Category Archives: West Indies

Don’t Get Carried Away by the Celebrations

So we all know that the Tontee-Tontee format is a joke, and while the World T20 is yet the most credible tournament in the genre – the celebrations for winning it are mostly over the top by the team involved. But coincidentally there’s been a clear-cut reason for this each and every time.

1. India v Pakistan at Johannesburg, 2007 (India win by 5 runs)

For better or for worse, India comes across as one of those teams that takes its 50-over World Cups really seriously. It helps that they won it back in the summer of ’83, but dominant performances in the ’87, ’96 and ’03 editions only fueled the public’s belief that the trophy could be gotten again. Unfortunately, the 2007 edition in the Caribbean with an inaugural defeat to the Bangas didn’t help things at all. Most of the Indian populace couldn’t be bothered that they annihilated the same opposition in a tour shortly after the tournament, or that they went on to achieve a rare test series win in England in the summer that followed; they wanted the taste of some ICC silverware, and pronto.

Where better than in South Africa later that year? Of course, a grinning MS Dhoni (with his dreadlocks et al) holding aloft the trophy couldn’t quite replicate the thrills of a win in the more prestigious 50-over editions, but it would do for the time being. The usuals – politico sponsored bus rides through cities, garlands, bonuses, land, houses and whatnot – came flooding in and the perils of March 2007 were soon forgotten.

Also keep in mind that India won the tourney against the odds, if you like. Their limited over batting heavyweights over the past decade had been disposed of going into the games, and the BCCI weren’t necessarily supportive of the ICC hosting such a tournament in the first place. All of that changed as Misbah-ul-Haq played that ol’ ill-fated scoop to the Keralite positioned at short fine leg – arguably the most important shot in recent history; as that led to the IPL, Champion’s League and all of the bloated T20 leagues you see around the globe today.

2. Pakistan v Sri Lanka at Lord’s, 2009 (Pakistan won by 8 wickets)

Pakistan have won only two trophies in the sport’s history, and the template has remained the same on both occasions. They enter the tournament as a shambles with nobody giving them a chance, get humiliated in their first few encounters, aggravating the media and the fans back home, and then out of nowhere galvanize and come together to win match after match before a final knockdown of the opposition in the final, should they make it that far.

The 2009 edition was no different for the greens. Less than four months earlier, the Sri Lankan team bus were attacked in Lahore leading to a cricketing isolation of the nation by the rest of the world, and the team went into their opener with little or no match practice. After a particularly arduous loss to the Poms, out came captain Younis Khan with the most glib phrase that irritated the Pakistani journeys no end – “It doesn’t matter, T20 is all fun cricket”! A fortnight later, the same man retired after pocketing the trophy in the midst of a packed Lord’s stadium. That’s Pakistani cricket 101 for you.

I’m sure the Pakistani nation would have taken anything that came their way after the tragic events of March. A World T20? Sure.

3. Australia v England at Barbados, 2010 (England won by 7 wickets)

*As you might know, I’m heavily biased against the Poms, so it’s going to show*

If you’re such a rubbish sporting team like England, then you’d be jumping at the prospect of collecting any kind of trophy. Believe it or not, this is a side and country that deserves accolades for inventing the sport, but had to wait until 2010 A.D. to pick up their first meaningful ICC trophy, which eventually occurred in the form of a World T20 in the West Indies.

It wasn’t without extraneous help of course. Kevin Pietersen from South Africa bagged the man of the tournament award, and fellow South Africans Craig Kieswetter and Michael Lumb kept the runs flowing at the top of the order game after game. If anything went awry, Irishman Eoin Morgan was always at hand to patch things up at 2-down. The English captain Paul Collingwood and most of his English comrades were expectedly useless for the most part – and he achieved his top score in the tournament with a ‘brave’, ‘gutsy’ 16* in the final after the mercenaries had done all of the hard work whilst chasing the Australian total. Go figure.

