Lara played a smart card
Windies' win over Australia will be a wake-up call for Indians who need to come out of their slumber and get moving, writes Ravi Shastri.india Updated: Oct 20, 2006 14:47 IST
The West Indians have pulled off what surely was thought of as an impossibility, and there must be a flutter in the Indian camp, for Australia and the West Indies would not be easy to get past by in the pool. It could also be the challenge the Indians need to come out of their slumber and get moving for the World Cup in six months' time.
You just cannot help but look ahead, given the way the West Indies came to the party in Mumbai on Wednesday. When the Big Boy fires, it sparks a revival in the ranks, which happened in Mumbai as Brian Lara led Runako Morton by hand. Lara's innings was a confirmation that in such conditions, lower middle order is the best place for him.
It was a smart batting ploy by the captain, who did not fall for the lure of a batting position where, being the best player in the side, he could get the maximum runs. Instead, he chose to be the glue in the middle, where collective collapses have been routine in recent times. He chose team over self — maybe having Clive Lloyd has helped.
No less impressive was Adam Gilchrist, who showed that a break of seven months did no harm to his spirit or form. When he plays in such a fashion, eschewing belligerence and buckling down to innings management; Australia are doubly dangerous. He was a Tiger Woods using the driver sparingly. I hope the example is not lost on younger wicketkeepers of world cricket, like our own Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
Another champion did not go unnoticed, though for different reasons. Glenn McGrath has rarely been driven over his head or extra cover, much less hoisted over the tent by a number eight batsman in the line-up. But the Pigeon is returning to the field after a long absence and the engine is sure to purr back to life soon.
Well as Nathan Bracken bowled, Australia would still be better served when McGrath and Brett Lee share the new ball, especially on harder surfaces, as in Mohali. There is all the more reason to give him the new cherry now that speed is beginning to forsake him.
Better youngsters are coming through the ranks for the West Indies, which accounts for their recent turnaround. Dwayne Bravo, hat-trick man Jerome Taylor and offies Chris Gayle and Marlon Samuels, all of them played critical roles for the team. More and more it's becoming clear that it would be folly to treat the Windies as a one-pony bowling attack in Ian Bradshaw.
Australia would be under pressure since their experiment with Shane Watson at the top of the order is not clicking. Ricky Ponting and Andrew Symonds need to do some damage with Michael Hussey up the order.
Given the vagaries of pitches in Malaysia and India, their relative low scores are unsettling. They have not been able to defend a 434; scores of over 300 have been few and far in between and eight losses have accrued from their 24 games.
Put simply, they have lost every third game they have played. Cracks are beginning to show and more and more teams want to find out if the tag of 'unbeatables' is for real. However, all would still accept them as favourites.
The Champions Trophy is far from over and it is hazardous to form a report card on teams yet. But the West Indies remain the most improved lot.