South Africa v West Indies, World T20 2016, Group 1, Nagpur March 24, 2016

West Indies ponder over 'good headache' in batting order

ESPNcricinfo staff

The forced absence of Chris Gayle from the batting crease against Sri Lanka - after he spent too much time off the field nursing a hamstring niggle to bat in his usual position - has given West Indies a batting-order puzzle to solve ahead of Friday's clash against South Africa in Nagpur. Andre Fletcher, who had been expected to bat in the middle order, opened in Gayle's stead in Bangalore and scored an unbeaten 64-ball 84 to steer West Indies to a comfortable win.

With Gayle set to take his usual place at the top of the order - from where he smashed an unbeaten 48-ball 100 in a chase of 183 against England - West Indies will ponder whether to partner him with Fletcher or his usual opening partner Johnson Charles. Darren Sammy, the West Indies captain, said it was a "good headache" to have.

"The good thing is that Gayle is fit," Sammy said. "We knew how well Fletcher was batting coming into the tournament. Charles hasn't got a score yet but we know how well he can bat. It's a good headache to have.

"Whether we let Fletcher or Charles open the batting with Chris, you'll know tomorrow. The good thing is Chris is playing really well. I believe Charles will have his turn to score runs at the top of the order as well. We have a fair idea as to who will open the batting tomorrow."

Fletcher's innings in Bangalore, Sammy said, showed the depth of match-winning talent in the West Indies squad.

"I said at the start of the tournament we have 15 match-winners," he said. "Yes, Chris is our biggest player, but there's no pressure on him to perform. We, as a group, know what we have. As Fletcher showed, even he can win matches. We know have 15 match-winners in our dressing room."

Proof of this, Sammy said, was the fact that West Indies have won their first two matches despite the absence of key T20 stars such as Kieron Pollard, Sunil Narine and Lendl Simmons from their squad, and without too much asked of lower-order hitters such as himself, Andre Russell and Carlos Brathwaite.

"I tell people, when I look at my team, I always have a smile on my face," Sammy said. "Yes, we have missed three key players who are seasoned T20 players for us. But the guys who have replaced them are equally capable.

"We have won two games batting second and you are yet to see a full innings from Russell, myself, Carlos. The world has not yet seen Carlos in T20 and when that time comes, we all are ready and eager to go out and bat and perform for the team."

Sammy dismissed suggestions that South Africa - who have won only one of their first two matches as opposed to West Indies' two out of two - would be more desperate for a win on Friday.

"I know we are desperate to win," he said. "It's a position that we are very happy to be in. We win this game and we qualify for the semis for sure, so it's a must-win game for us tomorrow. To us, it's a very important match. We have six steps to the Cup. We have taken two. Tomorrow it's about taking one more step towards our goal. That step is South Africa."

Referencing his side's 2-1 T20 series win in South Africa last year, Sammy said West Indies had a "fair idea" of how to play them. But a meeting with South Africa will also pit his side against AB de Villiers, who, in the space of less than two months in early 2015, smashed West Indies' bowling for the fastest century, and then the fastest 150, in ODIs. Sammy said his side was wary of South Africa's batting threat as a whole, and not just about de Villiers' potential impact.

"A line-up of Quinton [de Kock], [Hashim] Amla, Faf [du Plessis], AB, [David] Miller. These are all great players," Sammy said. "Yes, we have got into the rough end of the stick from AB on a lot of occasions. He is a world-class player but T20 is played on a day when every innings starts fresh. We have our plans for him and we also have some very dangerous guys in our team.

"At the end of the day, we just have to score one more run than them and we come out victorious. I hope it's an exciting match. Games with West Indies tend to be exciting, so hopefully we can keep entertaining the way we have been since the inception of T20 and at the end of the day, get a place in the semi-finals."

So far, West Indies have played both their matches in the batting-friendly environs of Mumbai and Bangalore. The pitch in Nagpur - though not the same square-turning strip that hosted the low-scoring, India-New Zealand game - is expected to provide a vastly different challenge. Sammy said his bowling attack would be up to the task.

"The pitch that we are going to play on has been covered yesterday and today. Spoke to the groundsman and he gave us a little bit of information about what to expect. Yes, we respect the opposition and plan for them, but we are more focused on what the West Indies T20 team could do.

"I've said it many times, once we do what we do well, we are a force to reckon with. We are very destructive. We've doing just the basic things well. Someone at the top of the order has carried their bat throughout.

"We've also being bowling well. On a pitch in Mumbai where the average score on that day [against England] was probably 200, we restricted the team to 180. In Bangalore, too, we bowled really well. We've been doing the basics right and in T20 it's about entertaining and keeping it simple. We have really gelled well as a team. We are aiming to do well against South Africa."

