In the great game of cricket you don’t have to anything freakish all the time; just doing the simple things will do the job for you. My mantra and maybe that of the minds that love this sport; the likes of which run the sport and make it what it is.
A celebration like no other.
But having said that, as I, Prashant Kumar Banjare, a cricket buff-turned-cricket reporter could spot this and right in the thick of the action of the semi final at the world class Road Safety Series 2022, my thoughts turned to the plight of the West Indies legends.
And this posed just one question:
What if the West Indies legends too had followed that basic rule whilst trying a run chase that shouldn’t have been all that tough?
Though on the contrary, the West Indies Legends, much to the chagrin of their passionate fans, self included, did just the opposite.
The Prince of Trinidad at Raipur
Skipper Brian Lara, despite being half-fit decided to play the game as any brave captain who wishes to lead by an example would.
Moreover, he looked in his elements as he opened the batting during the run chase giving hope that the halcyon days of the past much like the environment of the 213 (vs Aussies) or the glorious 117 off just 62 ( vs Bangladesh in 1999) would come true.
Except it didn’t and that it’s where one learned the biggest lesson that there is; that just when takes things for granted, cricket plays the beautiful equaliser and that’s what Sri Lanka did. Much like their full name of the team: legends.
After Lara showed his class to the Raipurians with fine strokes on both sides, Sri Lankan seamer Kulasekara castled him much to the disappointment of legion of the Trinidadian’s fans.
The Windies Legends elected to bowl first after winning the toss and really bowled well to peg Sri Lanka back. Just the kind of start to a contest that the intrepid Caribbean fan would’ve liked.
So how was that?
When Jerome Taylor bowled Tilakaratne Dilshan neck and crop with a peach of delivery, it seemed the Windies, then right on the money, would stay that way.
Except it wasn’t to be; from being in a position where it all looked cozy for Windies Legends, the team soon found itself scampering.
The tide turns, but not in favour of the West Indies
But how did that even happen?
Instances such as sloppiness in the field, ever a West Indian habit hurt the side led by cricketing hero Brian Lara.
There was an instance where an overthrow that went for four runs that stood out and not in the manner that the fan back home in the islands or any at Raipur would’ve liked.
Sri Lankans, meanwhile, wouldn’t have asked for more- and why not?
Of course, this erroneous display in the field was the first of many.
There was also an instance where a beamer bowled – lest it is forgotten mistakenly – by Suleiman Benn of all bowlers hurt the bowling side.
How often, just how often does one see a proper spinner bowl one?
The mighty left-arm spinner is regarded for his controlled line and length, which brings back memories of his incredible spell against the Aussies back in the day.
Though, this instance wasn’t about chuckles.
Nonetheless, it wouldn’t be cricket if it didn’t result in something whacky and Benn’s harmless error was one such sight.
Just that in resulted in a free hit, which went for a six. This, precisely shifted the momentum back in favour of Sri Lanka.
Hits and misses
Make no mistake; the Windies Legends kept on taking wickets at regular intervals.
But the Sri Lankan resolve to fight back and spring the game in their favour was unbearable (something that eventually turned out true).
Scoring frequent boundaries did aid the Dilshan, Jayasuriya-powered side get put up a decent 172 on the board.
But credit to where it’s due; Ishan Jayaratne was the top scorer in making a breezy 31 of just 19 deliveries.
For Windies, Santokie was a stand out with the white ball. Ever the calm medium pacer about whom it appears that maybe the cricket board back home could’ve played him a lot more.
It must also be said, he’s among the nicest blokes to talk too.
But if there was a moment of the match that truly became definitive in a sense in that it conveyed so much to both caribbean loyalists and fans anywhere in the world then it was the sight of Brian Lara’s arrival onto the wicket.
Thrilled would convey the point albeit, insufficiently
Indescribable, passion-fuelled and maybe more adjectives storm the mind. It happened to me.
If my word is believed, the fans were at their emotive best (read cheerful best) the moment they saw the Trinidadian prince walk out to open the innings.
That he was there with in-form Dwayne Smith was the icing on the cake.
The exaggerated moments, the hop and the eagle-like vision of the ball; all Brian Lara trademarks that made his brief – but explosive- stay at the wicket worth everyone’s while (maybe even that of the bowlers).
Brian Lara looked in sublime touch as he raced to 17 in no time with four boundaries.
