This has been a unique World Cup in many ways, beginning with the early exit of India and Pakistan, and then dragging along with the Super Eights when the semifinalists had long been decided. However, with Bangladesh and Ireland qualifying, this situation was more or less inevitable and thus, there were quite a few lopsided matches. Had India and Pakistan qualified, we would most certainly have seen a lot more matches go down to the wire.
As it is, the Super Eights have dragged on and we’re still stuck in Grenada, despite having played our last match here on Wednesday. We don’t leave for Jamaica until Sunday, which means we only have one day to get used to the conditions before we play New Zealand in the semifinal on Tuesday.
That situation is not exactly ideal because we’ve not had a single match in Jamaica, and conditions there are significantly different from Grenada, and we will have to be content with what we have seen on TV. However, lest anyone should think we’ll allow this to impact our performance, perish the thought!
New Zealand’s huge loss to Australia in their encounter on Friday means that they will have to recover quite a lot of lost ground before the semifinal. The Kiwis rested Shane Bond and Jacob Oram and not much has been said about that as yet, in contrast to the hue and cry that followed our resting of Vaas and Muralitharan.
The outcry was truly surprising because we have been mindful of looking after these two for a long time. We left them out of our pre-World Cup tour of India for the same reason, and it just happened that the World Cup game that we rested them for was against Australia. Ricky Ponting too had something to say on the issue, and we hope to have an answer ready for him if we face off in the final.
For now, though, we are focussing on New Zealand, who will have Bond and Oram back in the side on Tuesday. We, too, will have Lasith Malinga missing in action for three games back in the team, so we’re back to full strength.
Off the field, Brian Lara’s sudden decision to retire from the game has taken us somewhat by surprise. The conversation around the Sri Lankan team makes it clear that most of the boys had expected him to carry on playing Tests for another season or two.
However, the West Indies’ performance had put his position as captain under scrutiny a la Michael Vaughan though at the end of the day, the Windies can’t really single out anyone for their defeats.
Whether it was the weight of expectations or under-preparedness, the team looked extremely timid and hesitant throughout the tournament.
In fact, the closest they came to looking threatening was during the opening ceremony in Jamaica, wearing their shades even though it was evening.
It is sad that Lara has had to depart on a losing note because he is going to be remembered as a legend. However, that is in the past, and we are concentrating on the present.