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Adrian on March 25, 2016, 4:15 GMT

    I feel I need to repeat what I said in another thread. WI have at least 7 big hitters in the 11. Any two get off, we win, its simple. Ramdin is the best player of spin in the team. His role is to soak up the spin balls. If he scores a run a ball that's cool. Once he last 2 or 3 overs of spin without Windies losing any of their big hitters. If he scores some quick runs, as he does ever so often, that's a bonus. Specialist keepers over the years have always proven to work better than part-timers. Both Fletcher and Charles are not capable enough glovemen. Ramdin is to be used anywhere in the order once spin is on and we lose a batsman. Everyone has a role, thats his. I would also like to see one of the other big hitters up the order.

  • Dennis on March 25, 2016, 2:37 GMT

    Also, I believe that they can risk dropping Ramdin and bringing in another batsman (my money is on Holder). Fletcher can keep, he is basically a fulltime wicketkeeper batsman at the domestic level....Charles is moreso a part-time wicket keeper and also bowls a bit. Charles is obviously really weak against spin and will inevitably get out if he has a hard time getting the ball away. We'll see how this match goes...there's a lot of talk about Fletcher but historically, you don't really see the same batsman firing consistently in these tournaments for West Indies. My prediction is that Gayle/Fletcher/Samuels will get out cheaply and it will be up to the middle/lower order to make up the runs. Hopefully I'm wrong though. If they're going to fire in any match..this needs to be the one. Hoping for a good game tomorrow because SA is really strong.

  • Josiah on March 24, 2016, 20:31 GMT

    If Ramdin is played bat him at 9 so he doesn't rob the team of momentum due to his abysmal form.

  • Joshua on March 24, 2016, 19:54 GMT

    Fletcher is a better player of spin than Ramdin. Charles, and more so Fletcher are better players of pace than Ramdin. And Fletcher and Charles will either impact the game positively be scoring at a SR of 130+ or be out quickly to at least give others a chance. Ramdin on the other hand, while he too can win a game, often makes a game much closer than it needs to be (sometimes even losing it) by scoring slowly and not getting out, leaving everyone after him under immense pressure. I can't see Ramdin impacting the game as a keeper. Badree, Benn and Nurse are not mystery spinners, and looking back at CPL seasons, which has had quite a few quality spinners, Fletcher did well in the games he kept wicket... Whether or not Ramdin plays, at least we can all agree that he's holding on to his spot by a thread... WI don't need Ramdin in T20s.

  • M on March 24, 2016, 17:22 GMT

    This match is playing in Nagpur, where it is expected to turn (not as much as the previous games as they're using a new strip, but still). Therefore, Charles and Fletcher can't keep because they're simply not that good, especially against spin. Ramdin must play for 2 reasons: He is the best keeper in the squad, even against spin, and he is one of the better batters of spin in the squad too and I suspect that this game will be decided by which team plays spin better. Charles hasn't performed in 2 games and gets stuck when he doesn't get boundaries regularly. Fletcher's innings guarantees his spot alongside Gayle. I say drop Charles and play Lewis, who cannot possibly do worse than Charles has thus far. The order of the top 4 batting is another issue, but that will be sorted out. Go in with the same bowling attack as the previous game. Except Sammy and/or Gayle to bowl a couple because this surface will stay slow and low.

  • Saj on March 24, 2016, 17:14 GMT

    Bowlers love to have a keeper they feel they can rely on if a bad ball is bowled. Also Ramdin puts pressure on batsmen by keeping closer to the wicket than the normal keeper largely because of his sharp reflexes. So if the other wicket keepers in the West Indies can do this better than him, then play them.

  • Vivek on March 24, 2016, 17:10 GMT

    Too much talk Sammy.. You are not in semis yet..Technically you can still be out...with Eng and SA still in contention..Drop Ramdin....Did you see what Dhoni did last match?? A keeper should be like him...

  • Oneal on March 24, 2016, 15:29 GMT

    Gayle and Charles should play, Drop Ramdeen keep Fletcher and play an extra spin in Nurse no Holder not for this match/track.

  • Ali on March 24, 2016, 15:24 GMT


    why punish Ramdin for being the best keeper ?

    You could let Fletcher keep, and let Ramdin play as a specialist batsman, and Ramdin would outscore both Fletcher and Charles ...

    You cannot compare Ramdin the keeper batting at 7 to Charles and Fletcher playing as specialist batsmen while opening ....

    if you look at Charles and Fletcher as KEEPERS ... they SUCK.. they drop catches, they miss stumpings and run outs, they give away wides and byes . AND , while Keeping,, their batting SUFFERS ....

    the WICB have TRIED TIME AND TIME AGAIN with Fletcher, Charles, Baugh, Devon Thomas ect.... and it is about TIME they stop the failing experiments and let Ramdin keep out the reminder of his career ...

    Ramdin is 31 , and has less world cup appearances than Devon Thomas and Carlton Baugh ...

  • Harold on March 24, 2016, 14:55 GMT

    I think the ideal solution is to drop Ramdin let Flecther keep and accommodate Charles as he will be required, somewhere before the end of the tournament he will come good and provide WI with a score in a tight game .

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