The West Indies might not have come out as winners in the just-ended T20 International series against heavyweights India, but their performances should nonetheless be applauded.
The regional team put in a gutsy performance, despite going down 2-1 in the three-match series.
In the first T20, even though they lost by six wickets, the Windies batsmen were up to the task, posting a respectable 207 for five in their 20 overs, their highest total in the format in almost four years.
Lendl Simmons then turned up at the party in the second match, blasting 67 from 45 deliveries to help the West Indies demolish India by eight wickets in a lopsided contest.
Head coach Phil Simmons and captain Kieron Pollard would have been very disappointed in the team’s performance in the third and final T20, where they were brushed aside by 67 runs following a below-par effort with the ball that saw India reach a mammoth 240 for three from 20 overs.
And while it would not have been the fairytale ending the Windies or their fans would have been hoping for, the team showed fight, grit and determination – characteristics that have been missing for some time.
It was always going to be a tough ask for the 10th-ranked West Indians to overcome the Indians who are ranked fifth on the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) T20I rankings, especially considering they were playing on the subcontinent.
Pollard, the newly appointed T20 captain, had nothing but praise for his troops after the series.
Pollard shot down concerns that the series loss would have a negative impact on their performances in the three-match ODI series which begins on Sunday.
He said: “It’s not going to be difficult at all. We’ve brought the series into a final game here, which I’m sure a lot of you guys didn’t think would happen if I’m being honest.
“But, it has happened for us, which means the guys are doing the right thing and we’re going to continue our way how we prepare.”
In particular, he praised the performances of Kesrick Williams and Hayden Walsh Jr during the series.
The regional team also came in for high praise from assistant coach Roddy Estwick, who said his troops had been “brilliant on tour”.
Estwick said the Windies had improved significantly since India’s last tour of the Caribbean, where the home side was thoroughly outplayed.
He said their recent showing had given them the confidence they needed heading into the ODI series.
Said Estwick: “They’ve been brilliant on this tour. We can’t fault them on this tour at all, they’ve worked really hard and they’re beginning to see the results.
“We’re happy with the way we performed in the T20s [against India].
“After the three T20s, we played in the Caribbean, the gulf between the two teams was wide and we’re happy that we’ve narrowed that gap and we hope we can do the same thing in the 50 overs.”
Significantly, Coach Estwick also revealed that he had witnessed a change of behaviour in West Indies’ players.
He added that they were now beginning to develop a high-class work ethic.
“But the key thing is how you prepare if you’re prepared to work hard and you’ve got a benchmark in Virat Kohli – somebody who you will see in the gym and will work very, very hard,” he said.
“Once our players can learn from players like that then we’ve got a chance because without hard work there’s no success, and hard work is boring but it gives you great success.
“Once they can learn and keep working, keep dealing with the process then they’ve got a chance.”
And even though India is seven places higher on the ICC’s ODI rankings than the ninth-ranked Windies, this encouraging performance in the T20 series reasonably gives rise to hope.
So let’s rally.