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'How we turned the world upside down!'

india Updated: Oct 09, 2006 14:19 IST

West Indian captain Brian Lara led his team of no-hopers to the title in the 2004, beating England in the final after being reduced to 147 for 8 when chasing 218 for victory. In an exclusive interview, Lara revisits that magnificent triumph:

What did you tell your boys when you arrived in England as rank outsiders?

I think nobody expected us to win, so there was no pressure on us. We had not been playing good cricket for quite some time. I motivated my players by telling them that they represent the West Indies and must remember the great heritage of our cricket.

What was your honest appraisal of your team's strengths and weaknesses at the start of the tournament?

As I said, we had not been playing good cricket at all. But we did have a few new faces in the team alongside some experienced guys. We had to concentrate hard to make overall improvement in the game. And I must say we peaked gradually.

What do you believe was the turning point for your team?

Defeating Pakistan, I think. The match was played at Rose Bowl, the home ground of Hampshire. Shoaib Akhtar was at his peak, but we managed to beat them. That win gave us immense confidence and we started believing in ourselves.

What was the mood in the dressing room when Courtney Browne and Ian Bradshaw got together at that crucial juncture?

It was to be our day. It was dark in the field and the umpires were constantly asking the batsmen to stop the match. That they (Brown and Bradshaw) did not come back to the pavilion and accepted the option of resuming the match the next day speaks volumes about their determination.

In fact, I did not send any instructions to them. They were the ones playing in the middle, and I thought they were sensible enough to decide for themselves and play accordingly. We were all anxious and hoping for something good to happen.

How did the team react to that incredible Browne-Bradshaw partnership?

I still remember we were standing in the balcony adjacent to the dressing room and a lot of our supporters in the ground were on the boundary , hoping and praying that the duo would win the match for us. A lot of our fans were really upset that they were not present at the ground to be witness to a historic win and share the excitement and joy with us.

What did the win mean to cricket in the Caribbean?

It was the first major international tournament victory after the 1979 World Cup for us. The people were naturally overjoyed, more so as no one expected us to win the title.

Despite being the defending champions, you will be playing the qualifying rounds this time against Zimbabwe, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. What do you feel about this? Is it back to square one for your team?

We are not happy about it at all. We are the defending champions and should not be playing the qualifying rounds. But what can we do about it except expressing our displeasure!

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