Even at this age, the charismatic left, it wasn’t hard to see, hasn’t lost his touch.
The reflexes, if one might put it that way politely, may have gone down a touch, with but the talent is incredible as is his stint in any part of the contest- whether Windies batting first or amid a chase.
After his dismissal, Dwayne smith too showed his aggressive style of batting with few boundaries but as soon as the Sri Lankan spinners came into the attack, the runs dried up.
Moreover, you could sense it distinctly that the bowlers were using the slowness of the wicket to fill advantage. And why not?
Truly speaking and for the fear of stating a cliche, facing spinners requires skill like using soft hands using feet to put doubt in bowlers mind.
The same old mistakes
These are just the things the world expects the a legendary presence of cricket like the West Indies to now be on top of. It’s not just about the rising force that is the Road Safety World Series; at the international arena, it ought to be said, gladly there are the likes of Hope, Brooks, Hetmyer and Pooran around- a quartet that’s doing its fair bit to add gravitas and sense to a side usually favouring a wham-bam style of play.
But more focus on where it’s due: not very long after Brian Lara departed, Dwayne Smith, who’d been in incredible form, of late, attempted a sweep on Jayasuriya, but much to his dismay, got trapped in front.
Though this wasn’t before having done his best to resuscitate an inning that did need some helping hand.
Not that the Windies legends’ troubles ended there; on the every next delivery, Kirk Edwards, the man who was once a stable number #3 at the Test level, found himself cleaned up.
What the West Indies legends may have liked to do differently
Truly speaking, the quintessential Sri Lankan ability at chipping back at their opponents (evident at the highest level of Cricket and across formats) was pretty evident.
At the same time, whether as spectator or journalist embroiled amid a captivating contest, it wasn’t hard to overlook something peculiar about the Caribbean batting.
The old habit of throwing the game away when things could perhaps have been controlled by applying exactly that quality with which Sri Lanka reigned in the end.
The word is resilience and Caribbean legends like Brian Charles Lara and Chanderpaul (one hopes the Guyanese can make it to the Road Safety World Series too some day) have been its great epithets.
But to boil it down to the problem area; on September 30, 2022, the West Indies legends weren’t comfortable playing the slower bowlers.
One reckons, they should have grafted a little or done well in seeing off the spinners. But their impetuousness brought about their downfall when such a thing could’ve been avoided.
The fight, if not the fightback!
However, it must be said in no uncertain terms that the West Indies did show some fight in different aspects of the contest.
For instance, as the West Indies chase wore on left-arm spinner Narsingh Deonarine produced some magic with the bat.
He stood tall for them legends in striking wonderful half century and raised hopes for a West Indies legends win.
But there’s little a bowler that can bat can do when those entrusted with the task of batting struggle to do their part. Right?
When Deonarine too got out at the wrong time, though not before having done his bit, it just became even tougher than it was before.
Although, Jermoe Taylor struck some lusty blows towards the end, but by then, it was too late.
Sri Lanka must be truly credited
Having said that, the Sri Lankan Legends fielded well, held their catches and didn’t panic when Danzy Hyatt and Deonarine had a very good partnership.
The die-hard Caribbean fan, self included, wished Lara’s maverick side had done that too.
To conclude, in big games like a semi-final, that team that usually holds the nerve goes over the finish line with a smile and a look of contentment. And that’s precisely why it wasn’t a surprise to see the Sri Lankans as the happier of the two in the end.
The Lankan lions, as the unit is so often called in cricket, truly their nerve and in the end, came out victorious.
|Note: On the behalf of the team at Caught At Point, Prashant Kumar Banjare, would like to thank the entire unit behind the Road Safety World Series for organising, yet again, a fantastic event that truly beckons to be called a spectacle! Here’s why: if you think to get big names under one roof such as Tendulkar, Yuvraj, Watson, Dilshan, Jayasuriya, Bell and Lara himself is an easy task, then think again! Hats off to the incredible support staff; the groundsmen, the media crew, the videographers, the cameramen, the ops team and everyone who got together and gave us much joy.
Caught At Point wishes to highlight some Road Safety World Series personnel that it interacted with over the course of the past fortnight! Professionals who were an absolute peach in their conduct and regard: Mr. Ajit, Ms. Priya, Mr. Avinash, Mr. Harsh, to name a few!