Familiarity breeds confidence
Bravo feels IPL exposure evens out the field as far as conditions are concerned. N Ananthanarayanan reports.cricket Updated: Feb 23, 2011 00:14 IST
They were the pioneers, who won the first two one-day World Cups. The last time the tournament was played in the sub-continent, it required the genius of Shane Warne to deny them a place in the final, after an electric semi-final against Australia went to the wire.
But these are dire times. West Indies have not beaten a Test team in an ODI since their win over India at home in June 2009. They have played 25 games since then but have only beaten Associate teams.
And the last time they faced South Africa, their opponents in Thursday’s World Cup tie at the Ferozshah Kotla, they were routed 5-0 at home last year. They also lost their last two games, in Sri Lanka, before arriving in New Delhi to begin their campaign.
However, vice-captain Dwayne Bravo believes the recent record, highlighting the slide of the once mighty Caribbeans, will not weigh on the players. On the other hand, he is confident their all-rounders and familiarity with the sub-continent conditions thanks to stints in the Indian Premier League (IPL) will guide them through the tournament.
“In the last World Cup we didn’t get far, but this is a fresh one,” Bravo told reporters after Tuesday’s net session. “There are a lot of new faces in our team. In the sub-continent, all-round abilities are going to play a big part.
“The conditions are similar to the pitches back in the West Indies, and that is the advantage we have compared to some of the other teams that have played on hard, bouncy surfaces.
“A lot of players in lot of teams, because of the IPL, have the opportunity to play in India. We've at least five or six players. Their experience will also come into play."
Bravo's lower order batting and slow-medium bowling, skipper Darren Samy's pace bowling, Keiron Pollard’;s pace and explosive batting — he is a big ticket player for Mumbai Indians — as well as Chris Gayle’s off-spin can prove crucial if West Indies put up a good show.
“We’re four top-quality all-rounders. On any given day, even if two of us have a good game, then the team will have a good chance of winning it,” Bravo said.
He felt the hosts made too many mistakes in last year’s home series against South Africa. But he was clear who were the favourites.
“South Africa are a very tough, balanced, positive, professional unit,” Bravo said. “A team I look upto and also love playing against. A lot of my good performances have come against South Africa.”
He still hoped the West Indies won’t disappoint this time. “We're in a state of rebuilding. This tournament is very important for the players and the people of the Caribbean. I have no doubt in my mind we will qualify for the second round. And we will take it from there.”