After two half-centuries, two wins, and two Player of the Match awards, one might be forgiven for thinking that whatever success the West Indies has garnered at this World Cup so far has come solely on the back of Zaida James’ dominance. But James’ good form with the bat also lent itself to a noteworthy bond with opening partner, Shunelle Sawh.
In the three games Sawh and James opened the innings, the West Indies were 61 (vs Ireland, W), 94 (vs Indonesia, W), and 16 (New Zealand, L) at the fall of the first wicket. Yet, Realeanna Grimmond for Shunelle Sawh was one of the four changes the Caribbean side made on Sunday knowing they would come up against a stifling Rwanda bowling attack.
And what followed this questionable decision from the West Indies was another suffocating batting display where the Caribbean side failed in effectively responding to the different stages of the game.
For example, at 15 for 1 at the start of the 6th over, WINDIES were clearly behind the eight ball. Yet they were able to scramble 10 runs from the first five deliveries via a few risky shots from Grimmond. This meant they would at least finish the powerplay with 25 runs on the board; an acceptable equation, given the situation they were in five balls before. ‘Get out of the over and reassess,’ must have been the plan. Except for Naijanni Cumberbatch, who when facing her third delivery of the innings, decided to skip down the wicket right past a flighted one from Sylvia Usabyimana only to find herself stumped.
While you cannot fault Cumberbatch for the thinking behind the use of her feet you can question the timing of the decision. And much like Cumberbatch, a few other West Indian batters to their credit, did attempt to use their feet to the Rwandan spinners. The timing as well as the effectiveness of the ploy however is another story.
With the score already 33/2, Djenaba Joseph came down the wicket to hit aerially against the spin facing up to her fifth delivery, only to be caught at cover. It was a similar story for an admittedly set Grimmond four deliveries later, where the right-hander wandered down the wicket resulting in her stumping, as the West Indies went from 33/2 to 33/4 in the span of five deliveries.
The Caribbean side’s approach was summarized in Trishan Holder’s dismissal. Holder, the sixth wicket to fall, was bowled following a rather casual slash at a delivery on the line of her off-stump. With Holder, went WINDIES’ opportunity to get up to any potentially challenging score for this Rwanda batting unit. Still, it wasn’t to be a straightforward chase.
Not unlike the West Indies, Rwanda finished the powerplay at 25/2, and kept losing wickets through the middle-overs with Henriette T. Ishimwe, Geovanis Uwase and Belise Murekatete all being dismissed without scoring. However, it was Gisele Ishimwe’s 31 not out that secured the victory with 10 deliveries to spare. This left the West Indies to rue not having batted their allotted overs and ponder what might have been had they once acknowledged when the opposition had the upper hand in the first innings and countered that with a much safer approach in stroke-play.