Monday, June 30, 2003

A good effort

A few weeks ago, I commented that in its home matches this season the West Indian cricket team had lost every match they played when the series in question was still undecided, and won every "dead" match after the series was decided. At the time there was one series to go: the two match test series against Sri Lanka. As I have written on this blog, the first match was drawn due to rain, so this in a sense broke the West Indian jinx. However, when it came to the crunch in the second test this weekend, it is nice to see that the West Indians came good. At the end of the second day's play, Sri Lanka were 5/129 in their second innings, a lead of 146 runs. The West Indies needed to bowl Sri Lanka out as quickly as possible and hope that their fine batting lineup could get the runs in a peculiarly low scoring match. In particular, it was time for Lara to play what is known in cricket as a "captain's knock", an innings in which the captain demonstrates to his teammates how it is done.

Before that, though, there were wickets to be taken. As it happened, Corey Collymore continued the job he started on Saturday evening, taking a total of 7 wickets for 57 runs. Despite a little resistance from Dharmasena and Vaas, Sri Lanka were bowled out for 194, setting the West Indies a very gettable target of 212, by most standards not very much, but (if achieved) the highest innings score of the match. The West Indies lost Gayle very quickly and Hinds with the score on 50, but after that Sarwan and Lara did the worlk with little difficulty. Sarwan was out for 82 with the scores level and one run required to win, and Lara did what was asked of him, being 80 not out at the end. In a way it was a shame that the target wasn't a few more, as that way Lara could have completed his sixth century in his last six matches against Sri Lanka. Anyway, the West Indies won the match by seven wickets and the series 1-0, with Collymore being declared man of the match and of the series. (That second award seems a little hard on Lara to me).

And so ends the West Indian home season. The West Indies dominated cricket from about 1980 to 1993, before falling into dreadful decline, and losing to just about everyone. This season they have shown signs that they are on the way back. They played well at times in the World Cup, thanks at least partly due to some great batting from Sarwan. Sadly, the combination of defaults, rain, and an upset in a game not involving them cost them a place in the second round of that tournament. They then went on to lose to Australia at home, but that happens to everyone. Thankfully, they showed some good moments in that series, and Lara batted superbly. Finally, they ended the season on a high note with this win over Sri Lanka. The West Indies play South Africa in South Africa at the end of the year. That should be good. I love watching West Indian cricket, particularly Brian Lara when he is in the sort of form he has been in recently. I must try to go there in four years: perhaps for the World Cup, perhaps for the Australian tour that follows it.

Briefly, South Africa played Zimbabwe in Canterbury yesterday. South Africa batted first and scored 5/272 off 50 overs thanks to 125 not out from Jacques Kallis, his second successive century in this series. This was always likely to be too much for the Zimbabweans, whose batting lacks the depth needed to chase that sort of score. The Zimbabweans made a reasonable fist of it, at one point being 2/146 off 33 overs, but after Friend and Flower were out the wickets tumbled, the Zimbabweans scrambling to 9/226 off the 50 overs and losing by 46 runs. Zimbabwe will likely have to win two of their last four matches to make the final, which is a tall order for them.

No comments:

Blog Archive