ICC Champions Trophy 2013
Match Preview- India v/s West Indies (Group B)
Two teams, both winners in their first group games, take on eachother at the Oval for an almost-confirmed spot in the semi-finals of the ICC Champions Trophy 2013. After India defeated South Africa in their first game, West Indies beat the more fancied Pakistan in their first game- leaving the other two to battle for survival just one game into the group stages.
India has come into the tournament looking rejuvenated (IPL, dare say?) and powerful with a new batting order. Their bowling remains an issue, unlike the West Indies- who face a different dilemma. Their bowling is one of the stronger attacks in the tournament, with Roach and Rampaul in top form- not to mention the no. 1 ranked spinner Narine. Gayle and the rest of the batting though, are yet to fire properly- still adapting to the 50 over game after ruling the IPL in India once again.
West Indies (Winners 2004)
Marlon Samuels is not the only West Indian cricketer that is enjoying his second stint with the national team. His second wind is down to his increased responsibility off the field with his extended family, and there are various other reasons for the second wind of Gayle, Bravo, Sarwan, Rampaul and many others. One of the main reasons for their peaceful and enjoyable new team environment was the installation of ‘good-hearted’ Darren Sammy as captain a few years ago. While the results fluctuated between dreadful and brilliant (World T20 title), his main contribution has been the typical Caribbean frolic and fun attitude that he has instilled into a previously-fractured and disturbed team setup. Under him, Gayle made his return- as well as Bravo and Pollard, the two Trinidadians. Sometimes, the process back to the top is much more than just results- it is about a gradual transformation, from doubt to self-belief, within the team while feeding off one another. Sammy is the man behind this much-needed return of style, and most fans don’t mind that they are still capable of collapsing like a house of cards, as long as they celebrate their wins like nobody else.
Therefore, it was a surprise that Sammy was left out of the game against Pakistan- where all rounders are the need of the hour. Sarwan played in his place, but even he would admit that he is well past his best- and Samuels is in the side to perform the same middle order role. Sammy’s cunning bowling and sincere face is needed on the field, even under new captain Bravo- who will take time to come to terms with the fact that this is 50 over cricket. The team is a bunch of brilliant all rounders, the best in the tournament, and dropping one of them throws off the balance completely. Pollard alone cannot handle the lower middle order.
Key Players- Darren Bravo and Darren Sammy
Darren Bravo has a good record against India and will cherish playing against them again after being woefully out of form for a while. Sammy, meanwhile, knows the Indian players well- just like captain Dwayne, and will try to put their knowledge past the 20 over limit to make a difference.
India (Joint Winners 2002)
This is one trophy missing from the Indian cabinet over the last decade, with the joint-result in 2002 not doing justice to Dhoni’s rising ambitions. An outright win is needed to justify their no. 1 ODI status- which is only a fact right now because the other teams are really not playing good cricket. If Australia is the no. 2 team, one can only imagine the state of the ranking system. After a convincing batting-powered win over a depleted South African side, India will look to beat the ultimate dark horses of World Cricket. That they face Pakistan next will only spur them on, because if there was ever a definition of unpredictability- it is Pakistan and West Indies, easily the most dangerous teams in the tournament even now. Now that Dhoni’s gamble of playing Rohit as an opener is slowly paying off, he will look to make his own position in the batting order more flexible- depending on the situation. The team doesn’t need to be tinkered with just yet, with every batsman looking good and the bowlers doing an adequate enough job.
Key Players– Rohit Sharma and Dinesh Karthik
The Mumbai Indians duo are in another comeback mode, and will want to steal the limelight from Kohli and Raina for once. This could just be their tournament.
Many predict that one of these two teams could go on to win the entire tournament. While that is true, only one can win today. West Indies could come out on tops, leaving the India-Pakistan clash to be virtually a knockout game.