Did WI throw away the match?
But if they did, why did they have to do it against India, wonders Atul Sondhi. Do you believe WI avoided facing Australia?india Updated: Sep 21, 2006 18:06 IST
The stunning beginning and an equally stunning end. What started with a procession of Indian wickets, ended with a reverse procession of the West Indies vanquished stars.
But, the way the match progressed, starting right from the West Indies team selection with just one strike-bowler to an ''ingenious'' batting order, it looked that the twice world champions simply did not want to win against India. Their reluctance to deliver the knock-out punch was astonishing.
Maybe, India were simply brilliant, but if it was a West Indies trick, only two reasons can account for it.
Preference for India as a finalist
Beating Australia in a heart-stopping contest on Monday had guaranteed the West Indies a place in the final. Any team, not too sure about its potential, would like to guarantee an easier opponent in the knockout round.
Did not Korea and Germany see to it that Holland were out of the hockey World Cup's semifinal stage? Did not New Zealand take it easy against Pakistan in the final round-robin match of the 1992 World Cup so that they could face them, rather than Australia in the semifinals?
That's another issue altogether that Pakistan went on to beat New Zealand in the semis and England in the final to win their only Cup!
Probably the West Indies did not mind India winning, as beating them would have surely ensured a title clash with Australia. Facing the combined might of Lee and McGrath is a far more threatening proposition than taking care of relatively friendly Indian pace brigade. Then why not give India a chance.
With five consecutive wins and two spread out losses against India in the last four months, West Indies should be the favourite against Dravid's boys, who have had a dismal year so far compared to a tremendous 2005.
Despite the helping hand from the West Indies, the chance is that Australia might still cruise through on Friday, as collectively the world champions are still superior to the Indian tigers.
Then what purpose does this surrender serve, where your artillery in Lara and Gayle comes after an infantry saddled with obsolete weaponry! Gayle batted at a position, number six, where he had never batted before in his life, and ditto for Lara. Experimentation is all right, but not collective suicide.
Gayle at various positions
Note: Gayle also played 3 matches at no. 7 scoring 13 runs at 4.33
Probably, the West Indies would like to see how a full-strength Australian team performs against India in order to devise their own strategy. A defeat for India might have prevented Aussies from unleashing their full might, and saving the likes of 'ageing but accurate' McGrath for Super Sunday.
Now that will be another big advantage for the West Indies. As the critical clash, the decisive round-robin match takes place just two days before the final, the West Indies will be far more fresher compared to the other side.
Lara's men certainly won't mind India and Australia tiring each other out!
However, there is a flip side to the experiment, which the West Indies may have undertaken. It has once against ensured that their batsmen, when under pressure, tend to dance to Collapso music. It has happened three times in the last four matches. In the first match against India, the middle order was never really tested thanks to rain.
So will their strategy, or clever thinking, get them the trophy on Sunday or just explode in the face, only time will tell.
First Published: Sep 21, 2006 12:15 IST