BASSETERRE, St Kitts, CMC – Batting coach Toby Radford has backed West Indies’ power-hitters to come good against Afghanistan but has warned them against taking the minnows for granted in the three-match Twenty20 International series starting here today.
The Caribbean side boast the likes of global T20 stars Kieron Pollard, Marlon Samuels and Lendl Simmons and have already been tipped as heavy favourites to sweep the series against a side which still only has ICC Associate status.
However, Radford said Afghanistan possessed a dangerous spin attack and stressed the Windies needed to be careful in their approach.
“Watching Afghanistan playing against the President’s XI [in Tuesday’s tour match] and they’ve got a couple of very good spinners so their strength tends to be in their spin bowling department so clearly from a batting point of view, I want us to play those spinners really well,” Radford said here.
“We’ve got a dynamic batting line-up and I think if it really fires then hopefully we can see some fireworks and some really good performances but we certainly don’t take them (Afghanistan) lightly.
“They are a side that have improved a lot over the last couple of years and we’ve got to be fully focused and play our best cricket.”
West Indies are the reigning T20 World champions following their triumph in India last year but have been a shadow of themselves in recent outings, losing six of their last seven matches – all to Pakistan.
In contrast, the Afghan side are unbeaten in their last 11 T20 Internationals and were also good enough to inflict a humbling defeat on the Windies during last year’s T20 World Cup.
Radford said even though West Indies were confident, it was important they still batted sensibly and not become reckless.
“When we played Pakistan recently on some of those spinning pitches it was quite tough picking the leg-spinner (Shadab Khan),” the Englishman said.
“They’ve got a very good leg-spinner (Rashid Khan) who tends to bowl a lot of googlies so playing straight, playing up and down the ground, rotating the strike, make sure you’re picking up singles [will be important], and as soon as you get your bad balls then putting them away.”
He continued: “But I think not being reckless – building good partnerships, everyone taking responsibility and playing to their full potential [is critical] because clearly we’ve got some world class players, players who have just come back from the IPL and if they play to their fullest, we should be posting some good scores.”
West Indies will also look to the likes of opener Evin Lewis who has impressed in his nine T20. Is with a hundred a half-century, and Jason Mohammed whose prolific one-day form recently earned him a call-up to the T20 side. Radford believes both players can play key roles during the upcoming series.
“Evin Lewis is a very explosive batter and we’ve seen him play some excellent innings already … so we know at his best he gets us off to a flier so we hope that’s how he’s going to play,” he explained.
“Jason Mohammed [has had] a couple of good innings in 50-overs cricket against England and recently against Pakistan and has played spin especially well, so he can play a big part here.”
The first T20I bowls off today at Warner Park at 7:30 pm.