Upsets too add to cricket's beauty
Today's game will be one of the showpiece matches of the event, featuring as it does the defending champions and the hosts. Brian Lara's team looked good in the league stages and I hope they have the confidence to take on Ponting's men.
The Australians looked in vintage form against the South Africans and, if anyone had doubts about the champions' form coming into the tournament, their strong performance has silenced them. Their only Achilles heel seems to be their bowling, which could be fragile if put under pressure. The face-off between Chris Gayle and Glenn McGrath will be decisive. Chris has been quiet so far, but hopefully, he will come into his own now.
It's a very special feeling to have a stadium named after you, and I am interested in seeing how the wicket behaves at the Vivian Richards Stadium. It's always difficult to gauge a pitch till a game has been played on it, and I would not be surprised if the captain winning the toss puts in the opposition.
There are a couple of big teams missing from the Super Eights, including India. I can imagine the disappointment and anger with which the Indian fans would have received their team's elimination. While the team's poor showing against Sri Lanka would have caused disappointment, it is India's earlier loss against Bangladesh that they must be rueing at present.
Upsets are part of any sport and they can happen to any team. I remember how gutted we felt when we lost in 1983 to India, at a time when we won almost every match we played. So, while it hurts when the rub of the green goes against you, the beauty of cricket is these glorious uncertainties.
The Sri Lankans looked in great touch in that win, and what struck me was the way their main player, Muttiah Muralitharan, came to the table when his team needed him to defend a target that was not entirely out of reach. Champion players always do well in crunch games — the greater the pressure, the better the performance. I would have liked to see some of India's champions put up greater resistance to Murali's guile. But that did not happen and India became the second big casualty of the first round, following neighbours Pakistan out of the tournament.
I do feel for those Indian fans who planned to come in the Super Eights. They would now be having second thoughts about making the long trip to the Caribbean. From the hosts’ point of view, the absence of India might have an impact on the tournament; but I am sure there will be enough fans from all over the world — even Indians who would come to experience the unique cricket atmosphere in the Caribbean. Indians have a great love for the game and watch matches even when their team is not in action. Therefore, once the initial disappointment wears off, they will follow the rest of the games.