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HindustanTimes Tue,23 Sep 2014

Cricket Columns

World Cup opener: the irony of luck
Atul Sondhi
March 14, 2007
First Published: 11:32 IST(14/3/2007)
Last Updated: 20:59 IST(15/3/2007)

The host’s first match against Pakistan was full of twists and turns. And even as the West Indies won by a whopping margin of 54 in the end, the going was all but smooth.

 

Pakistan did begin well, but failed to rub it in. That made all the difference in the end.

 

Gayle factor

 

When Gayle, West Indies most lethal player and one of world’s best opener, was out for a partly two in the inaugural match, for most fans, the hosts had straightaway been put on the backfoot against Pakistan.

 

Still, statistically speaking, Gayle’s cheap dismissal also sparks a renewed determination among the rest of the batsmen when facing Pakistan.  In seven matches that the West Indies have won against Pakistan with Gayle in the side (Before Tuesday’s encounter), the Southpaw averages less than 20 while in 15 matches lost against Pakistan, Gayle’s average is over 30. So generally when Gayle performs very well, the West Indies perish. West Indies have lost all the four matches against Pak when Gayle scored 50+.

 

Gayle against Pakistan

(Before the World Cup)

 

Matches

Runs

Avg

100s

50s

WI Lost

15

467

31.13

1

3

WI Won

7

128

18.28

0

0

Probably, when Gayle succeeds, it breeds a false sense of complacency, which was not there in the tournament opener. So while his dismissal may have sparked celebrations among the Pakistan camp, in the West Indies camp, it led to even more determined look.

 

Dropped catch

 

There is a world of a difference between seven for one and seven for two. Especially when the batsman who has got the life happens to be Ramnaresh Sarwan.

 

The catch dropped off the bowling of Umar Gul at second slip may have come extremely fast at Younis Khan, but had he grabbed it, he would have finished a  partnership of 56 runs on the very first ball.  And that turned out to be two runs more than the eventual difference between the scores of Pakistan and the West Indies.


Failure to rub it in

 

Whenever Pakistan got one wicket, they chipped in with another or created a chance for another.  One for seven could have been two for seven, Well set Chanderpaul’s wicket at 64 was followed by Sarwan’s 13 runs later, 

 

Between the 41st  and 45th over, the West Indies lost three wickets of Lara, Samuel and Ramdin. Still they were allowed get into the striking distance of a reasonably competitive score, eventually finishing at 241.

 

Probably Pakistan did miss Shoaib and Asif in such situations. While it would have been Asif’s first match against the West Indies, Shoaib has played seven matches with a reasonable economy of 4.45, but more importantly, 10 wickets. 

 

In fact, in his last two matches against the West Indies  (2004 ICC championship semifinal and a VB Series match), Shoaib has only conceded 25 runs from his 9.5 overs while taking two wickets. He could have given the West Indies a run for their money. However, his and Asif’s absence in the slog overs meant the last five overs fetched the West Indies as many as 57 runs.

 

If we take the innings progress of both the teams, at the end of 30 overs, Pakistan and West Indies were running virtually neck and neck. The real difference came between 31st and 40th overs when Pakistan lost two critical middle order wickets while the West Indies stepped up the tempo, adding 55 runs  without losing any wicket.

 

Two team’s progress in the match 

Overs

West Indies

Pakistan

1 – 10

41-1

37-2

11-20

28-1

27-1

21-30

32-1

41-1

31-40

55-0

38-2

41-till end

85-6

 44-4

Final Scores

241-9

187-10

So in the end, the tournament hosts were a worthy winner of the contest. They kept their cool despite all the pressure while the Pakistan’s bowling never came to terms with the absence of two of their superstars – Asif and Shoaib.

 

Now the pressure is on Pakistan. They will have to win both of their next two matches to ensure qualification for the next round of super eight.


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