Batting under microscope as Windies bid to level seriesFriday, June 18, 2021
GROS ISLET, St Lucia (CMC) — West Indies' batting came squarely under the microscope on Thursday's eve of the the decisive second Test, with captain Kraigg Brathwaite urging his side to be disciplined, but positive, in a bid to square the two-match rubber and avoid their first series defeat of the year.
The home side's batting was palpably at fault for the heavy innings and 63-run defeat in the opening Test, which never got past lunch on the third day last Saturday.
Strangely opting to bat first, West Indies were rolled over for 97 — their lowest ever total against South Africa — and fared little better in their second go around, dismissed for 162 in two sessions.
Captain Kraigg Brathwaite, the leader of his side's batting as the most experienced with 69 Tests, said while they had put the last weekend's debacle behind them, they had taken valuable learning from the experience.
“The guys are in very good spirits and pretty much looking forward to the next Test. The first game is behind us. The guys are really looking forward to the last game [of the series],” Brathwaite told a virtual media conference.
“Mentally, it's to get your mind in that place in terms of that positivity inside yourself that you know you can get the job done.
“Looking at some of the dismissals, as batsmen we saw some of them (deliveries) we could leave, [though] it is pretty easy to say you could leave some of the balls.
“In terms of the areas we saw the balls where they were pitched, [they were] obviously not on the stumps so I think as batsmen we did agree we could leave balls better especially in some periods.
“I thought they were periods we left balls well but it's consistently doing that consistently throughout a day's play.”
He added: “But we still have to stick to our plans because batting is about scoring runs so it's still the mixture [of discipline and positivity]. But I think the pressure they will create, you will obviously have to leave a good set of balls.
“We do agree, we can leave better but I just want to urge the batsmen to continue backing their plans and obviously backing their plans is obviously scoring runs as well.”
In both innings, West Indies wilted under the pressure of the South Africa's seam attack, Lungi Ngidi doing the trick with a five-wicket haul in the first innings before Kagiso Rabada followed suit in the second.
The pacy Anrich Nortje also played a critical role in both innings to finish the match with a seven-wicket haul, while also putting Nkrumah Bonner out of the match and series with a brutal short-pitched delivery which clattered the right-hander on the helmet and resulted in a concussion.
And though West Indies also struggled against pace in their 2-0 humiliation in New Zealand last December, Brathwaite pushed back on the suggestion the batting unit could not cope with quality fast bowling.
“I don't think that's the case. South Africa bowled well and we didn't bat well in the first innings,” he argued.
“We've got to be tough in any Test game as a batsman. You always have to be tough whether it is pacers or spinners we're facing and I think the batsmen are in a good space, but I wouldn't say it is the pace and bounce.
“Obviously South Africa have a good bowling attack but I know our batters are fully capable of doing well.”
West Indies have made two changes to their 13-man squad for the Test, recalling fit-again speedster Shannon Gabriel and drafting in experienced left-hander Darren Bravo.
The experienced Gabriel will be expected to find his way into the XI and strengthen the pace attack, which included impressive debutant 19-year-old Jayden Seales for the last Test.
But Brathwaite pointed out that whether bowling or batting, West Indies needed to produce the same intensity if they were to level the series.
“Obviously as a team you always want to win and do well but obviously you can't always do that,” he explained.
“I think the key thing is learning from the loss, and as a team we did from a batting perspective and a bowling, and for me it's just to urge the fellas to keep backing their plans.
“It's easy to doubt yourself at times … but we had a good practice session yesterday and the guys are looking well. We've got to enjoy it as a team.
“I think the bowlers did a good job but we've got to keep going, we can't just relax as a bowling unit. And the batters, we learnt a lot so we have to keep backing that plan despite what may have happened before [in the first Test].”
West Indies have not beaten South Africa in a Test series in nearly three decades.
WEST INDIES — Kraigg Brathwaite (captain), Jermaine Blackwood (vice-captain), Darren Bravo, Roston Chase, Rahkeem Cornwall, Joshua Da Silva, Shannon Gabriel, Jason Holder, Shai Hope, Kyle Mayers, Kieran Powell, Kemar Roach, Jayden Seales.
SOUTH AFRICA — Dean Elgar (captain), Temba Bavuma (vice captain), Quinton de Kock, Sarel Erwee, Beuran Hendricks, George Linde, Keshav Maharaj, Lungi Ngidi, Aiden Markram, Wiaan Mulder, Anrich Nortje, Keegan Peterson , Kagiso Rabada, Rassie van der Dussen, Kyle Verreynne, Tabraiz Shamsi, Lizaad Williams , Prenelan Subrayen, Marco Jansen.
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