ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / Features

India v West Indies, World Cup 2011, Chennai

West Indies search for winning feeling

West Indies have created opportunities in both of their last two matches, but perhaps the memory of winning against a big team is too hazy for them to remember how to get over the line

Dileep Premachandran at the MA Chidambaram Stadium

March 20, 2011

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In May 2006, after India had edged a close game in Jamaica at the start of the one-day series, Greg Chappell, then the coach, suggested that West Indies had forgotten how to win. It prompted a furious response, and some West Indies players indicated that it had been the inspiration for a rousing comeback that sealed the series 4-1.

Those were hardly glory days for West Indies - the subsequent Test series was lost in Kingston - but continuing poor results have meant that even the players have begun to acknowledge that the winning habit is a hazy memory.

The task at Chepauk was not a straightforward run chase, especially with no Chris Gayle at the top of the order. But having done the hard work, with Devon Smith particularly impressive in crafting 81, the match was there to be won. When you are 154 for 2, needing less than a run a ball from the last 20 overs, it takes some pretty inept batting to throw it away.

Darren Sammy is now as used to answering the collapse question as he is to losing tosses. "We created another opportunity, but couldn't capitalise," he said wearily. "It's a good thing it didn't happen in the knockout stage. If it had, we would be going home. It is worrying for us, but I back the calibre of players that we have."

Smith is exempt from criticism, bowled by a beautiful slower delivery from Zaheer Khan, but as India scented an opportunity, West Indies drilled holes instead of plugging leaks. Kieron Pollard, batting with a dislocated finger, went for the glory shot before he'd settled, and Sammy was run out in a comedy of errors involving him, Suresh Raina and Munaf Patel.

Those left showed no inclination to take the game to the wire, and Ramnaresh Sarwan's desperate swipe at Zaheer in the batting Powerplay summed up the collective lack of belief. There have been murmurs about the exclusion of Shivnarine Chanderpaul in the last two games, but it's optimistic to see a man averaging 23.33 in the tournament, with a strike-rate of 58.82, as the panacea to batting ills.

Ravi Rampaul completes his five-wicket haul, India v West Indies, Group B, World Cup 2011, March 20, 2011
Ravi Rampaul's five-wicket haul was one of the few positives from the game for West Indies © AFP

Spare a thought for Ravi Rampaul. A benchwarmer until fever ruled Kemar Roach out, he produced a magnificent spell of bowling on a pitch that offered little more than some early bounce. Back in June 2009, when West Indies last beat a top-ranking nation [India, in Jamaica], Rampaul had taken 4 for 37. On Sunday, he topped that with 5 for 51.

The reverse-swing special to get rid of a well-set Virat Kohli was eye-catching, as was the yorker with which he nailed Yusuf Pathan. It was yet another reminder to the line-and-length school of coaching that bending your back and bowling genuinely quick comes with its own rewards.

Afterwards, Sammy admitted that Rampaul's performance was one of the few things to take away from the defeat. "He has been on the bench, but he's come in and grabbed his opportunity with both hands. That's what you want from your team setup."

What you don't want is to give dangerous batsmen too many reprieves. "We got success early on, and could have had Yuvraj [Singh] too," Sammy said. "I was the culprit who dropped him both times."

Yuvraj had made just 9 and 13 when those chances went down, and his 122-run partnership with Kohli transformed the game. With Pakistan having played one of their best games of the tournament against Australia, such generosity is likely to be severely punished in Mirpur on Wednesday, when West Indies face them in the first quarter-final.

Sammy is well aware of the threat. "Their captain [Shahid Afridi] has been performing, and some of the others have too. Hopefully, they'll have their bad match against us, and we'll bring our A game."

It's been a long time since anyone saw it. But as they head to Bangladesh, the players could do worse than ask Richie Richardson, the manager, to tell them about 1996. Then too, West Indies qualified fourth out of their group and were given next to no chance against a rampant South Africa.

A Brian Lara epic followed, and Sammy will hope that a fit-again Chris Gayle or a Darren Bravo can emulate him as a once-great side tries to rediscover the winning feeling.

Dileep Premachandran is an associate editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by lincoln on (March 22, 2011, 16:37 GMT)

Has anyone ever heard of a captain sacrificing his place on a team for a better player,who has more to contribute than the captain? I think sammy should say on the morning of the match that he has a tummy upset.I dont think he has the balls to do it.I wonder if the players ever read this website.Surely if they do sammy should get the message by now.

