WI-E'll meet again!

Thursday, September 23 2004

The West Indies and England will meet yet again, this time in the Champions Trophy Final.

After England's sensational win over World Champions Australia yesterday, the West Indies were even more emphatic in their despatch of a Pakistan side for whom things went wrong as soon as Inzamam-ul-Haq won the toss and against all logic decided to bat.

The decision was made to look all the poorer when debutant Salman Butt, called in to open the batting, fell to his second ball for a duck and Pakistan were 1-1.

Yasir Hameed and Shoaib Malik steadied the ship, although neither looked at their most convincing against the moving ball as Corey Collymore bowled a superb tight spell that conceded just 9 runs from his first 6 overs.

Change bowler Dwayne Bravo was less accurate, and gave the batsmen more balls to hit, which they duly obliged, and were just beginning to start to settle down when disaster struck, as Bravo returned a superb throw to leave Hameed stranded and make the score 65-2. Hameed's 39 was to prove the top score, as from here on in, it was all in the control of the men from the Caribbean.

Wavell Hinds had replaced Bravo, and he was immaculate in his early overs as the run rate dipped after the wicket, but it was Bravo who struck next, as Malik edged through to Courtney Browne for a disappointing 17 from 58 balls - surely one of the slowest One Day innings of the past year.

The 2 big men for Pakistan were now at the crease together, and although they were still scoring slowly, they at least raised the 100 before Yousuf Youhana edged Bravo and Browne took a fine catch. After 30 overs, only 100 were on the board, and 4 wickets down, but with the likes of Abdul Razzaq, Moin Khan and Shahid Afridi to bat, then anything was possible.

That none of those 3 fired owed first to another brilliant throw from Bravo, Razzaq being run out for only 6, but then some continued excellent bowling from Hinds, who ended up bowling his 10 overs for just 26 runs, and his figures were further boosted by the dismissals of both Inzamam and Moin in his last over as Pakistan slumped to 112-7 with just Afridi and the tail left.

Afridi gamely battled on, and indeed hammered Chris Gayle for a six and a four, but Collymore clean bowled numbers 9 and 10, and with the last man in, Afridi missed an attempted second maximum, and with his leg just outside the crease, Browne whipped off the bails for his 4th victim (as well as helping out in both run outs)

131 all out was a poor effort from Pakistan, but also indicated how well the West Indies had bowled as a unit - only Bravo conceding more than 3 and over (apart from Gayle who was facing the enigmatic Afridi and only bowled 8 balls so can be excused)

The one man Pakistan needed to shine in this sort of situation was the Rawalpindi Express, and he did his best to claw his side back into the game, removing Gayle leg before wicket and then superbly catching a return shot from Wavell Hinds. Both of these went in the first 5 overs as Shoaib regularly hit the mid-90s, but unfortunately for him, Mohammad Sami was on one of his off days, and by conceding 23 runs in 3 overs, he negated all the good done at the other end, and all but handed the run chase to the West Indies within half an hour of it starting.

Indeed, Ramnaresh Sarwan and Brian Lara looked like they'd cruise to victory on their own in no time, and Lara had raced to 31 from 28 balls when Akhtar returned for one last spell, and with his second ball removed Lara from the field, a fierce bouncer that the West Indian skipper picked up late, and knocked him to the ground. With the match in control, and him clearly not right, Lara retired hurt, to be replaced by Shivnarine Chanderpaul, who was able to bat within himself and push the ball around for 11 before rather gifting his wicket to Malik, but by then it was 102-3 and the only question was if Sarwan would first get to his fifty, and second, remain unbeaten by the end of the game.

The answer to both questions was a resounding yes, and it was fitting that he hit the winning single off Yousuf Youhana with 1 ball short of 22 overs unbowled and Pakistan absolutely destroyed.

Sarwan took the match award, but it could have gone to any of 4 men for their bowling efforts.

After the despair of earlier in the summer for Lara's men, they've really grown together as an effective one day unit, and indeed my only regret on a personal note is not following my own advice and taking the 14-1 each way bet on them that I tipped before the competition.

PAKISTAN 131(38.2 overs)
Hameed 39(56), Collymore 2-24(9), WW Hinds 2-27(10), Bravo 2-41(9), Bradshaw 1-23(8).
WEST INDIES 132-3(28.1 overs)
Sarwan 56*(85), Lara 31rh(30), Akhtar 2-18(7).

Posted by Marc