ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / News
West Indies v South Africa, World Cup 2011, Delhi
Dwayne Bravo certain of quarter-final qualification
Sharda Ugra in Delhi
February 22, 2011
The group in which the West Indies finds themselves in this World Cup is not quite the football-esque Group of Death, but it could well be called a Cluster of Calamity. Where on any given day, a team that is highly-favoured, generously-rated, strongly-supported could find its plans, dreams and ambitions, upended. To whittle down the company that West Indies keep along with India, South Africa, England, Bangladesh, Ireland and Netherlands into four quarter-finalists is tougher than getting Sreesanth to separate his bowling from his bravado.
West Indies' allrounder Dwayne Bravo, though, has a different point of view, "I have no doubt in my mind we are going to qualify for the second round. And obviously, take it from there." It is a declaration through which Bravo has painted a target on his back two days before he gets out on the Ferozshah Kotla to play West Indies' first World Cup match against South Africa. Bravo did so by dismissing the idea that his team's group was tougher than the one made up of Sri Lanka, Australia, Pakistan, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Kenya and Canada. "It's an open tournament and both groups have teams who can spring surprises and that's what the World Cup wants - one of the big teams being surprised by one of the under-rated teams."
West Indies are one of those under-rated teams, particularly since the last time they beat a Test team in an ODI was in June 2009. Since then, they have been beaten in their last two series at home by Bangladesh (0-3) and South Africa (0-5), both of whom they will meet in this group. It is as if the Gods are mocking the form book, destiny and whatever else can be mocked.
The series against South Africa, says Bravo, could have been "4-1 in the West Indies' favour" and in hindsight, it spelt out his side's biggest flaw: "We had a lot of opportunities, a lot of key moments that could have won us the games. But it was simple mistakes that cost us. We have identified those mistakes. We have to come up with good game plans as to how if those those situations do occur again, we will be more prepared to facing them."
Bravo's own form in the run-up to the World Cup has been iffy, with only one fifty in his last ten games, but he said he was now "confident and happy" after his brief run in the rain-drenched ODI series in Sri Lanka. "I am waiting for the tournament to begin, it will be a long one and I have a big role to play with bat and ball." Two days ago, Chris Gayle said Bravo was a factor because he brought "fireworks" to the team. "He get that buzz around and bring that energy... Regardless of what is happening, I'm not too worried about him, he will be ready to go when the umpire says play." For his part, Bravo says, "We can't wait for Thursday to come."
Gayle and Bravo make up two of the trio who turned down central contracts offered to them by the West Indies Cricket Board, giving themselves the opportunity to be freelance Twenty20 players in leagues mushrooming around the world. They may be in the same corner of a debate, but Bravo believes they must also share a common load in the World Cup. Not just because they are IPL regulars but also due to their all-round abilities. "Allrounders are very important in this part of the world and we have four top-quality allrounders. The captain Darren Sammy is one, Kieron Pollard, myself and Chris Gayle. On any given day if two of us out of the four have a good day, the West Indies will be in a good position to win games."
The IPL's insider information was not going to be enormous, Bravo said, because "it's the same information that Graeme Smith or J P Duminy will have." What could give the West Indians a slight advantage was the similarity of the conditions in the sub-continent to their home pitches, but this, too, only when compared to "some of the other teams who play on hard bouncy surfaces.
"Once we play properly and execute our plans properly, that obviously is going to come into play... knowing India, spin and slow-medium play a big part and we will also take that into consideration."
The West Indies' recent form and rankings were dismissed as 'history' with Bravo distilling the news, the noise and the predictions into one simple idea: "This is a new tournament in a different setting. Each team starts with zero points and every team has an opportunity to win the World Cup."
The match against South Africa will be the first 'marquee' contest of the World Cup not featuring any of the home teams. The West Indies would want to light a few fires under a few chairs in their group, "because we have to begin well...we don't want to be in the middle of the tournament where we are trying to play catch up cricket. We are not in a position where we can take it easy at the moment as we are rebuilding and trying to get back into winning ways... this tournament is important to us and the people of the Caribbean."
The people of the Caribbean will no doubt also keep Bravo's promise of a quarter-final spot in mind.