Posted by Everet on (March 22, 2011, 15:34 GMT)

Its time for chanderpaul to go, i mean stop playing OID n T20, he is the most selfish cricketer in history, his strike rate is terrible and he seems not to care, all he does is to use up as much balls as posble and put pressure on the younger batmen, most of the time i holds hime responsible for getting them out. its time for our selecters to start making bolds move and pick our best team, player like fletcher, Dw Smithe, samuels or Ramdin should have been in team from then. thomas is not ready for this level of cricket and sarwan is to much like chan'paul. these guys dont even perform in reginal tournaments. I have scene Chander kiss the pitch after making a 100 whil WI is loosing by an innings and our 100 runs. Finally, i will like ppl to get off the back of Sammy, he is doing an excellent job, he has performed better than chan'pual, sarwan, useless thomas n brovo whom i love so much

Posted by Ricky on (March 22, 2011, 14:28 GMT)

I feel the same as so many of you, why do we have to play Sammy??? He is just causing the team to be the wrong combination. However at present we have no choice, if we want to win we have to make the best of what we have. Honesty as a WI supporter, im not even looking forward to winning (maybe we are not there yet) but for God sake, at least put up a fight PLEASEEEEEEEEE. Considering that Sammy will play my best 11 is: Gayle (has to bowl), Smith, Darren (has to keep), Sars, Shiv, Polly, Russel,Sammy, Ravi , Roach, Bissoon. This gives 2 spin options, 3 fast bowlers and 2 medium pacers, 5 specialist batsman, 3 all rounders (i am considering Russel and Sammy allrounders)

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 22, 2011, 5:18 GMT)

I don't find any reason to have Sarwan in Team, See his last two game, he eats all of the balls and later on gets out. Sarwan and Chanderpaul is not good for WI team, both of them should retire now, they don't offer any shots, they play so traditionally, Darren is so good, even smith and pollard,

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 22, 2011, 3:48 GMT)

darren should keep .. and thomas get benched .. bring bak chanders for thomas..

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 21, 2011, 22:23 GMT)

YES WI have some selection problems. SO let us see how we can help. BOWLERS ROACH, RUSSELL,RAMPAUL BENN has taken one wicket against the BIG GUNNERS,but in all fairness to him, why is he opening the bowling against these established teams?PLEASE EXPLAIN.TEAMS do it against WI because there is a perception that we cannot play spin.LETS CONTINUE I"LL play BISHOO INSTEAD OF BENN. THOMAS once he is fit. GAYLE,SMITH BRAVO,SARWAN,POLLARD SAMMY.I cannot support dropping SAMMY at this point of the tournament.THE top 4 batmen have to give us 250runs.THE bowlers will bowl out PAK for less than 260.

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 21, 2011, 18:20 GMT)

Final 11 for Pak in q.final 1. Gayle 2. Smith 3. Bravo 4. sarwan 5. c.paul/Ravi Rampaul 6.pollard 7.sammy 8. thomes 9. benn 10.roach 11. russall............

In fact sammy is totally useless and i am quite unfortunate that i hv to select him,coz he is captain ................other wise c.paul and ravi rmpall both must be in fianl 11

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 21, 2011, 17:50 GMT)

If there was a good game to lose for WEST INDIES then the game against INDIA was the perfect one. This game was simply a match practice for our big game against Pakistan. We have a much better record against Pakistan than Australia- so good luck to India you are going to need it looking at the way Brett Lee was fired up and bowling! Not saying that we are going to beat Pakistan, but I like our chances against an unpredictable team. As we say ' never say never.....'

Posted by Douglas on (March 21, 2011, 17:50 GMT)

Sammy, please ensure you don't pick yourself in the next game. As you know, nobody's position in the team is a given (ask Shiv), least of all you. Tell me how you can play ahead of anyone on that team. It ridiculous that you are in the team just because you are named captain. Have a heart. Millions of us are still Rallying for the Windies. Please grant us our wish. Take a break!

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 21, 2011, 17:02 GMT)

Sammy said , " We hope Pakistan will have a bad day." What a fearful statement. Is this a brave captain? If West Inides wants to win the world cup they need to change the captain. Look what Afridi said," We can win the world cup." This is a leading edge. Suppose West Indies wins this Quarter Finlas still they will be knocked out by India or Australia easily in Semis.Similarly Ponting's mindset was the same against Pakistan, " We hope we win"...Now Look at Afridi, " We have a surprise waiting for Australians." For India I think Dhoni has lost this World Cup when he said," Winning this worldcup is not everything" Look at Yuvraj who said," This is a moment of life for us." I am a Pakistani but I think Yuvraj had been a better fighting captain then Dhoni.Had Yuvraj been the captain with that statement I would really be supporting India to win this worldcup. Best of luck all teams.

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Dileep PremachandranClose
Dileep Premachandran Associate editor Dileep Premachandran gave up the joys of studying thermodynamics and strength of materials with a view to following in the footsteps of his literary heroes. Instead, he wound up at the Free Press Journal in Mumbai, writing on sport and politics before Gentleman gave him a column called Replay. A move to MyIndia.com followed, where he teamed up with Sambit Bal, and he arrived at ESPNCricinfo after having also worked for Cricket Talk and total-cricket.com. Sunil Gavaskar and Greg Chappell were his early cricketing heroes, though attempts to emulate their silken touch had hideous results. He considers himself obscenely fortunate to have watched live the two greatest comebacks in sporting history - India against invincible Australia at the Eden Gardens in 2001, and Liverpool's inc-RED-ible resurrection in the 2005 Champions' League final. He lives in Bangalore with his wife, who remains astonishingly tolerant of his sporting obsessions.

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