Big sixes and batting collapses were both prominent in the opening T20 International between the West Indies and Sri Lanka which marked the international debut of the Coolidge Cricket Ground in Antigua on Wednesday night.
But it was the big sixes that won out in the end for the hosts, with skipper Kieron Pollard etching his name once again into the record books as only the second player in T20 internationals to score six sixes in an over and only the third to achieve the feat in the international arena.
The night’s proceeding included a hat-trick for Sri Lanka spinner Akila Dananjaya, who ironically ended up on the wrong side of Pollard’s epic rampage.
Chalk it up to the glorious uncertainties of the game and just a bizarre series of events or as simply teams playing to their strength, either way, Pollard felt “It was a good advertisement for cricket.”
After being put into bat, the Sri Lankans mustered just 131 for nine with every single bowler used by Pollard getting a wicket, even debutant Kevin Sinclair, who was given the new ball.
After a good bowling effort, the Windies embraced their six-hitting strength to race to 134 for six off just 13.1 overs to take a 1-0 lead in the series ahead of tonight’s second match at the same venue from 6 p.m.
In total, the hosts clobbered 13 sixes with Pollard hitting six in the sixth over as the Windies powered their way to 98 for four after six overs.
“It was a good advertisement for cricket. It was a bizarre game,” Pollard said of the match.
“Credit must go to our bowlers at the start of the innings. Restricting them to 132, I thought was a fantastic effort. I think the debutant (Kevin Sinclair) was brilliant. Fidel Edwards coming back again and showing is worth and mettle. Kudos to the bowling line up and retracting them to 132, ten out of ten times you would back yourself to get it,” Pollard added.
However even as the West Indies celebrated a win, Pollard admitted that there are a few things they need to “iron out”
“We’ll take the win and have discussions about how we want to continue playing in terms of improving in different areas. I just believe we could be a little more vocal in the field. We started off a bit flat and we can understand that. There were a couple of mis-fields here and there, but you can’t really sort of have a perfect game, but you have to aim for perfection,” Pollard explained.
“And then in terms of the batting, the batting collapses that we’ve had, obviously we’ve seen that a couple of times, but you know what is good is that this time around we were able to get over the line with the experienced guys.
“Jason (Holder) using his technique and all his Test experience and Brav (Dwayne Bravo) with all his experience as well to finish off the game. But having said that, well done to the openers and the start that they gave us so we could be able to close (off the win) in the back end,” the Windies skipper added.
He said the getting to the total was never in doubt but the position they were in after the hat-trick “gave us a bit of a nerve-wracking time”.
“Having said that, the experience guys really pulled through for us. That’s what team is about and that’s what unity is about and that’s what we want to do going forward,” he added.
Pollard also said the Windies will continue to play to their strengths but will have to balance the big shots with rotating the strike.
“If that (hitting sixes) is our strength, on these sorts of grounds, you will back your strength. You would want to capitalise on your strengths, and you don’t want to miss out on balls you are normally hitting. We just need to find the right balance sometimes in terms of trying to rotate the strike,” Pollard explained.
He added:“You can try to rotate the strike, play with half of the bat and try to hit the gap and then (still) getting out so it is sort of a catch-22 situation. As batsmen we need to figure it out and as I said, the series is going to be their spinners versus our batters and we’re not going to hide from that. It is the reality, and we are going to have lots of conversations about it and come up with plans to combat it,” he said.
Of his individual batting effort which earned him the Man-of-the-Match award, Pollard said, “obviously it’s going to be up there,” among his best performances.
“This is international cricket. This is not franchise and club cricket and getting the opportunity to do that was fantastic and I thank God for small mercies and giving me the strength to do that. So, I will continue to carry on as an individual and try to do what is required for the team at that point in time.”
Asked what he was thing before the final ball of the over, Pollard explained:“A couple things went through my mind after the fifth six; do I just survive the rest of the over because I have already gotten 30 or do, I just continue?
“I knew I had the bowler on the back foot, and he went around the wicket and I said ‘you know what Polly, take the chance. You are damned if you do and damned if you don’t’ and that’s how I have played my cricket throughout especially with spinners bowling. So, it came off tonight and unfortunately, I couldn’t go on but again most important was the victory.”