Windies waste it at the WACA: Tony Cozier
Insults fly as enquiry heats up
Windies waste it
From Tony Cozier At the WACA in Perth
Wednesday, February 2nd 2005
THERE ARE a multitude of defects that have led the West Indies down the path to their present sorry state but none is more blatant than the lack of basic cricketing intelligence.
It was never more glaring than it was here yesterday.
In the most critical match of an already disappointing tour, the West Indies were cruising to victory over Pakistan that would see them through to the finals of the VB Series when they were suddenly overcome by an attack of absurdity staggering even when set against the several examples of the past decade.
Pakistan had amassed 307 for eight from their 50 overs, mainly on the strength of 105 off 100 balls, with nine fours, by Man of the Match Yousaf Youhanna.
His fourth wicket partnership of 134 off 20 overs with captain Inzamam-ul-Haq, whose 74 from 67 balls with ten fours was compiled with no seeming effort, pointed Pakistan the way to recovery and then dominated. The two took advantage of their opponents' limited bowling and fielding that muffed at least four clear run out chances. But, with the pitch pregnant with runs, the outfield as fast as a billiard table top and the sun shining brightly from a cloudless sky, it was by no means out of reach.
The possibilities were put into perspective as Ramnaresh Sarwan and Shivnarine Chanderpaul shared a skilful, untroubled fourth wicket partnership of 95 from 17.4 overs that carried the West Indies to within 117 of their goal with as many as 103 balls and seven wickets remaining.
The required rate was slightly over a run a ball, an equation that simply needed the well established and experienced Guyanese to play as they had done throughout to achieve their target and advance to the best of three finals against Australia on Friday, Sunday and, if required, Tuesday.
Suddenly, some inexplicable suicidal impulse overcame first Sarwan, then, four balls later, Chanderpaul. The nonsense immediately extended to Dwayne Bravo as three wickets tumbled for nine runs off 13 balls.
The dye had been cast and, even though Wavell Hinds and Courtney Browne retained hope by adding 54, Pakistan could not be denied. They won by 30 runs when the West Indies ran out of wickets with 11 balls remaining. It was close enough to reveal that yet another match had been wasted by abject cricket.
Setting out after Pakistan's distant total, the West Indies were immediately set back when Chris Gayle, whose reputation and powerful hitting earmarked him as crucial to the outcome, touched a catch to the keeper off the persistent fast bowler Naved Rana's third ball of the innings.
It was the tall left-hander's fourth dismissal in single figures in six innings in the tournament.
Ricardo Powell, clearly uncomfortable in the unaccustomed opening position again assigned to him, duly succumbed to another keeper's catch off Rana at 67 in the eleventh over.
When captain Brian Lara, plunderer of 156 off the same bowling in the West Indies' victory in Adelaide last Friday, miscued a pull off the lively young Iftikhar Rao and lobbed a catch to wide midon the first ball after a refreshment break, the West Indies were 99 for three in the 16th over.
The contest was at the crossroads when the left-handed Chanderpaul joined the right-handed Sarwan in the partnership to chart the course towards a decisive win.
They batted with such judicious assurance that rendered the manner of their dismissals all the more galling.
When 65, Sarwan escaped a straightforward missed catch at deep squareleg off a mishit pull from Shadid Afridi's flat leg-spin. It was the only false shot he offered in scoring 87 off 91 balls, with nine fours and a straight six off the irregular off-spinner Salman Butt his main strokes.
A hundred was as much his for the taking as victory was for the West Indies when, for no rhyme or reason apart from a concentration lapse, he heaved an ungainly sweep at Afridi. He missed, dragged his trailing leg well out of his ground and was quickly stumped.
It was a warning signal unheeded by Chanderpaul who, after stroking a flawless 58 off 64 balls with eight fours, drove the enthusiastic young quick bowler Rao straight to Inzamam-ul-Haq's rotund midriff at short extra-cover in the following over.
Nine balls later, Bravo essayed a stroke created by a cluttered mind, a sort of hopeful shovel to leg off Afridi, and was bowled off and middle stumps behind his back.
It was a dismissal that spoiled the young Trinidadian's earlier brilliant work in the field and ten proper overs of energetic medium-pace.
The Pakistanis were, not unexpectedly, becoming increasingly desperate the longer the Sarwan-Chanderpaul liaison lasted. In the blinking of an eye, they now sensed the match was theirs.
Hinds and Browne, another left-right combination, raised West Indian spirits once more with their selective strokeplay and sharp running between the wickets. But the three wickets that brought them together were too much of a handicap.
With 50 needed off 37 balls, Hinds hoisted a catch to long-off from the left-arm quickie, Mohammed Khalil, and the incredible Browne-Ian Bradshaw partnership of the Champions Trophy final was not to be repeated.
Rana, strong, pacy and direct, yorked Bradshaw fourth ball and finished off the innings and the match with a similar delivery that found a way through Browne.
The plucky wicket-keeper's 36, off 33 balls with four fours, might have been enough to ensure a different outcome had more renowned batsmen not wasted their wickets.
The earlier problems were caused principally by the two slower bowlers, Hinds and Gayle, who equally shared the fifth allotment with five overs each.
Hinds' medium-pace went for 44 from his five overs, Gayle's off-spin, still clearly affected by the right shoulder injury he has carried since the opening match on January 14, for 55 off his five-a total of 95.
Such generosity allowed Pakistan to recover from the uncertainty of 90 in the 23rd over for the wickets of openers Salman Butt and Kamran Akmal to Ian Bradshaw's accurate left-arm medium-pace and Yasir Hameed to Reon King's yorker.
Even by then, King had missed two clearcut run out chances-although the second was worth an obstruction appeal when Yasir booted the ball out of his way-and Powell one.
When Bravo eventually bowled the exhausted Inzamam and Browne stumped Abdul Razzaq off a rebound from his pad off Hinds, Afridi entered to slam two gigantic sixes in 23 from ten balls.
The first, off Hinds, landed on the canvas awning over long-on, fully 100 yards distant. The second was a astonishing, free swinging pick-up from outside off-stump off Bravo that sailed every bit as far over midwicket.
Bradshaw ended the fireworks, bowling Afridi, and, even though Youhanna and Rana were run out from third man by Bravo's brilliance in the final over, it cost Bradshaw 15 and raised over 300 against the West Indies for the second time in the tournament.
They should have got it. It is a recurring theme.
Instead, they fly back to the Caribbean tomorrow with very little to show from another barren tour of Australia where once, not so very long ago, they carried all before them.
the Sarwan shot was a strange and very poor one. He looked in such good form and his charge down the wicket was totally unecessary.
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"When captain Brian Lara, plunderer of 156 off the same bowling in the West Indies' victory in Adelaide last Friday, miscued a pull off the lively young Iftikhar Rao and lobbed a catch to wide midon the first ball after a refreshment break, the West Indies were 99 for three in the 16th over."
I think he is confused !
Majid Jehangir Khan - classiest Pakistani cricketer both on and off the field.