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Rovman Powell’s incredible 101 saves West Indies the blues against Ireland

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On a bowling friendly wicket at the Harare Sports Club, as the West Indies found themselves at 58-4, they surely must have had their heart in their mouth. It’s not a very promising sight to find yourself under 4 an over with the top order wiped out by bowlers who seem as committed to bringing about curtains as is a hailstorm bent on destroying one’s evening plans. This wasn’t after all just any contest. It was a literal do or die, especially for Holder’s men who are fighting hard to live each day as the road to qualifying for the ICC 2019 World Cup gets tricker.
Perpetually in a state of discomfort against their familiar bullies- Ireland- the West Indies have often found themselves wanting.  That told, it didn’t seem any inspiring to remember that the last time where the two teams met, a score of 301 wasn’t enough to curtail the Irish storm. But thankfully, the West Indies lorded with great panache, thanks to number 7 batsman Rovman Powell, whose 101 off 100 balls, laced with 7 sixes didn’t end up as a spectacular effort in a losing cause as Holder’s team bundled out Ireland for 205 in the 46th over.
Ireland attempted a rescue effort that went in vain
Even as the Irish tail was splattered easily by a brilliant display of cunning fast bowling, most noticeably by Kemar Roach and Kesrick Williams- four wickets apiece- their middle order forged a steady resistance, thanks to Ed Joyce’s valuable 63 off 86 balls. It could be said, seeing Ireland’s top order gushes- 3 for 32 at one stage to 4-96- it seemed that Joyce would eventually emerge joyous, truncating any efforts by the Windies pacers to defend what eventually seemed a naggingly hard total to chase.
But before the celebrations came about- well deserved that they surely were- the Irish innings was held gracefully by Joyce’s beautiful inning, a valiant effort that didn’t boast of the last hurrah but spoke of such minuscule detailing- the gentle pushes to cover, the daft nudges to backward point and the muscled pulls toward deep square leg- that it made an unsuccessful chase littered with emotive poetry. Then when Kevin O’ Brien joined forces with the experienced left-hander, the burlesque all-rounder doing no more than driving Roach and Holder to the long off and cover boundary with sedate ease- it seemed Powell’s effort would go in vain.
But boy, haven’t the West Indies found themselves a fantastic wicket-taking bowler in Kesrick Williams? 
By no standards, a menacingly fast bowler, Williams can trouble batsmen with his shorter deliveries; seemingly effort balls that push batsmen to the backend of the crease. He maintains a wicket-to-wicket line with great discipline and can enforce an error by variations when batsmen least expect it. His support to Roach- 10 overs, 3 maidens, 27 runs, 4 wickets- was instrumental just as Jason Holder’s was to Rovman Powell when the two got together at 5 down for 83 to repair the West Indies inning.
If there was a game where Windies’ team spirit- an overly used sentence that sparkles in team meetings and on paper- came alive then it was against Ireland.
Even though with three wins from as many games, Holder’s team looks by far the brightest to perhaps qualify for the ICC World Cup 2019, there are valid concerns with the top order. Lewis’ bat- that can bully opponents into submission- has gone dormant. It didn’t help that after striking two ferocious boundaries, both off McBrine who surprisingly opened for Ireland- the Trinidadian found himself caught at point playing way outside off. Gayle struck a six early on off Rankin and stole a few unlikely singles before completely failing to get a peach of a delivery by Murtagh that kissed his outside edge. The big fella found it tough to get going- 14 off 28. But if there was a batsman that dug out a well of concentration, fighting fire with fire then it was newbie Hetmyer who scored 36 off 40 balls.
You instantly realize there’s something special about the left-hander when he scores at a strike rate of 90 where experienced pro’s like Gayle and Samuels struggle to put bat to ball.
Marlon Samuel’s form in the tournament continues to be despicable as the right-hander has been unable to reach meaningful two figure scores, finding himself offering catch practice to the keeper as he edged an effort delivery- a nearly rusty bouncer from Murtagh to Niall O’ Brien. But even as the Hetmyer’s inexperience bettered his exuberance- the 21-year-old came down the track and lifted McBrine to long on, he has indicated that the new lot of West Indies batsmen don’t tinker around without a fight.
There was a momentary lapse of concentration by Shai Hope as he fiddled with not the best of deliveries to being caught behind, adding no more than a spark-less 7. That is when two of West Indies’ finest contestants thus far in the tournament got together; captain Jason Holder, beginning from where he left in his 99* and Rovman Powell. Is the latter another Russell in making, who’s to say?
But in his highly enterprising 101, a maiden ton in ODI cricket- Powell induced an enigmatic reminder of the bygone days of Windies’ glory, reminding fans of the brazen assaults the West Indies delivered to their opponents. Perhaps the right-hander was unbothered by what the scorecard entailed when he joined Jason to play a repairman. Perhaps he was playing just in the moment, focusing on where he’d send the next ball as opposed to which of the tailender would stick by him as he bludgeoned a defining inning, one built on pure tedium for bowlers.
Nowadays, it isn’t every day where a Windies batsman shatters the glass of a pavilion stand
But Powell did just that as he muscled Kevin O’ Brien with his garrulous bat sending the ball high, several rows back over wide mid-on. The West Indies’ seniors- it ought to be said- need to borrow a page from Powell’s freewheeling effort. Perhaps in taking each game at a time, something captain Holder has termed ‘essential’ there lies the key to success. With a game to go against the Netherlands before the Super Six stage comes calling where Scotland and Zimbabwe will test West Indian resolve, can the biggies- Gayle, Samuels awaken the giant within? It’s all to play for as West Indies savour their third triumph.

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Dev Tyagi
Dev Tyagi
Dravid believer, admirer of - the square drive, Drew Barrymore, Germany, Finland, Electric Mobility, simplicity and the power of the written word! Absolutely admire contributing to KyroSports

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