Drowsy West Indies wake up with Salt on their wounds 

England v West Indies: Super Eight - ICC Men
Dropping Phil Salt early in his innings wasn't the only mistake the West Indies made (P/C: Getty)

As Phil Salt continued to smack Romario Shepherd all around the park, West Indies wicketkeeper Nicholas Pooran could only look around in disbelief and with a body language that had helplessness written all over it. Pooran knew that the hosts had been handed an absolute hammering and some tough questions to answer by the defending champions.

With the T20 World Cup in their backyard and a plethora of big hitters in their ranks, the West Indies had been touted as one of the top contenders for the title. Four wins from four games in the group stage would have made that belief soar even higher. But the defeat to England has certainly given the hosts a reality check, and possibly a timely one.

West Indies skipper Rovman Powell did see the lighter side of things while talking about Phil Salt, who already had two T20I hundreds against his side earlier this year. Speaking to the host broadcaster, Powell said:

"Philip Salt seems to be a different beast against the West Indies! Every time he plays against us, he scores."

However, deep down, the Windies captain would know that they didn't just lose to Phil Salt. Rather, Salt's late blitz was just salt to their wounds and a reminder of how unforgiving the tournament could be on days when they don't hit their straps.

West Indies' innings was like a plane that never took off

Despite Brandon King retiring hurt, West Indies had an excellent powerplay with 54 runs on the board. The next two overs went for nine runs each and with 72 on the board after eight, the stage looked set for West Indies to flex their muscles with the ridiculous array of explosive batters waiting in the shed. However, the England spinners took the sting out of the momentum that the hosts had.

Adil Rashid first frustrated Johnson Charles with a three-run over and then Moeen Ali complemented his fellow spinner with a seven-run over from the other end. The Windies were milking singles and England certainly weren't complaining.

In the four overs after the powerplay, West Indies scored just 28 runs despite not losing any wickets. Charles finally got one out of the middle off Rashid's bowling but eventually departed for a 33-ball 38 that did more harm than good for the hosts. However, the biggest blow for them was Nicholas Pooran not being able to express himself.

The pitch had no demons in it and it was perfectly set up for Pooran to walk out and absolutely dominate the opposition bowlers like he has been doing at No. 3 for the Windies. But England's bowlers were ready with their plans in place and the southpaw's frustration grew with the growing number of dot balls.

Skipper Rovman Powell hit a few lusty blows from one end, smashing three sixes off Liam Livingstone. However, his wicket once again sucked all the momentum that the West Indies had got out of the backend of their innings and it was down to Pooran to get going. Then came the 16th over which aptly depicted West Indies' innings in a nutshell.

The plan from Jofra Archer was simple. Bowl the yorkers wide of off stump and make Nicholas Pooran hit behind point. The left-hander did get a boundary but was left frustrated again with the other four of the five deliveries being dot balls. The last ball of the over was a slot ball that a player of Pooran's caliber could smash 20 rows into the stands in his sleep.

Instead, it led to the end of the southpaw's stay as he edged it behind to Jos Buttler and departed for 36 off 32 balls. West Indies' last hope of getting a proper push was dashed when Andre Russell couldn't clear the long-on fielder and rewarded Adil Rashid for his sensational spell of 1/20.

The West Indies posted 180/4 on a good pitch, and playing as many as 51 dot balls was a major reason behind them not breaching the 200-run mark

Lethargic Windies caught napping in the field

When a team has an under-par score to defend, the least they can do is to try and make a match out of it with proper bowling changes and being top-notch in the field. But having already made mistakes with the bat, the sloppiness from the West Indies continued in the second innings as well.

Akeal Hosein bowled well from one end and mounted the pressure on Phil Salt. The left-arm spinner seemed to be getting some hints on which delivery to bowl by wicketkeeper Nicholas Pooran. Having had a poor outing with the bat, Pooran himself could have had a massive impact in the field. However, things went from bad to worse as he dropped Salt on 7, and the rest was history.

The bowling changes from Rovman Powell were also not so inspirational, with the likes of Romario Shepherd and Andre Russell getting the new ball ahead of premier pacer Alzarri Joseph, who had been in sensational form. Early wickets was the only way the West Indies could have controlled the game but they had missed that bus.

Roston Chase conceded just eight runs in his first two overs and gave his team the control on the run-flow that they desperately needed. However, it didn't last long as Jonny Bairstow launched a counter-attack on the inconsistent line and length from the likes of Alzarri and Hosein, and the result then became a mere formality.

The hosts would need to look at adding an extra bowling option in left-arm pacer Obed McCoy or the raw pace of Shamar Joseph. After a point, it seemed like skipper Powell just ran out of wicket-taking options.

Kieron Pollard's local knowledge and inputs being a part of England's coaching staff seemed to have worked for the defending champions. However, the two-time T20 World Cup champions West Indies have a certain Darren Sammy, who led them to those titles in 2012 and 2016, in their coaching staff. So they certainly do not need to look anywhere else for inspiration.

Captain Rovman Powell believes destiny is still in their own hands. However, destiny only favors the brave and the Windies would need to take some brave calls as England have laid the marker on the level of performance needed to dethrone them as T20 World Cup champions.

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Edited by Nihal
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