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Fallen giants seek glory of yesteryear

india Updated: Feb 28, 2011 01:07 IST
N Ananthanarayanan
N Ananthanarayanan
Hindustan Times
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When all-rounder Dwayne Bravo crumpled to the pitch holding his knee in agony in their opening game against South Africa last week, West Indies lost their most valuable player for the rest of the tournament. The blow couldn't have been worse for a team weighed down as much by their current plight as their formidable reputation of the past.

The two-time champions have appeared a pale shadow of the team that last reached the semifinals, in 1996, the previous occasion the World Cup was staged in the sub-continent. West Indies haven't had a very poor record in major ODI tournaments in the last decade, but have clearly lacked consistency and had a woeful run ahead of coming here.

West Indies won the Champions Trophy in England in 2004, when Bravo played a key role, and again reached the final in Mumbai in 2006. However, the sense of purpose was missing even before they went down tamely to South Africa at the same Feroz Shah Kotla stadium where they face the Netherlands on Sunday.

The body language of the team has suggested a lack of ambition. Two days after it was confirmed that Bravo would be out for a month with ligament tear, West Indies were yet to name a replacement on the match eve.

That the Dutch, having run England close in their opening game, could even dare to think of another strong showing against West Indies reflected how much sheen the Caribbean side had lost.

Coach Ottis Gibson knows how it feels to lose to the Dutch. He was the England bowling coach when the Dutch stunned them in the World Twenty20 in 2009. "They beat England, and I remember the feeling in our dressing room and jubilation in their camp," he said. "Those guys, when they come into an event like this, bring in a lot of energy."

The energy has visibly diminished with Bravo's injury. "He brings in a lot of energy into the side with his fielding, bowling, and batting, and also with his presence in the dressing room," Gibson said.

The Dutch are getting ambitious, thanks to the brilliant all-round effort by Ryan ten Doeschate against England that has won them several admirers.

Netherlands skipper Peter Borren feels going halfway towards achieving a win won't mean much.

"Cricket fans may feel happy we gave England a close run, but that's not good enough for us. We want to put wins on the board."