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'West Indies' spirit gives me hope'

It was good to see the WI start the Champions Trophy like defending champions with a thrilling win over Oz, writes Viv Richards.

india Updated: Oct 26, 2006 00:53 IST

It was wonderful to see the West Indians start the group stage of Champions Trophy like defending champions with a thrilling win over Australia. It was a spirited and passionate performance, one that gives me plenty of hope.

Runako Morton has always been a magnificent prospect for the team, but he has had problems focusing on the game. He seems to have got past all that and I hope he’d get a longer run in the side. He has often been unable to rotate the strike, but if he is confident of his place in the side, he has the talent to overcome these problems.

I was also proud to see the wonderful manner in which Brian Lara planned and played in that game. He was smart to hold himself back, and that went a long way in negating the spinners. More importantly, he was a great example for Morton, and the latter gained confidence from his captain.

The fielding effort was also magnificent. I was happy to see Chris Gayle, who always seems to keep his emotions in the cupboard, play with such obvious passion. True, he got slapped with a fine for grooving at the top of his run-up and chatting up Michael Clarke, but it was good to see him drop his “cool dude” façade and react emotionally.

Similarly, Ramnaresh Sarwan has not been among runs of late but I hope the way he led on field and kept his nerve will instil some confidence in him.

Finally, I feel proud that Jerome Taylor, a youngster who made his debut when I was the Chairman of Selectors, has proved himself worthy of the faith reposed in him.

He was considered too young for international cricket, but talent is not a slave to age and I am glad he is showcasing his potential. He is a natural athlete with a relaxed action, so I hope he would avoid the injuries that have plagued so many of his contemporaries.

The Indians will be keen to win the game because that will give them some breathing space against the Australians in their last group game. This is the tougher group and there is a strong likelihood that three teams will end up with two wins each. I am sure statisticians of all three teams will be working overtime to ensure they know what the run rate equation is.

The Indians would also be keen to avenge the ODI series loss they suffered in the West Indies. Players like Rahul Dravid and Yuvraj Singh are due for a big score, and the West Indians will have to bowl really well to restrict them.

India’s bowlers are in good form too, and I am sure Sachin Tendulkar, who was absent from that West Indian tour, will have a couple of things to prove. I am told he likes playing here and has scored heaps of runs in Ahmedabad, so I would watch out for him.