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Late to the party but star of the show - the recurring theme for Big Jase

Jason Holder was a part of most good things for West Indies after being drafted into the main squad

Shashank Kishore
Shashank Kishore
Big Jase wears his heart on his sleeve. He speaks his mind. He comes pounding in with the ball. He stands in the slips if the ball is swinging. He patrols the boundary, leaps high to pull off stunners, and makes them look easy. He gives his team a pep talk in the huddle in the absence of Kieron Pollard. And with the bat, he comes in and flexes those big shoulders and strong forearms, and whacks big runs. With Jason Holder, what's not to like?
In an ideal world, Holder should probably not have just been hanging around as a reserve in the UAE after being left out of West Indies' original T20 World Cup squad. Of late, though, coming in late but being the big show at the party has become a recurring theme with Holder, in a way.
In 2020, at a reserve price of INR 75 lakh (approx. US$100,000), he found no takers at the IPL auction. Come November, Sunrisers Hyderabad dialled in Holder as bowling insurance. He quit his family holiday midway and headed over, and ended up leading the pace attack in Bhuvneshwar Kumar's absence, while also giving them batting muscle lower down, and taking them into the playoffs.
And this year, Holder left Sunrisers wondering why they hadn't included him straightaway at the start of IPL 2021.
It's almost as if Holder has been programmed thus - summoned suddenly, and expected to perform right from the get-go. Like on Friday, when he came in with West Indies' World Cup campaign on the line. A loss and the dream of a third title would have come crashing down. They are still in it, thanks in no small part to Holder.


He walked in to bat after the big boys had struggled, and the scoreboard was reading 119 for 6.
Those who have spent a lot of their adult lives searching for cricket balls Chris Gayle has deposited in Bengaluru's Cubbon Park would have been aghast at seeing him try and dink the ball for tight singles in the powerplay, making mad dashes to complete runs he wouldn't have bothered with in his heyday. The dots piled up, as did the pressure, and he was bowled swinging wildly at a straight ball.
Evin Lewis, looking to live up to that tag of being the next Gayle, was early into a pull that he top-edged behind. His glare at the surface in disbelief showed that he wasn't sure if it was the wrong shot, or the two-paced nature of the pitch, that had got him.
Then there was Kieron Pollard, for whom a 60-metre straight hit with a walking stick is child's play. Here, he was unable to force the pace, cramping up badly and frustrated to the extent that he retired for a bit.
Even before anyone was able to process what had happened, Andre Russell was run-out. Without facing a ball, at the non-striker's end. The time taken to bash out the description of his dismissal on ESPNcricinfo's ball-by-ball commentary was longer than what he spent in the middle.
All along, Roston Chase was trying to come to grips with the situation, the conditions, and his role.
It needed some unbelievable batting from Nicholas Pooran, the only batter in the match to have taken the pitch completely out of the equation, to get them dreaming of 125. And then Holder came in at No. 8, riding high on luck after being dropped second ball, to try and make something of the last five balls. No time for sighters against the canny Mustafizur Rahman. Holder is used to doing the dirty work, and he had to do it again. Four big deliveries. No choice.


Five balls to go. It's 123 for 7. How much then - 130, or 135? Can't be more than that.
Holder takes a fresh leg-stump guard. He positions himself with a high back lift. Mustafizur lopes in. Surely a cutter? No. It's a low full-toss. Strong wrists, whip. Six!
Next ball. Full, on the stumps. Holder clears his front leg and sends it over deep square-leg.
Pollard chips in with a last-ball six, and West Indies get to 142. Holder's five-ball 15 is worth 23.72 Smart Runs.
The total is more than West Indies might have expected, and it gives them momentum. But Holder knows the job is just half-done. He has four potentially tournament-changing overs coming up.
He delivers three of those with precision inside the powerplay. A hobbling Shakib Al Hasan is kept honest, and a charging Mohammad Naim is denied a free swing of the arms. His height allows Holder to generate extra bounce even off slower deliveries, and premeditation doesn't work. The pressure is on Naim after Shakib's dismissal. He looks to pull but can only chop on. It's a big strike. Holder's first spell reads 3-0-11-1.
Later, there's the fourth over, with Bangladesh needing 44 off 30. The over goes for 11, as Mahmudullah and Liton Das get going, and Holder might have wondered if the game had slipped away.
But then, with seven balls left and 13 to get, he redeems himself. By calmly leaping high, using every inch of his tall frame to try and prevent the ball from going over long-on for six. He latches on. Almost with ease.
Holder can do no wrong.
But he does, misfielding off the penultimate ball of the chase, and giving Bangladesh just one whack for four for victory. On another night, Holder may have had to walk off wondering if it was the turning point. In Sharjah, on a fine Friday evening, by making a game out of nothing, luck was on his side as Russell closed out the game with a superb yorker.
Holder finished with a match impact of 72.37 on ESPNcricinfo's Smart Stats, a metric that adds context to every performance. It was quite the show.

Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo