At Mirpur the West Indies team was attacked by stone throwers for having bundled out Bangladesh for 58 runs in the league stage but never would they have thought that the tables would turn before they left the subcontinent. At the knockout stage it was never going to be a question of talent but about one’s ability to handle pressure and West Indies were caught napping as Pakistan humiliated them and broke their spirit by bowling them out for a paltry 112 runs, their third lowest world cup score.
The entertaining Chris Gayle’s indulgence in power hitting fills the stands but that does not discount the reality of flashiness prioritizing over responsibility in his career. If ever there was a day when his team would have wanted him to spend more time at the middle to create a platform for the likes of Pollard to break free then it was today but it was not to be. Once again the stoic Jamaican flattered to deceive on the big stage as his alter ego contributed to his perishing much before the people in his neighborhood would have finished their ablution work. If his departure was a setback then the defensive ploy by West Indies was hard to decode.
Tinkering with batting line ups on big match days has more often than not boomeranged for teams in the past and today was no different. Promoting Ramanaresh Sarwan to number 3 ahead of Darren Bravo was either to protect the youngster from the sharp Pakistani attack or to create a role in the batting line up for the veteran to fit in. Whatever the thought process was it failed as Bravo was dismissed much before he could get his eye in and Sarwan who looks to be in the last leg of his career spent most of his time in the middle trying to settle before departing for 24 runs which came off 68 deliveries, in an attempt to up the antique.
Shivanaraine Chanderpaul took 18 balls to open his account and by the 10th over with the score board reading 18 for 3, Pakistan had a strong foothold in the Caribbean camp. The spinners took over the proceeding as Pollard came and went as did the others and the score board soon read 70 for 7 with Shahid Afridi having missed a hattrick and soon it was 71 for 7……8. Kemar Roach and Chanderpaul who might have batted for the last time in South Asia took the score beyond 100 runs but it was bit too late in the day as by then Pakistan were well on their way to Mohali for the semifinals.
Shahid Afridi ended the day with a tournament tally of 21 wickets; still the highest and the Pakistani openers cruised to the target without any damage. West Indies positives from the tournament have been the emergence of some good young talent who now need to be nurtured as the rebuilding process will begin yet again. As painful as it may be but it won’t be a surprise if some radical changes are reported by West Indies Cricket Board in the near future.
Score card link to the match: http://www.espncricinfo.com/icc_cricket_worldcup2011/engine/current/match/433600.html
23rd March 2011, 8.11pm