You are here
WI seeking slice of history
Delhi—It was 15 years and four World Cups ago that Brian Lara battered South Africa into submission. They had dominated the group stage of the World Cup, winning every match and then they ran into him. He smashed 111 off 94 balls, and received few other valuable contributions from the rest of the order that helped West Indies amass 264 for 8. South Africa were stunned and not even intent from Andrew Hudson, aggression from Daryll Cullinan and fight from Pat Symcox could take them over the line. Seven years later, that same Lara blasted South Africa’s dreams somewhere onto Table Mountain. With each of the 12 fours and two sixes that came off his bat that day, a small part of South African hope drifted up, up and away. In the end, his 116 was part of a very gettable score of 278 for 5 that the West Indies posted, and it was the Caribbean bowlers who burnt the last remaining bit of ambition South Africa had to win their World Cup opener on home soil.
Four years after that, in a different tournament, the World Twenty20, Chris Gayle threatened to do the same when he became the first man to score a century in Twenty20 cricket, his 117 came at a strike rate of over 200. South Africa faced another defeat but this time the West Indian bowlers were not up for it. More than three years have passed and the two teams have another date. It’s not a tournament opener but it is the first match either side will play in this competition. “It’s a new tournament and it’s in a different setting,” as Dwayne Bravo said, but it’s still a small slice of history that can be used as inspiration to one of the teams and a warning to the other.
The West Indies have lost 169 of the 320 matches they’ve played since then, more than half, including six ODI series to South Africa. They’ve gone from bad to worse to joke and every time it looks as though they are turning the corner, they slide right back to where they started. Except twice. In 2004, when they won the Champions Trophy and in 2006, when they reached the final of the same tournament. Their victims in the semi-final in 2006 were none other than South Africa and, as if by some magic spell, Gayle was it again. The West Indies were chasing a modest 259 and Gayle didn’t want to waste time doing it. His 133-ball 133 snatched any sign of a contest away and had Shivanarine Chanderpaul not retired with the score on 194 without loss, the South African bowlers were at real risk of never making a breakthrough.
It’s become such a habit for West Indies to pull the rug from under South Africa’s feet, usually with the help of one centurion, that Richie Richardson, now the West Indies team manager, says it will be no surprise if they do it again. “We have always beaten them, if we do that again it won’t be an upset,” he said. Still, he has cautioned the team not to rely or even think about the history. “We will not be going into the match thinking, we beat them in the past.” Most are with Bravo, saying the team has not even recalled the stories of matches of tournaments past. “We don’t discuss South Africa’s history in the World Cup and we don’t discuss our history in the World Cup,” he said. Only Chris Gayle flirted with the idea briefly when he said, “Give and take they are beatable,” but he quickly added a condition, “all teams are beatable, we just have to try and be discreet going about our business.” Like all teams, the West Indies are not talking the big talk until they’ve walked at least some of the big walk. If there is one team that can do that with a distinctive swagger, it’s them, so don’t be surprised if there is a mysterious little spring in the Caribbean step today when they walk out to kick off their tournament.
How the teams shape
South Africa: WWLLW
West Indies: LLLLL
The Kotla has not hosted an international since December 2009 when a dangerous pitch forced the ODI between India and Sri Lanka to be abandoned after 23 overs. It has since been re-laid.
Watch out for
The last 12 months in one-day cricket have been raining runs for Hashim Amla. He has scored 1,308 runs in 20 matches at an average of 72.66, but beyond the numbers his style with the bat has done the talking.
Amla has gone from being a careful customer to a flamboyant flasher and has been seen going wild in the first ten overs of an innings. Darren Bravo has been talked up as the next Brian Lara. The younger Bravo has only played 13 matches with a top score of 74 against Canada. He also gave a respectable enough account of himself against South Africa in May last year and if ever there was a stage big enough to show he can fill Lara’s boots, this is it.
South Africa (probable): 1 Graeme Smith, 2 Hashim Amla, 3 Jacques Kallis, 4 AB de Villiers, 5 JP Duminy, 6 Faf du Plessis, 7 Robin Peterson, 8 Johan Botha, 9 Morne Morkel, 10 Dale Steyn, 11 Lonwabo Tsotsobe
West Indies (probable): 1 Chris Gayle, 2 Devon Smith, 3 Darren Bravo, 4 Ramnaresh Sarwan, 5 Shivnarine Chanderpaul, 6 Dwayne Bravo, 7 Kieron Pollard, 8 Darren Sammy, 9 Ravi Rampaul, 10 Kemar Roach, 11 Sulieman Benn
Stats and Trivia
South Africa have beaten the West Indies in their last 11 ODIs. That includes a match in the 2007 World Cup and a series both at home and in the Caribbean. The last time West Indies registered a win against South Africa was in 2006 in the Champions Trophy semi-final. West Indies have never lost a match at the Kotla. Of the seven matches they’ve played there, only one was a one-dayer in 1989, where they beat India. South Africa have not played an ODI at the Kotla. The highest score and the lowest score at this ground came in the same match. Pakistan scored 303-8 and bowled India out for 144. Kieron Pollard has not been dismissed in single figures against South Africa, although he only averages 24.00.
User comments posted on this website are the sole views and opinions of the comment writer and are not representative of Guardian Media Limited or its staff. Guardian Media Limited accepts no liability and will not be held accountable for user comments.
Please help us keep out site clean from inappropriate comments by using the flag option.
Guardian Media Limited reserves the right to remove, to edit or to censor any comments. Any content which is considered unsuitable, unlawful or offensive, includes personal details, advertises or promotes products, services or websites or repeats previous comments will be removed.