Batsmen who reached India in anticipation of a run feast will be disappointed. The pitches so far have not been batsman-friendly. The one at the Brabourne has received a flak for being below international standard and it’s unfortunate the West Indies have played two matches on it. While it did look better on Wednesday, it is still not an ideal one-day surface.
The Jaipur pitch is better, but the dew factor is going to be huge in all games at this venue. Hospitality, facilities, and great dressing rooms can only get you that far. Most players would have preferred good, true surfaces. The West Indies’ batting performance against Australia would have gone a long way in restoring their self-confidence. The pitch looked better than the one used in the West Indies-Sri Lanka game but a few balls did keep low. Once again, Lara’s presence transformed the situation and he played a brilliant knock. He not only pulled his side from a precarious 63 for 4, but it was his presence that acted as a confidence-booster for Runako Morton.
The latter was a lot more assured because he knew his captain was at the other end. Perhaps the West Indians took a leaf out of Kiwi’s book and ensured they played as many overs as possible. At one stage 250 looked possible, but 234 was not bad, since the pitch deteriorates significantly at the Brabourne Stadium.
The West Indies rely too much on Chris Gayle and Lara. Today, the presence of the latter made all the difference. I hope the middle order realises it is not possible for Gayle to always play a blinder. They too must take responsibility when the top order has not done the job.
A good side is one where one player stands up when his team-mates have had a bad day. It’s no good for the middle order to fire when Gayle or Lara has taken them to the threshold of a good score. They must learn to fire when the chips are down. This is why I am happy with the way Morton played.
The week started with the awful news of a dope scandal. The Shoaib-Asif affair is really saddening, but I would not like to comment till more details emerge. However, Pakistan showed great resilience and spirit to win against an in-form Sri Lanka.
Adversity can often act as a unifying force, and this was evident in the last World Cup, when the Australians rallied around even though Warne was sent home for similar reasons. Pakistan reacted in the same way last night, and remain a major threat in the competition.