Jul 14, 2013 Sports
Colin E. H. Croft
West Indies v Pakistan, two teams as evenly matched and as mercurial as could be, play ODI’s and T-20’s starting this weekend.
Expect fireworks, given the gathered personnel. But, from which team?
Both teams, to their chagrin, might not want to accept it, but they could learn much from the marauding Indians, as to how to be really consistent winners, not just sporadic victors, now and then.
Guyanese always suggest; “Yuh gaf fo’ mek yuh own luck!”
That is exactly what India does.
Since becoming ICC Cricket World Cup champions, 2011, India has learned how to win consistently.
They may not always be triumphant in every individual game. Indeed, they even lose an ODI series here and there, but they have evolved as a closely knit unit of contributing players, each individual taking his own personal efforts to mean 100%, causing the team to win almost every war.
They aptly demonstrated that last week, when they won that final in Trinidad & Tobago, as they similarly did at winning Champions Trophy 2013. There is much thrash bandied around that India, with its considerable finances, controls cricket itself.
Maybe that is so, or not, but when their eleven representatives enter playing arenas, they can only then depend on themselves, and not just hype, or money, to win well.
That they have done, with some aplomb!
It is no fluke that whatever India does now comes up golden!
Champions Trophy 2013 was a revelation that India has matured and arrived as one of the best ever one-day teams, not the one-off scenario of just winning 1983’s World Cup. India is now a properly engineered, populated and activated entity that destroys other teams’ confidence.
They actually played through Champions Trophy 2013 unbeaten, playing South Africa, West Indies, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and England.
Each of these, in reality, with their pedigree and special ODI histories, could, maybe even should, have also won CT-2013.
Three of those teams had won either World Cups or Champions Trophy in the past.
Somehow, though, try as they might, Sri Lanka cannot seem to ride their own hopes, now that India is on such a roll. In CT-2013, India devoured the Lankans by a huge margin, eight wickets in their semi-final.
As has been, it seems, the case for ages now, Sri Lanka was underdone, again depending way too much on only imperious Kumar Sangakkara. His 71 in an under par 201 was the innings’ only half century.
India bowled brilliantly, squeezing Lankan wickets at very opportune times, especially when “Sanga” and Lahiru Thirimanne, whose 46 was so invaluable, were putting on 122 for that 3rd wicket.
That Sri Lanka subsided from 3-171; 38th over; to being all out for 201; 49th over; tells much about tenacity and tightness of India’s bowling, and intuitive field placing from returning captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
The two “Ravis”, Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin, were magnificent, with counteracting styles.
Jadeja tantalized with his slow left arm orthodox, while Ashwin put the squeeze on Sri Lanka with superb flight, speed, spin and accuracy. Six wickets for 65 runs, from eighteen overs, tells that story.
When India batted, Rangana Herath continued the subtlety shown by Jadeja, Sri Lanka’s SLA also making India work quite hard. On another day, Herath’s 4-20 should have been a match-winning effort.
But that is where India’s luck, evolving from its massive confidence, a confidence that comes from winning events, games and tournaments regularly, came in, in the imposing form, and bat, of its captain, MSD.
Chasing a relatively meagre 202 for another series victory, India were almost gone at 8-167, then 9-182. Dhoni, though, took on that great responsibility of captaincy; to win, regardless of circumstances.
I remember Australia’s then captain, Steve Waugh, 1999 World Cup, suggesting in the press room, after his team had emerged from a trying time, just qualifying for semi-finals, eventually winning that tournament:
“Crofty, we could not go back to tell 18 million people that we have failed!”
That is the great responsibility of leadership, that utmost understanding of proper representation.
There was no hype in Australia and Waugh then, nor any hype in India and Dhoni now.
All they have in common is that real appreciation of not only wanting to win, but of actually winning!
Disappointingly, Queen’s Park Oval prepared pitches that could not be deemed commendable.
Batting at QPO the last two weeks was too much like a lottery, as displayed in that crucial two day game featuring West Indies and Sri Lanka. One day it was so spiteful, the next, almost smooth!
Now, Pakistan and West Indies start at Guyana’s National Stadium.
Already, both recent West Indies captains, Dwayne Bravo and Kieron Pollard, have apologized and lamented their batsmen’s failures.
Like Dhoni, even Waugh ages ago, Bravo and Pollard now have to follow that rhetoric with more actions.
Pakistan, like Sri Lanka and Sangakkara, depends much on captain Misbah-ul-Haq, as seen in C-T-2013, but do not underestimate Mohammad Haffeez and company; ever.
West Indies, now properly practiced, will need to put very best efforts forward, to beat Pakistan. Enjoy!
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