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October 26, 2006
Despite having already sealed a place in the semi-finals with impressive victories against Australia and India, Brian Lara insisted that there would be no complacency from West Indies when they take on England at the Motera Stadium on Saturday. Resounding defeats against both India and Australia have already scuppered the English campaign and Lara suggested that their minds might already be in Australia, where they begin their defence of the Ashes next month.
"I think we've got the batting line-up that we want, and what we need now is to continue winning games and seeing the likes of [Chris] Gayle, or maybe [Shivnarine] Chanderpaul, getting another hundred," said Lara, when asked whether he might be tempted to experiment a little with the combination. "It's hard to tell you what the plans are before the team meeting. We don't know what the XI is going to be. [Corey] Collymore is on his way back to India [after having flown home for the birth of his daughter]. The necessity is to win."
Though he himself was clearly not as fit as he would have liked in the game against India, Lara said that it was unlikely that he would sit out Saturday's game. "I think I've got 36 hours or so before the game starts," he said, talking to the media after the three-wicket win over India. "At the end of the day, if I'm fitter than I was today, I'll definitely play. It's important that we get the best team out there. We don't want to have a hiccup at this time. We did that in Malaysia, where we experimented in the game before the final, and lost the momentum."
He was well aware of England's struggles in the one-day arena, but didn't expect them to roll over meekly either. "They didn't have a very good summer in the one-day game in England," he said, when asked whether he had been surprised by how poor England were in their two opening games. "Coming out to the subcontinent is a bit difficult. They were here a few months ago, playing India, and won only one game. It was always going to be difficult for them, with the likes of [Marcus] Trescothick and Michael Vaughan missing. They're not at full strength. I'm sure they're going to come out here and play for pride. England have got bigger things to worry about now, the Ashes. I wish them well for that."
He didn't seem particularly bothered either when asked which way the Ashes might go. "I don't want to comment on what I think the result's going to be," he said. "Someone like Vaughan, who was instrumental in the Ashes win in England, is going to be missed. And Simon Jones, is it? I don't know what the team is like. I'm not really concentrating on English cricket.
"The series I saw in England in 2005 was the best Test series I've ever watched. The odds are against them [England], but you always back the underdog. If they can retain the Ashes, it would be a very, very good achievement."
For the moment though, Lara and his West Indies team appear keen to make sure that England head to Australia having gained nothing from the trip to India but frequent flyer points.
Dileep Premachandran is features editor of CricinfoFeeds: Dileep Premachandran
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