian explore, the team attained what could be called it’s most memorable cricketing moment of 2023. 

It is, again it ought to be reminded, the very year where they’ve failed to even qualify for the ODI World Cup. 

That Kohli and Sharma perhaps rested themselves in a selfless bid to offer a chance to the likes of the returning Samson, to encourage the flashy but persistently disappointing Suryakumar Yadav to continue was hardly the West Indies’s fault. 

That Dravid and his think tank elected the playing eleven that still didn’t feature Ruturaj was also hardly the West Indies’s fault.   

All that they could’ve done was to have done the right thing at their end, precisely what they’d much rather be concerned with. 

And playing a brand of cricket that, for a refreshing change, didn’t feature the clueless look of concern but careful planning, the West Indies defeated India. 

A smashing headline 

What an emphatic headline three simple phrases strung together really was: West Indies beat India! 

And when you take into consideration the winning margin of six wickets, it tends to make the sweet taste of victory for Shai Hope’s team yet more sweeter.  

A victory in Sir Gary Sobers’ land, a win that came at the very ground Kyle Mayers and the captain Shai Hope himself have grown playing on. 

A victory in which Mayers perhaps played the most eye catchy and arresting 36 he’s ever played in a developing career; a knock that featured that very Calypsonian, almost Lara-esque whip off the hips akin to a classical Nataraj pose with such poise. 

A victory in which the captain Shai offered oodles of Hope in leading from the front in scoring yet another vital fifty; this time an unbeaten 63 off 80 with the team amid pressure. 

And importantly, a win in which Keacy Carty, (48 not out) one of the most important finds of Caribbean cricket since Akeal Hosein and Alick Athanaze, hit the winning runs: a thumping hit over the off side for a boundary. 

A long time coming

Yet, all of these contributing factors still don’t perhaps explain the reason why this second one dayer was just so important to the annals of West Indies ODI cricket.  

As a matter of fact, the last time that the Windies overcame India was so far back in time that the likes of Athanaze, Carty, Mayers, Seales, Motie, Carriah hadn’t yet debuted. 

On December 15, 2019, the West Indies had beaten India by a rather comfortable margin of 8 wickets. The significance of the win wasn’t just down to Hetmyer playing an inning of a life time; the win came in India. 

But what would follow ever since would be an unwatchable saga of harrowing losses that would scar the spirit of the usually happy-go-lucky Caribbean fan. 

The West Indies lost both the remainder of the games in that 2019-bound 3-match series. 

Next, the West Indies would lose each of their three one dayers played in India in early 2022. 

That same year, they would again lose each of the three one dayers that were played at their own home in the Caribbean. 

That this Barbados victory has actually come after a morale crushing period of wait no fewer than 1,322 days should serve a lesson to both fans and their beloved West Indies team. 

For staters, despite being in a massively heartbreaking space where the two time World Cup winners aren’t even going to board the flight to India- it mustn’t be forgotten- that if commit to it, they can even beat the invincible looking India.  

What ought to be remembered

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What also mustn’t be forgotten is that in order to relish the sweet experience of victory, one has to do the basics right, something the Hope-led team did to much perfection once they got their focus right. 

Things such as - rotating the strike, attacking when the opportunity arrives and abstaining from going wild after the bowling are still very doable things even for a team that largely does exactly the opposite. 

See where it got the usually lackadaisical side that doesn’t often do the basics. 

A win’s not nearly enough. It’s kept them alive, but now is the time to thrive. 

What the West Indies must prepare for is to give, once again, their everything, which includes the brilliant bowling by Motie and Shepherd (both claiming three wickets apiece) to come good in the third one dayer on Tuesday. 

Rohit and Virat will be back again. The rest will attack harder. 

But playing at the Brian Lara academy, probably Hope and company will realise the lesson the trailblazing Trinidadian has always epitomised- to never say die.