4. Sri Lanka v West Indies at Colombo, 2012 (West Indies won by 36 runs)

I don’t know about you, but I was supporting the West Indies going into the 2012 edition from the outset. Having closely followed Sammy’s efforts at building his side over the past year, I knew that they had it in them to win the whole thing if they wanted to. I pose as a Kiwi troll in a popular Pakistani forum and I mentioned the same out there prior to the opening week. After all, this was a team with several T20 superstars – need I state any more names than Gayle, Pollard, Russell, Narine and Roach? (Although the last of those was injured for the most of it).

Props to Chris Gayle to turn it on in the semi against Australia, especially. It’s one thing blasting medium pacers in the Bangladeshi or Zimbabwean ‘premier’ leagues, but against an international side with proven performers in a knockout environment? That takes class.

The 10 Best Tests of 2011

Whenever wisecracks yell out that T20 has killed, crucified, murdered, assasinated and whatever, test cricket, it has a splendid year. Test cricket, that is. Duh. When ever has T20 had a good year?

10. Sri Lanka v Australia at Galle (Australia won by 125 runs)

If tests in the subcontinent are boring, Galle in Sri Lanka is the region’s test capital. Why? 740/3, 952/7, 500/2 declared. That’s why. It came as such a relief therefore, when wickets started falling like ninepins during Sri Lanka’s first innings effort in the first test against Australia. Bowled out for 105, the Aussies could start up their second innings from day 2, guaranteeing us a result. That’s all we ask for, from Sri Lankan pitches.

The other two matches in the Warne-Muralitharan trophy, as it’s called, were draws and yet the ICC served up a warning to Galle for producing such an unfriendly wicket!? Maybe they were expecting the usual?

9. England v India at Trent Bridge (England won by 319 runs)

Trent Bridge, in contrast, is a superb test venue, second in England only to Edgebaston in my book. During the second England – India test of the summer, India were still fighting hard to get a foothold in the series after going down 1-0 at Lord’s. Day 1 saw England reduced to 124/8 before Stuart Broad bravely counterattacked to take the score to a respectable 221. Rahul Dravid and India seemed to be running away with India’s innings at 267/4, before – you guessed it – Broad scalped a hat trick. I suppose it was effectively five wickets because Yuvraj fell before the first hat trick ball, and Dravid skied a catch afterwards, seeing that he was suddenly left with the tail. England thus restricted India’s lead to a paltry 67, before marching onto the field and pwning Sreesanth and co. The game was in the bag. 1-0 became 2-0. Then 3-0. Then 4….you get the idea.

There was also a moment of controlled controversy as Bell was walking off for tea during day 3. I suppose that helps us remember a close test match even better.

8. West Indies v Pakistan at Guyana (West Indies won by 40 runs)

A team like the Windies go several years without a victory, be it home or away, so it’s always awesome to see them win. Props to Bishoo and Chanderpaul, whose last wicket stand in the disastrous second innings took the total from 105/9 to 152 all out. The scorecard says that the Windies won by 40, so that effectively sealed the match. Chanderpaul has always been solid as ever, but Bishoo was a #11 AND was making his international debut. Respect.

As an aside, the West Indies are the only team who wearwhite jerseys for their test matches. None of the mustard, ivory or all the other off-white tripe. Test cricket = White. Respect, like I said.

7. India v West Indies at Mumbai (Match Drawn)

There’s a reason why 2011 has been such a good year for test matches – there haven’t been too many draws. The fact that this test was a draw because of a mere technicality stands the format in good stead.

Beating India in India is next to impossible, but the West Indies of all teams came so close during the third of their three match test series. Going into the last over, all four results were possible – an India win, a West Indies win, a draw, and a tie. With 2 required off the last ball with one wicket in hand, first innings centurion R. Ashwin thought it was fine if he ran just the one. A pat on the back for him, he created some history for test cricket.

About his first innings century – I’ve never seen such a disappointed crowd witnessing a debut century. Why? Tendulkar was dismissed for 94 a few hours earlier, in pursuit of the irrelevant 100th youknowwhat. We can thus conclude that Ashwin wanted some of the limelight out of the entire affair there. And while we’re at it, we can celebrate the fact that both Tendulkar and Ashwin have one hundred international centuries put together in international cricket. How cool is that?

6. England v Sri Lanka at Cardiff (England won by an innings and 14 runs)

So draws emanate out of technicalities, and wins come from draws. Everybody had given up at Cardiff by the time day 5 rolled along. The weather had been dreadful, and only one innings had been played so far. Sri Lanka had made 400 batting first, to which England (or South Africa A in slang) replied with a sturdy 496. With just a handful of overs to survive in the final day then, Sri Lanka get bundled out for 82. Blink and you miss a wicket stuff. Not till the last pair got together did they actually try to get over their trail of 96 but with the supreme English attack on the prey, even that proved to be a lost cause.

5. South Africa v Sri Lanka at Durban (Sri Lanka won by 208 runs)

Whenever the South Africans get ahead, they’ll let themselves slip to get back amongst the pack. When the opposition is a team starved of overseas test wins, Sri Lanka, they’ll gobble up the opportunity. End of story.

4. Australia v New Zealand at Hobart (New Zealand won by 7 runs)

This was a classic. After the usual loss to big brother at Brisbane, the same old cliches were being drafted in about Kiwi cricket. Until the Hobart groundsman made a pitch so green that it would put the Pakistani flag to shame. What resulted was a closely fought four day affair that eventually culminated in a 7 run win for the black caps. David Warner thwacked a rearguard century only to see his teammates at the other end lose Australia the match, messing up what should have been a regulation chase of 241 in the fourth innings.

Sri Lankan and Indian groundsmen, take note.

3. South Africa v India at Cape Town (Match Drawn)

One all with everything to play for going into the third test at Cape Town. South Africa posted a par 364 thanks to a sublime Kallis 161, before India matched it shot for shot to end up on 362 all out. The Indian innings included a marvellous battle between Tendulkar and Steyn, a spell for the ages. With a lead of just 2, South Africa collapsed to 233/7 in their second innings, and the Indians should have fancied polishing them off within 250. Unfortunately they ran into the brick wall – Kallis – again, and he batted with the tail to push upwards to 341. There was no chance of a result from that point, but it was an engaging spectacle of fast bowling versus tentative pokes by the bat.

2. South Africa v Australia at Cape Town (South Africa won by 8 wickets)

Batting first, Australia posted a better than average 284 all thanks to Clarke’s Steve-Waugh esque batting with the tail to accumulate a personal score of 151. South Africa, for their part chased down 236 in their fourth innings to win the game.

In between whiles was the most unexplainable passage of play you could see. South Africa 96 all out. Australia 47 all out. Did somebody bomb the pitch? Many Aussie fans online were in splits over the Saffers’ 47/9 collapse, only to see their side top it with a 47/10 effort. At one stage, the Aussies were 21/9 before the last pair in Nathan Lyon and Peter Siddle more than doubled the score to 47. How the hell?

1. Zimbabwe v New Zealand at Bulawayo (New Zealand won by 34 runs)

Yeah, the Zimbots had won their first test on their return to the test fold against the Bangas, but not many fancied them against a superior New Zealand. Led by Brendan Taylor though, Zimbabwe managed to remain within touching distance of the Kiwis throughout the first four days, before bravely proclaiming to chase down their fourth innings total of 366 on day 5. Embarassment for the Kiwis beckoned as Taylor smashed a century enroute to 265/4, before the other Taylor – Ross, brought on Daniel Vettori. Dan had flown the thousand miles just for this one test, having retired from the shorter formats post the World Cup. Yet he still had it in him to kill the Zimbabwean chase with three crucial wickets.

Like I said, lap it up, T20 fans. We’re lovin’ it on the other side. It’s that finger licking good.