West Indies finds subcontinent weapon in Rahkeem Cornwall

West Indies' Rahkeem Cornwall bowls against India during day one of the second Test cricket match at Sabina Park cricket ground in Kingston, Jamaica Friday, Aug. 30, 2019.
Associated Press / Ricardo Mazalan, file

West Indies off-spinning allrounder Rahkeem Cornwall’s “accuracy, calm head and ability to bowl long” make him invaluable to the Caribbean team, reported ESPNcricinfo on Sunday.

“Whether Cornwall intends to or not, he seems to have a calming influence on the West Indies team.,” it said. “It was evident even when he was getting hit for sixes. He didn’t let out his frustration.

“Regardless of how the game played out at the other end, Cornwall remained accurate and relentless with the ball in hand,” ESPNcricinfo added. “The ball came down from his six and a half feet height in search of the outside edge for 30 straight overs, and the assurance that it would happen kept West Indies going.”

It noted “the big man” took three catches to go with his nine wickets in the second and final Test against Bangladesh that ended on Sunday.

With the ball, ESPNcricinfo said Cornwall provided West Indies interim skipper Kraigg Brathwaite with “one incisive over after another.”

He had Najmul Hossain Shanto and Mohammad Mithun caught at short-leg; “both batsmen lulled into one motion of playing his offspinner, particularly on a fourth-day pitch,” ESPNcricinfo said.

“Both dismissals saw the delivery turn sharply into the left-handed Shanto and the right-handed Mithun, respectively,” it added. “Cornwall’s turn, from his accuracy, forced both batsmen into pressing at the ball.

“Liton Das was his third wicket, caught behind trying to play the cut shot,” Cricinfo continued. “Again, a batsman trying to force him away after being kept quiet. Cornwall’s fourth wicket was Taijul Islam who was trapped lbw.

“He kept offering more and more deliveries that were a hair’s breadth from the bat’s edge or the stumps, or teased a close-in fielder,” it said. “It was that kind of a day, that kind of Test, and that kind of series for Cornwall. He deservedly took the man of the match award for his nine wickets and the catches. But, for West Indies, Cornwall was much more than that.”

Cricinfo said while Cornwall wasn’t talked up a whole lot pre-tour, which increased after he took a five-for in a three-day game before the Tests, “he was the only bowler everyone would talk about in Zoom press conferences.”

It said Cornwall’s performance in the Lucknow Test a couple of years ago “played a part, but so did the novelty of Cornwall.”

Cricinfo said it was hard to get excited about many of the West Indies players in this series, particularly after how they played in the ODIs, but it added that Cornwall then bowled 42.4 overs in the first innings of the Chattogram Test.

“His two-wicket over in the second innings was a warning that if Bangladesh had to beat West Indies, Cornwall needed to be blunted,” it said. “Instead, Bangladesh believed hitting him out of the attack was the only option. And Cornwall kept on coming, bowling unchanged for 21 overs in the first innings, in which he took a five-wicket haul, and 30 overs in the second innings, to complete nine wickets for the match.

“You perhaps don’t need to do too much to a batting line-up that buzzes at the first sight of flight, and swats at anything with width,” Cricinfo added. “But those subtle changes in line and the inches he varied in length made Cornwall a remarkable bowler in Chattogram and Dhaka.

“He might take a bit of time to get up from his haunches, he might only walk from one end of the stumps to the other, from slip to bowling mark, but he is mighty effective, and now gives West Indies a necessary weapon to do better in the subcontinent,” it continued.

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