Badree happy to fill the Narine void
Samuel Badree has already seen the best and worst of himself in West Indies' first two matches in the World T20. In Mumbai, against England, he had the third-most expensive figures in his T20I career. In Bangalore, on Sunday, he silenced Sri Lanka with a three-wicket haul to record his second-best bowling figures in T20Is.
Despite finishing with figures of 4-0-12-3, Badree was pipped to the Man-of-the-Match award by Andre Fletcher who, playing his first match of the tournament, surprised Sri Lanka with a strokefull 84. Fletcher ensured West Indies did not feel the absence of Chris Gayle, who was forced to sit out in the dressing room as a precautionary measure, having suffered a mild hammy in his left leg.
Similarly, Badree has made certain that West Indies are secure despite the absence of their premier offspinner Sunil Narine, who opted out of the tournament to work further on his remodelled action. Narine has not played for West Indies since being banned last year during a tour of Sri Lanka.
"The absence of Sunil is a big blow to the team. You know how dangerous he is especially in these conditions. Yes, we have talked about someone having to step up the fill those huge shoes. I am happy thus far in the tournament I was able to do that quite competently," Badree said in Nagpur, where West Indies will play South Africa on Friday in their third Super10 match.
Badree, one of the most successful spinners in the Powerplay, said though he was forced to adapt to the new role of bowling in the middle overs, he was enjoying it. "We have seen in the first couple of games that I have started then I am held back for a couple in the middle as well. We have seen how important spin is especially after the Powerplay during the middle overs when the ball is a little bit older."
According to Badree, it will be a big challenge for West Indies on Friday when they encounter the "very powerful batting line-up" of South Africa. But Badree wanted West Indies to take confidence from their dominant performance agaisnt Sri Lanka, where they applied pressure right from the start.
"It is all about the start. If a team gets off to a flier it is always difficult. But we were able to pick up early wickets of [Tillakaratne] Dilshan and [Dinesh] Chandimal, two of their more experienced batters. So it was a little bit easier to come to bowl at their middle order who were under pressure. Luckily for me I was able to pitch the ball up and pick up wickets as well," Badree said.
Despite his heroics, Badree acknowledged the contribution from left-arm spinner Sulieman Benn. "He must not go unheralded. His spell of four overs for 13 runs was tremendous especially bowling to a set [Angelo] Mathews and Thisara Perera, who was looking to take the mantle of scoring runs at the end."
Badree, however, would not venture into talking about South Africa's weakness against spin, which has been a talking point in the tournament. He would not also be drawn into the slow nature of the Nagpur pitch, which became the biggest talking point in India's opening match against New Zealand. The one thing Badree did concede, though, was the importance of striking early.
"If the wicket is turning you obviously want to bowl slow and exploit that and takes wickets early. In T20 cricket sometimes people underestimate how important early wickets are in terms of restricting the opposition," Badree said.
"It is fair to say we are strong in our batting department. We haven't been tested in defending a total. Luckily thus far the captain has been able to win both the tosses. Here in Nagpur it seems as if the pitch is going to turn so we might want to bat first and set a total and defend that.
"You never know. That is the captain's call. At the end of the day the toss is not guaranteed. Whether we bat first or we bowl first we know that at the end of the day we want to win all our games and send a signal to the other teams we here to compete and we are here to win."
Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo