It is West Indian captain Brian Lara’s choice of the final eleven that raised more eyebrows than their performance on the field in a do-or-die battle against South Africa. Lara’s choice of not choosing their main bowler Jerome Taylor and all rounder Marlon Samuels in such a key match and bringing in Devon Smith to play his first game of the tournament and debutant Kieron Pollard will no doubt leave many West Indian fans disappointed and disgusted at Lara's captaincy skills and none of them will be complaining about Lara’s decision to retire from ODI cricket as his unimaginative and some times downright terrible captaincy along with poor form with the bat led to their fourth consecutive defeat in Super 8s stage and their imminent exit from the tournament before the semi-finals
Though the match started as per Lara’s anticipation after he won the toss and decided to field with South Africa were able to make just 27 runs of first 9 overs losing the wicket of their skipper Graeme Smith, a 170 run partnership between ever reliable Jacques Kallis and the exciting stroke maker AB de Villiers and a brutal assault by Gibbs and Mark Boucher during the last seven overs which yielded 95 runs took the wind out of West Indian bowling. Brian Lara’s inexplicable move to delay the power play till the 45th over helped the Proteas tremendously to amass a total of 356/4 of which 320 runs came off last 40 overs.
It’s almost impossible to believe a batsman of de Villiers’ caliber keep losing his wicket for so many low scores in between such wonderful batting displays. Since his 92 against Australia in that furious batting display along with Smith, de Villiers' scores in three innings were 0 vs SL, 0 vs Ire and 15 vs BD. He celebrated his timely return to form with a maiden century. His aggression with the bat and between the wickets was so contagious normally sedate Kallis to engaged himself in taking the bowlers out of attack and in one particular over of Dwayne Bravo he took 18 runs including 3 hits to the fence and one over it.
In the slog overs , which included the last powerplay, both Gibbs (61* of 40 balls) and Boucher with another under 24 ball fifty took the game out of West Indies’ reach and rubbed more salt on already wounded West Indian bowlers.
For West Indies to get anywhere near the target they needed a good opening partnership, the hopes of which disappeared very soon when Chanderpaul’s lazy drive of Shaun Pollock’s delivery spooned an easy catch for Graeme Smith at mid-off. West Indies also needed Chris Gayle to fire on all cylinders. For a while it looked as if West Indies was on their way to make a match of it with the score reading 65 for 1 during the 11 the over with both Gayle and Devon Smith racing to their 30s in no time. But both fell within 4 balls bringing the Captain Lara and in-form bat Sarwan at the crease.
If at all there was a moment to silence his critics, this was the ideal situation for Lara. He started well and along with Sarwan took the score to 119 for 3 by 20th over. But then instead of smashing the Kallis’ harmless delivery out side the off-stump Lara got an inside edge not being able to get to the pitch of the ball dismantling his stumps. Though he could not silence his critics, his wicket silenced the entire stadium. Though Sarwan tried his best with a fighting knock of 92 and Darren Powell used long handle for some lusty hits in the end which fetched him 48 runs, West Indies never had a chance of winning the match once Lara’s wicket fell.
South Africa after that debacle against Bangladesh resumes its journey in the World Cup and with this win they strengthen their chances of reaching the semi-finals with two more crucial encounters to go. The first one will be against New Zealand at Grenada on coming Saturday and the next one will be against England on April 17th.
Today’s 'Quiztion of the Day' relates to another World Cup match in which a major team after getting upset in an earlier game came out victors against West Indies and strengthened their chances for getting a semi-final spot. Here it is:
Which Cricket team after suffering an upset in an earlier World Cup match and being in a danger of exiting from the tournament came out victors against West Indies though in a much closely fought encounter than the one between South Africa and West Indies in current World Cup. Provide me the details.
Remember to email your answers for each quiz individually to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line as 'Quiztion of the Day - X' (X being the question number) through out the tournament duration. Results will be first posted on http://www.dreamcricket.com/ website within a week of the World Cup Final.