ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, March 18, 2007
Vol. 41 - No 42

The games begin

After three days of cricket at the World Cup there are early indications of the strengths and from of the teams that have got into the action. A constant question before the tournament started still is how will the pitches play? Early indications are that there is pace and bounce and even opportunity to build big scores.

Bravo stood out in the match against Pakistan

Most of the grounds in the islands are small in size and that too helps to swell the totals. However, the pitches themselves must give the batsman liberty to score runs in the one day game and so far that has been witnessed.

The hosts drew first blood in the opening game. After having a terrible warm-up game against India, the Windies regrouped to provide a match winning effort. They need their big trio in the batting department, Chris Gayle, Brain Lara and Shivnarene Chanderpaul to fire, to win games consistently in this game. On this occasion they did not make an impression, with only Lara getting into the thirties.

It was Marlon Samuels and the two young allrounders Dwayne Smith and Dwayne Bravo who helped their team reach a respectable total. These two allrounders will have to play a major role for their team in all three departments of the game and in this opening game they proved they had plenty of ability to perform against the best opposition.

The West Indies relied on an all pace attack. Darren Powel, Jerome Taylor and Corey Collymore, together with Smith and Bravo did all the bowling. Chris Gayle who usually figures prominently in one dayers, with his off breaks, nor part timer Marlon Samuels was used by Lara. Perhaps the West Indians are planning to work to maximum with pace. A proven tool for them in their glory years.

Pakistan was hot and cold as they often are. They have to pull themselves together to play to their best potential through an entire game. Both on the field and with the bat they pushed their opponents against the wall but when it began to matter they were unable to pile on the pressure and lost the grip they had got.

The Pakistani’s banked a lot on their lesser experienced players and fell short. They too need Younus Khan, Mohamed Yousuf and skipper Inzamam to fire with the bat. The bowling was steady but somewhat over reliant on spin. They must await the return of Abdul Razak and Shahid Afridi. The strength and balance of the side will be raised with their presence.

Joy time for the Windies

The Australians after some late season mishaps got back to business as usual. Although against the much less fancied Scots, their display was polished and very professional. Andrew Symonds is expected back in the team in about ten days. That will make them the complete side.

Many players who have been tried but not been permanent fixtures are now in there or almost there. The likes of Brad Hodge, Shaun Tait, Shane Watson, Stuart Clark, form that group. Skipper Ricky Ponting got himself and the team off to the ideal start. His impeccable form continues. Should he get the big scores then Australia is in contention to win the lot.

Sri Lanka also joined the Aussies in passing the three hundred mark. Although no single player made a century there were contributions allround. Most encouraging was the return to form of Captain Mahela Jayawardane. Time in the middle was what was required and he was able to do just that. Chamara Silva impressed again with an undefeated half century.

The Sri Lankan think tanks are now firmly committed to playing seven batsmen. They are well served, in that Sangakkara and Jayasuriya fill in allrounders berths as well. It is essential that Mahroof and Dilhara Fernando play their part in the bowling department. In particular cutting off bowling wides and no balls. With the vastly experienced bowling pair of Muttiah Muralitharan and Chaminda Vaas as the main strike bowlers, this team has it all in terms of balance. The games have begun. The teams are all in the fray. Millions will be burning the midnight oil backing the teams of their choice.

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Copyright 2007 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.