Thursday, February 13, 2003

West Indies versus New Zealand today. A 20 runs victory for New Zealand, who put in a good all round team effort. This was yet another match where the side chasing a target lost wickets early, then the lower order players made a charge for the target but didn't quite do it. The West Indies lost Lara early. And after that the batting fell away. A fine 75 by Sarwan (who also batted very well against South Africa - he certainly looks a player to watch) and 50 from Jacobs put them in sight, but once they were out the match was lost.

Two obvious comments: firstly if Lara had scored a few runs the West Indies would have won the game, but because he didn't they didn't. They remain extremely dependent on him, despite the fact that the lower order batting is stronger than we thought going in to the tourament.

Secondly, despite all that it was the West Indian bowlers who lost the game. New Zealand were 6-147. They shouldn't have got 240 from there. As it was, New Zealand were allowed to get 20 runs too many. The West Indian bowling is simply too weak for them too figure in the final stages of the tournament.

Still, there are no clear dominant teams in Group B. Three of South Africa, West Indies, New Zealand and Sri Lanka will qualify for the next round and one will miss out. It is still anyone's guess who that will be. South Africa play New Zealand on Sunday. If New Zealand win that one they will almost certainly go through (and South Africa will be in trouble). If South Africa win things will be even murkier. The remaining important matches in that group (Sri Lanka - West Indies and Sri Lanka - South Africa) are not until Feb 28 and March 3, so we have some waiting to do before the murkiness clears.

England were due to play in Zimbabwe today but the match was called off. Arguing still goes on as to whether this counts as a default (in which Zimbabwe will pick up the points), a no result (in which the sides get two points each) or whether the game can be rescheduled to be played in South Africa later. (We would all like to see this, but I doubt it will happen). The Indian board is even claiming that England should be penalised points in addition to missing out on the points for the match, which would effectively end any chance England would have of making the second round of the tournament. This is a very harsh prospect, and I think it is extremely unlikely to happen. This ongoing saga cannot be helping English team morale. That said, their first game will be a very easy game against the Netherlands on Sunday. Getting on the field and playing some cricket should be good for them.

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