Clash of the Titans

The ICC Champions trophy final is all set for a grand finale between the Aussies and the Windies. The Carribeans have been the most improved team since April, after their rather stunning turnaround in the one day series against India. I guess playing Zimbabwe at home, and beating them hollow 5-0 did a real favour to the West Indies as they found ways of winning which seemed almost non existent in recent years. As I was having my lunch, I picked up an old issue of The Sportstar dating to 1995,which talked about how Richie Richardson, the erstwhile WestIndies captain, made jarring comments about the Australian team calling them the "weakest team to tour the carribean", even after losing the series 1-2 to the Aussies.

That was the beginning of the end, in terms of WestIndian cricket, as victories have been few and far in between happening only versus India,England and Zimbabwe (1998 vs England 4-3 ,1999 Coca Cola Trophy,2001 Coca Cola Trophy, 2002 India TVS Cup and the 2004 Champions trophy). In between we got to see the worst of Carribean cricket,even though individual performances by Lara,Sarwan or Chanderpaul still shone through. So Will this Aussie match again be the turnaround in fortunes for the Windies? I belive so,atleast, as I see a ceratin hunger and a method in madness,in theirgame,which sadly has been lacking for a good part of 10 years.A victory at the ICC Champions trophy again can do a world of good to the Carribeans,in terms of reinstating their position back at the helm.

The semi final line up, pretty much were the most adaptable and improved teams since the last world cup.New Zealand and South Africa,in my opinion would continue to be on the top, since they are a team of 11 players , than being 3 or 4 star studded individuals making the team. Pakistan and India continue to show glimpses of brilliance, mainly bordering on inconsistency,while the lankans lag behind,when facing quality attacks and pressure.

The Poms, are going through an extended horrible run since 1995,and dont really seem to have set the Thames on fire since then(Victories include 97 Texaco trophy,Champions Trophy(Sharjah) and the Ashes Test series in 05).Otherwise ODI cricket wise, they have had a bad time, even though they did show some promise under Nasser Hussain.The Poms lack the ideal elements of a one day team.They just have 3 worldclass batsmen in Strauss,Flintoff and Pieterson,while the others fire once in twenty games(with the consistency of an Agarkar).Their bowling looks propped up in terms of pace, but lacks the momentum in the middle overs to complement Harmison and Sajid Mahmood. No Allrounders means, the death knell and all England can do is to compete fiercely with the likes of Zimbabwe or India to get some confidence before the World Cup.

So as they say, the new order changeth... I foresee the same semifinal line up in the World cup too(depending on the draws). I would be cheering for the Windies though...its time the bajans celebrated their existence in ODI Cricket

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