Yaseen Rana profiles the West Indian who might be Chris Gayle’s heir.
TEAMS: West Indies, Trinidad and Tobago
ROLE: Left-hand opening batsman
WHO THE HELL? An explosive southpaw who specialises in the shorter formats, it should come as no surprise that Lewis cites Chris Gayle as his mentor. Despite still being in the infancy of his international career, the Trinidadian is already one of just three players to have scored multiple T20I hundreds, the others being Gayle and Brendon McCullum. Decent company.
WHAT’S HIS STORY? A former under 19 international, Lewis’ potential took some time to come to fruition – he played four seasons of professional cricket before hitting his first century. The 2013 Champions League in India marked a watershed in his career, as he bludgeoned 70 from 53 deliveries against Titans and 62 from 46 in Trinidad and Tobago’s semi-final defeat to eventual winners Mumbai Indians. The following year he averaged 40 in the Caribbean Premier League, which helped him land his first overseas contract, in the Bangladesh Premier League (BPL).
GOOD TIMES? An unbeaten ton in his debut BPL season for Barisal Bulls earned Lewis a call-up to the West Indies squad for their triumphant 2016 World T20 campaign, although Lewis featured only once, making a seven-ball duck against Afghanistan on debut. He bounced back from that disappointment to hit a T20I century against India and then a magnificent 148 in his fourth ODI appearance, versus Sri Lanka, when he nearly singlehandedly won the game for his team. Lewis created more headlines in July when, opening up with Gayle in a T20I in Jamaica, he blitzed an unbeaten 125 from 62 deliveries, featuring 12 sixes, to chase down India’s 190.
CHALLENGES? Consistency is the watchword for Lewis. If you take his four eye-catching hundreds out of the equation, he has passed 50 just twice in 29 international innings. If Lewis can find the reliability to match his raw power, and learn to adapt his game to the match situation, then West Indies will have a fearsome prospect on their hands.
FINAL WORD: “There weren’t any mad swings of the bat. It was just controlled aggression and we all knew Evin Lewis could do that.” – West Indies coach Stuart Law after Lewis’ 125 not out against India