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West Indies is a bogey team for India

All of India's misery has come out of an encounter with one single team, writes Atul Sondhi.

india Updated: Oct 27, 2006 13:53 IST

Remember 1983. The Clive Lloyd-led West Indies were an unbeatable outfit having won two World Cups without losing a single match. It was almost sacrilegious to think that even teams like Australia and England, which boasted of world beaters as well, will beat them twice in a major tournament. 

But that is what India did. Then considered a very very ordinary ODI side, led by remarkable Kapil Dev but full of some just above average allrounders, they beat the mighty Lloyd's men once in the 1982-83 series in the Caribbean, and then came back to beat them twice in Prudential World cup to life the coveted trophy.

Three convincing victories over the World Champions in a span of just few months was simply mind boggling. The unprecedented feat made the world sit up and take notice of a new emerging superpower.

India went on to prove that this victory was no flash in the pan by winning the Benson and Hedges Mini World Cup two years later, trouncing teams like Pakistan, England and Australia in the group stage, and then beating New Zealand and Pakistan in the semis and the final.

May be the similar thing is happening now, but in a reverse way. Till May 20th,  India could do no wrong. Greg was the coaching marvel, Rahul was captain courageous, and India no longer a pretender to Australia's World Cup throne. An average Indian fan was convinced that the trophy was no longer a mirage.

But then Bravo castled Yuvraj and India cup of woe started. Top performers started failing with disturbing regularity and India went on to lose five consecutive matches against the West Indies. Against the very team that  had to suffer the ignominy of qualifying for  the Champions trophy despite being the defending champions!

India's worst losing sequences v WI

DefeatsFromToCaptain at start
913.10.198723.12.1987Kapil Dev
721.10.198813.10.1989Dilip Vengsarkar
520.05.200614.09.2006Rahul Dravid

But for a West Indies' abject and inexplicable surrender on September 20 when they failed to breach a very modest target of 162 at Kuala Lumpur, Rahul Dravid's team would have been seven matches down in a row! Just two short of its worst ever record. Small mercy, but no consolation!

In fact, three of the Key West Indies batsmen seem to be clicking against India in most matches, unleashing their full might. Sarwan, Lara and Gayle have been doing the maximum damage of late.

Lara may have failed on Thursday, but then another southpaw Chanderpaul, who had not clicked to well until on Thursday, came good when it mattered most.

Key WI batsmen v India 
 

 Before 20062006 till Champions Trophy
Gayle44.4443.71
Chanderpaul30.7422.60
Lara30.5445.20
Sarwan67.6378.00

 


Unlike the hosts of the 2007 World Cup, India has not been able to decide which is their best team. That has been their biggest undoing.

Going into Thursday's match, they omitted Kaif, of all batsmen, from the lineup. It was most surprising as Kaif had been the second best Indian batsmen in last five innings.

Averages of Indian key batsmen in last five innings
(before Thursday's game)

Tendulkar64.25
Kaif39.25
Yuvraj26.25
Raina18.00
Dravid8.60
Sehwag7.40


 


Raina, who averages only 18 this season despite having played 11 out of 12 matches, could have easily paved the way for Kaif. Kaif, strangely was played when not in form, but does not find favour when he looks like being back among runs.

The Middle order collapse ultimately resulted in a low score from India. With little more on board, India could have well avoided a knock-out game on Sunday. Rather, the West Indies, low on net-run rate would have been fighting the battle for survival.

This team has indeed become a bogey team for India.