Windies vs England 2019 ODI: England assert their dominance despite a ferocious Gayle Storm
Cricket is in a much more healthy and competitive state off late, especially Test cricket. A lot of people were saying that the longest format of the game is losing visibility and credibility amidst the rising popularity of T20s.
Something that has been put to rest with WIndies emerging winners against England and also with a mind-boggling effort from Kusal Perera stunning the Proteas and winning the respect of the cricketing fraternity.
The return of sorts of the calypso spirit was the biggest positive to come out of the historic test series win against England. They rallied around their captain Jason Holder and produced a truly scintillating performance. With that the interest, belief would have increased of the people in Windies-something which is required for cricket.
And Windies have been struggling with a lot of talented players preferring to represent leagues and franchises across the globe over their country. The relationship between WICB and the players had left an endearing impact on the team's performance.
But in some good news, these issues seem to have tapered a bit as now we get to see an almost full-fledged Windies team on the park for the ODI series against England. On paper, with the return of "Universe Boss" Chris Gayle, the team looks even more formidable.
Despite some mind-boggling hitting by Chris Gayle, and Windies getting their highest score in ODIs, they were humbled by England in the first ODI at Barbados. That is a testament to the world dominance of this England team and not the performance of the Windies.
"Universe Boss" Chris Gayle makes his presence felt on his return
Chris Gayle returned to the Windies ODI setup after more than a year, announcing that the ICC World Cup, 2019 would be his last assignment in ODI cricket. He ensured people remembered that he has indeed made his comeback.
He tore apart the England bowlers and deposited as many as eight balls out of the ground. He went on to become the cricketer with the most sixes hit in international cricket( 488) on his way to scoring his 24th ODI century.
Chris Gayle certainly didn't look too much out of touch and was helped by getting a pitch which would qualify as among the flattest surfaces going around. Also Eoin Morgan's surprise plan to bring on Adil Rashid late in the piece also may have helped.
Nevertheless, it was an audacious display of clean striking that only a few players in the world can be capable of. In full flight, Chris Gayle ignited hope among Windies fans about their prospects heading into the World Cup.
With players like Jason Holder, Shimron Hetmeyer, Shai Hope, Darren Bravo, Nicholas Pooran and Carlos Brathwaite the batting has the Caribbean flair attached to it. A fit and available Andre Russell would only make it better.
Where Windies lack is their bowling lineup. Not much variety coupled with some players lacking confidence can dampen all the efforts put in by their batsmen. This would certainly define WIndies's strategies ahead of the World Cup.
Jason Roy and Joe Root maul Windies, assert England's dominance
England were hit by a ferocious Gayle storm in the first ODI at Barbados. But such has their mighty growth in ODI cricket since the ICC Cricket World Cup, 2015 that they were able to pull back the Windies and restrict them to 360 runs when 400 looked very much on the cards.
That presence of mind and the execution of bowlers like Chris Woakes, Ben Stokes and Adil Rashid in the death overs is a crucial cog in the armory of the England team heading into the World Cup.
An attitude that is devoid of any fear or worry. That's the England team in ODIs off late. Many people had ruled out England dominating in this ODI series as they lost the test series 1-2 and lot of technical deficiencies cropped up.
But this England team in blue jerseys are something else. Jason Roy showed what he's capable of if he's given a target to chase. Some shots were too good to be true, on route to a match-winning century along with Joe Root who hit a century of his own.
What can be worrying for the Windies is the fact that Jos Buttler, Eoin Morgan, Ben Stokes and Moen Ali didn't get much too do in the first ODI. Irrespective of that, England demolished WIndies and chased down 360 with ten balls to spare.
Looking forward to the remainder of the series, Windies should look to capitalise on all the opportunities hurled at them. They can'not afford to let the momentum slip like it did in the last 5-7 overs in the first ODI.
England would want to put on a better bowling performance, while on the batting front nothing needs to be improved or worked on as it stands currently. They have enough world beating batsmen in their team to post or chase down any given target on most days.
Certainly, the hosts of the ICC World Cup, 2019 are showing us why they are favorites to win this World Cup. The question to be asked is can Windies stop them? We would need to wait and watch!