“That’s the main focus” – Chase admits WI need to improve their middle-overs batting

West Indies will take on South Africa in the 50th match of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2024. The clash will take place at Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in North Sound, Antigua. This is the final game of the Super 8 stage for both these teams and hence they will look only to win to make sure they qualify for the semi-finals of the global showpiece event.

Needing to win three out of three to win a home World Cup and recreate the joy they did at Kensington Oval when they beat USA, West Indies clearly know where they need to get better: when they are batting in the middle overs.

Both their average and run-rate have been the lowest in that phase this World Cup. They are losing a wicket every 20 balls in the middle overs despite scoring just 123 per 100 balls. Even these numbers make them look better than they have been as it includes the onslaught against USA when they were assured of a win and had to go hard in order to improve their net run-rate.

It was in the middle overs against England, their only defeat so far, that West Indies let the game slip away. Especially in the first half of the middle overs, when they scored just 40 runs from overs seven to 11 in batting-friendly conditions. They had resolved to do better in those periods but never got tested when they played USA.

“When we lost to England, we struggled in that period after the powerplay,” Roston Chase admitted. “I mean USA and South Africa is two different opponents, but we spoke about that, and the guys came out and executed it well today. It was only four overs outside of the powerplay, but that’s the main focus, because we know we have the power at the end. So it’s just for us to control that powerplay with the batting and our bowling, and then for us in the batting to keep the momentum going through that 7 to 15 period where we fell down horribly against England.”

Middle overs is also where Chase might have a role to play. Just to be able to stay busy and not starve the in-form hitter of the strike. “Easy for me because my job is just to give them the strike and let them hit it for six,” Chase joked when asked how it was playing in a team full of power hitters. “So that’s right up my alley. I guess that’s why I’m pencilled in at 4 to just be that transition between the boundaries and just keeping the strike rotated as well. Because I find that most of the time the boundary hitters, they usually hit boundaries, but then they may get a few dot balls. And then it equals out the equation. But if you have me there just to stroke it around and look nice, that’s good.”

If he hasn’t batted till the 10th or the 11th over, though, Chase’s role is likely to be restricted to bowling in the middle overs and fielding at backward point, where he pulled off a stunning catch against USA.

“If I see 10 overs come and I haven’t gone up there yet, I just keep my eyes on Rovman [Powell, the captain] all the time,” Chase said. “Once I see he give me a look, I go, yeah. Yeah, it’s for the better of the team. And the guys go out there and execute and give it their all. I’m happy with that.”

In the absence of Brandon King, West Indies are now likely to open with Shai Hope, who was tried in the Chase role once earlier during the tournament. If Hope bats through into the middle overs, he is not the one to get bogged down.

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