“Inexplicable” was how the commentators had described Obed McCoy not dislodging the bails in the first T20I when R Ashwin was well short of his crease. McCoy just stood with the ball in hand while Ashwin threw in a dive to make his ground, missing out on a chance for a breakthrough in a game where India dominated West Indies in every facet.
Be that as it may, on Monday (August 1), at the Warner Park in St Kitts, McCoy didn’t leave a stone unturned in setting up his side’s series-levelling five-wicket win against India. West Indies rode on the back of McCoy’s historic 6-17 – the best figures for a West Indian bowler in T20Is, bundling India for their lowest total in a T20I in the Caribbean – just 138 in 19.4 overs. With his haul, McCoy joined a very elite group of five other bowlers among the full member sides to have picked up six wickets in a T20I.
What McCoy’s wrecking four-over spell did was highlight once again India’s weakness against left-arm seam. The other bowlers rallied around him effectively, but it was McCoy who set the tone for the day with a strike off the first ball of the game to have Rohit Sharma caught at backward point. It was a skiddy short delivery, but the extra bounce did the Indian captain in, as McCoy started with a maiden wicket.
McCoy’s angle to the right-handers continued to go away, enticing them to play the expansive drive. Off his first delivery against McCoy in the third over, Suryakumar Yadav perished in similar fashion, looking to drive a fuller delivery pitched across only to get a thick outside edge.
While the other bowlers pulled back their lengths, McCoy was unwavering from his plans. He was consistent with his lines, attacked the stumps and bowled fuller. “It’s a great feeling to perform against a top side like India,” said McCoy at the halfway stage. “You have to have a clear mind with your plans and assess the conditions. I only think of what I have to do, and then execute. It’s a great feeling to have the best figures.”
Execute he did, returning later in the innings to add to his tally of wickets removing Ravindra Jadeja, Dinesh Karthik, R Ashwin and Bhuvneshwar Kumar, breaking the backbone of India’s batting line-up single-handedly.
When McCoy made his IPL debut for Rajasthan Royals earlier in the year, the image that remains from that game is his celebration after picking his maiden IPL wicket. What tends to go under the rug was that he had defended 11 runs in the final over against Kolkata Knight Riders to hand his team a win. His exploits for RR in the IPL didn’t go unnoticed, but it was against the No.1 T20I side that he really came into his own to prove his mettle and why his reputation precedes him.
The psychological impact of losing Rohit off the first ball brought in a little caution in India’s otherwise aggressive approach. Wickets at regular intervals didn’t help them sustain any attempt at cranking up the aggression either. With the ball, it was the first time in 13 T20Is that India failed to pick a wicket in the Powerplay as Brandon King and Kyle Mayers gave West Indies a strong start. Although India made a great recovery and laid out many a hurdle for West Indies in the chase, the hosts managed to hold on and chase the target down in the final over with four balls to spare to pick up their first win in a T20I over India since 2019.
“I did this for my mom, she is home sick,” said McCoy after the game. “This is motivating me to be a better player. Thankful for it. (Rohit wicket) It put a lot of pressure on their batters. I always look for wickets in the powerplay because that stops batsmen from scoring runs in the powerplay. I went in with a clear mind (today). Was overthinking in the previous game. It gives me a lot of challenges and experience. Helps groom me as a player.”