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West Indies on the up as India slips
by Vijay Jeedigunta
Nov 04, 2006
Nothing succeeds like success. The old adage seems to be working wonders for West Indies. With their new found energy, they are blazing a new trail. Not since Kapil’s Devils upset the applecart of the then greatest team ever in that unforgettable 1983 World Cup final at Lord's has a rank outsider played in the finals of a major tournament.

Lara's team is now destined to inflict the same kind of wound that Kapil's team inflicted on Lloyd's two time defending champions more than two decades ago, when they take on Australia at Mumbai, on sunday in the Champions Trophy final. No one gave a West Indies a chance even though Lara fired the warning shots during the DLF Cup.

It is now official that Australia and West Indies are the top two teams of the cricketing world. India indirectly helped revive the old and long forgotten rivalry between Australia and West Indies. After 1975, Australia and West Indies have not contested in a major final. India allowed them to do that in DLF cup and now again in Champions Trophy.

This can only be good for cricket. India's capabilities have been over-hyped and all the noise about India being number two behind Australia and the only team that can give them a run for their money has now been silenced.

West Indies has more ammunition and have shown that they can win without even requiring their leader and the star player, Brian Lara, to score. West Indies can now claim to be the only team that can give Australia a good fight.

About the disastrous journey of the Indian team both in DLF Cup in Malaysia and Champions trophy at home, the less said the better.

Too much importance has been attached to a small number of players who get to keep their positions in the team due to past glory.

And they fail to perform when needed. When India won a major tournament, it did it thanks to the concerted effort of players neither super-duper skills nor zillion dollar endorsements. India has achieved more with focussed effort by average players like Balwinder Sandhu, Roger Binny, Madan Lal, Yashpal Sharma, Mohinder Amarnath and Syed Kirmani than the current lot has with their star status.

That team that won India the World Cup in 1983 had no high profile coach, no high profile captain, no high profile batsman like Tendulkar. Just plain and simple team work.

It is about time India got back to basics - getting maximum bang for the buck like Kapil did in 1983.

Perhaps, India needs the rusty leadership qualities of Kapil to put it out of its misery.

Otherwise, with the current mindset of the team and their insipid and inconsistent performances, India and its fans should prepare for a very long dry period.

Especially, if the current selection committee chairman, Dilip Vengsarkar's observation of not having enough bench strength and lack of talent among the players to reach the International level is true, then it would be even longer as most of the Indian stalwarts are at the end of their careers.

Its been twenty three long years since West Indies failed to reach a World Cup final. Even though they ruled the test cricket arena as long as King Richards led them.

Lack of talent and shortage of players to fill in the voids left behind by players like Lloyd, Richards, Roberts, Holding, Garner, Gomes, Dujon and Marshall resulted in the descent of West Indies and made them a easy pushovers.

Just as Tendulkar's presence did not fetch a World Cup for India, Lara's contributions did not do the trick for the West Indies. It proves the point beyond doubt that even though the brilliance of individuals may win the battles, it is collective team work that wins the wars.

At last West Indies seems to have rediscovered that spirit in abundance.

How long it would take for India to reclaim their past glory is a question best answered by Indian cricketing authorities, team members and the Indian cricket fans who seem to always enjoy a century by Tendulkar or a quick-fire fifty by Dhoni or Sewhag, rather than an Indian victory as in the DLF Cup match against West Indies.

There is now a great possibility that the King of One Day International Cricket may very well end his career without ODI’s most coveted trophy - the World Cup.
 
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