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Powell: 'Series will be decided on how West Indies bat spin in middle overs'

The West Indies captain agrees that his team could have done with an additional spinner in the XI

ESPNcricinfo staff
04-Aug-2023 • 53 mins ago
After winning the first of five T20Is against India on Thursday, Rovman Powell said that West Indies' batting against India's spinners in the middle overs will hold the key to the outcome of the series.
"It was difficult," Powell said of West Indies' slowdown in the middle overs - they went from 54 for 2 after six overs to 96 for 3 after 14 - in the first T20I. "We always knew that the new ball was going to give us runs. It was always going to be a good powerplay and then it [was going to] slow down in the middle, because they have a lot of very good spinners.
"This series will be decided on how West Indian batters bat spin in those middle overs. If we bat spin good during the middle overs, then we have lot of batters at the back end and we have a lot of power in the back end. That makes left-handers - [Shimron] Hetmyer, [Nicholas] Pooran and Kyle Mayers - very, very important for those middle overs.
"It was going to be difficult to start, it's always difficult to start in the Caribbean. But once you get a start, runs is there."
After losing the ODI series 2-1, West Indies fought hard to clinch the first T20I in Tarouba narrowly by four runs after putting up 149 for 6.
On a slow and tricky pitch, India's spin trio of Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal and Axar Patel bowled a combined nine overs, accounting for three of the six West Indies wickets to fall. When Pooran left West Indies at 96 for 4 in the 15th over after a 34-ball 41, it was Powell's 48 off 32 balls that lifted the team to what seemed like a below-par total at the halfway point.
While India played with three spinners, West Indies opted for just one specialist spinner in Akeal Hosein. The left-arm spinner gave away just 17 runs in four overs, bowling 14 dots and also removing Shubman Gill in the third over of the chase. Though Jason Holder's 2 for 19 - including a double-wicket maiden - took West Indies home in the end, did West Indies miss an extra spinner?
"Yeah, after watching what the Indians bowled, I was thinking if we were a spinner short, to be honest," he said. "But we've got to utilise what we have, and back our skills. We know what our fast bowlers bowl, with many change-ups, it will be difficult for the Indians."
The game was still evenly poised when India needed ten off the last over with three wickets in hand. However, Romario Shepherd bowled an excellent final over where he conceded just four runs and knocked off Kuldeep and effected a run out to dismiss Arshdeep Singh, stopping India at 145.
"I think it was a game [for West Indies] to lose, to be honest," Powell said of the last over. "Because they didn't have a set batter, one of their top six batters wasn't there. So I was confident going into the last over.
"Not just the 18th over, he [Holder] summed up the conditions very well. At the interval, he tells us in the dressing room that 'pace off - force the Indians to hit the ball, not use the pace'. And I think today Jase was fantastic."