Posted on February 7, 2011. Filed under: CRICKET, CRICKET WORLD CUP, ICC CRICKET WORLD CUP 2011, ICC WORLD CUP 2003, WILLS CRICKET WORLD CUP 1996 | Tags: , , , , |


Few players have in the modern era have been as entertaining to the true followers as the left-hander from the tiny island of Trinidad and Tobago. Yes, I am talking about Brian Charles Lara, the only man to have made 400 in a test innings and 501 in a first class innings. His highest score before the quadruple hundred was 375. It was a pure delight watching Lara bat whether in a test match or in limited overs. But he could never be a part of a World Cup winning team.

But there have been a few innings from the flashing blade of Lara that spelt doom for the opponents in the World Cup.

Lara was a part of the West Indies team that took to the field in the World Cup of 1992 but apart from the half-century against Pakistan there was very little from him. But by 1996, Lara was clearly the most accomplished batsman of his team. The team was not a favourite but managed to reach the semi-finals.

In the quarterfinals the West Indies took on the mighty South Africa at Karachi. Few gave the West Indies any chance considering the Proteas had it very easy against all opponents in the earlier matches. The West Indies batted first and made 264 with Chanderpaul and Lara scoring the bulk of the runs. Lara played as only he could, scoring against all the bowlers with his 111 coming off only 94 balls. The ball kept eluding the fielders and speeded away to the boundary on both sides of the wicket. Worse, Jacques Kallis a very reliable catcher, dropped Lara and the batsman took full advantage of the reprieve. Once these two batsmen departed, the innings folded for a score that was not seemingly enough. However, the South Africans have been showing us again and again as to why they are called the ‘chokers’ and they fell short of the target and were knocked out off the World Cup.

In the semi-finals, the Australians struggled to score freely against the likes of Bishop, Walsh and Ambrose. The West Indies seemed to have the match in their grip until Lara tried to manufacture a shot and was bowled by Steve Waugh. It was only then that Warne took over and hastened the demise of the West Indies. But for that fateful shot, the West Indies could have been in the final.

There was very little of note as far as Lara was concerned in the World Cup of 1999.By 2003, there was little expected from the West Indies. South Africa was the host and even as the team was just rebuilding following the aftermath of Cronjegate, the West Indies was not considered much of a challenge.

The hosts took on the West Indies in the first match of the ICC World Cup of 2003 at Newlands in Capetown. Gayle and Hinds departed early and Lara took to the crease. He received good support from the other batsmen like Chanderpaul, Sarwan and Hooper. Lara made 116 and the West Indies put up 278 runs on the board. Lara started cautiously, but as more time was spent at the wicket, the shots started to flow from his bat. Once again, the ghosts of the past caught up as South Africa fell short of 3 runs. This defeat did not knock South Africa out of the World Cup but as things transpired was one of the factors for the first round exit of the hosts.

A month ago, Lara expressed his desire to take part in the Indian Premier League much to the surprise of everyone. The team owners had other ideas and decided not to ‘buy’ Lara. Does Brian Charles Lara require the approval of the ‘chaddi’ cricket to cement his place in the hall of fame?

Wah Lara, kya mara!

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Posted on February 1, 2011. Filed under: CRICKET, CRICKET WORLD CUP, WILLS CRICKET WORLD CUP 1996 | Tags: , , , , , |


Aravinda De Silva had made a name for himself much before the Wills Cricket World Cup of 1996.As an Indian and a fan of Kapil Dev, it pained me a lot when De Silva hit the great bowler for a six in a test match.

Aravinda made the headlines for his ability to take on the best of the bowlers-both pace and spin. He was not afraid to play the horizontal shots when the ball bounced. He was all power and at times, the ball just sped to the boundary seemingly at the slight wave of the bat. Aravinda seemed to infuse the finesse of some his predecessors like Roy Dias with power. As was the case with most of his teammates, Aravinda too did not mind having a paunch.

The 1996 World Cup saw Sri Lanka in its full glory where everything seemed to work for the men from the small island nation. The batsmen could score runs; the bowlers took the wickets while fielding was top class. Every member of the team contributed to the ultimate triumph while the class of Aravinda came into its won during the semi-finals and the finals.

Sanath Jayasuriya and Romesh Kaluwitharana gave their team flying starts and most opponents were too shell shocked to trouble the rest of the Sri Lankan team. But in the semi-finals versus India at the Eden Gardens, things went from bad to worse for the islanders. Srinath sent the opening pair back to the pavilion with very few runs. Asanka Gurusinghe was given a rough time before he too fell to Srinath. Things started looking really rosy for India and a spot in the finals at Karachi seemed very real.

I can still remember the day of the match. It was the day when examinations were going on and every now and then I went away from the examination hall to get the latest scores. The first three wickets were followed by three crackers and after a while there was an eerie silence. The reason was Aravinda was taking on the Indian bowlers. There was a cover drive that looked ominous and in the company of Roshan Mahanama, De Silva took Sri Lanka to a good total. As it turned out, this total was beyond the reach of India and Sri Lanka was in the finals.

The finals featured Sri Lanka and Australia in the city of Karachi in Pakistan. The Aussies did not go to Sri Lanka for the preliminary round of matches citing security reasons. There were the usual mind games before the big match. The Aussies appeared confident while Arjuna Ranatunga did not blink. History had favoured the Aussies to win the World Cup for a second time. I had not fully recovered from the trashing India received from Sri Lanka but I did not want the Aussies to win.

The Aussies could not post a good total. The famed batting line-up boasting the likes of the Waugh twins, Stuart Law, Michael Bevan, Ponting and Healy failed to make a big score. The spinners of Sri Lanka made it difficult to score freely and Aravinda had a big role taking 3 key wickets-Mark Taylor, Ponting and Healy.

The target was not stiff but Shane Warne was expected to make the ball talk but the genius of Aravinda put an end to all such speculation. Like in the semi-finals, Jayasuriya and Kaluwitharana failed.Aravinda scored a century and along with Gurusinghe put the match beyond the reach of the Aussies. There were all kinds of shots-the powerful and also the subtle ones.

Truly a great World Cup for a great player. Like Mohinder Amarnath in 1983, Aravinda contributed immensely with both the bat and the ball.

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