Arjun Raja is a NRIOL featured sports columnist. To read about Arjun Raja, please Know more.
The final of the Coca-Cola Challenge tournament in Singapore on Sept 8th saw the emergence of the latest star in One-day cricket. And his name is 20 year old Ricardo Powell from Jamaica.
His power and timing is unmatched in today's game. Lance Klusener may hit the ball as hard but Powell seems to have a classic touch, not just brute force.
It also proved one thing, there are days on a cricket field when the performance of one man is enough to defeat the collective efforts of eleven opponents. Today was one of them.
When he walked to the wicket, West Indies chasing 255 for victory were struggling at 67 for 4 wkts and the match seemed all but over, except that Ricardo had bigger ideas. He began his assault with a fantastic off drive against the spin of Nikhil Chopra and from then on there was no stopping him.
He smashed 8 huge sixes (6 of them cleared the ground) in addition to 9 fours and scored 124 in 93 balls (his hundred took 72) out of a total of 179 runs whilst he was at the crease. It was 28 overs of pure mayhem as far as India was concerned.
He showed no favouritism, all the bowlers... he played were treated equally- with utter disdain and contempt. Chopra - the best of the spinners till then, Kumble whose misery continued, Joshi and Prasad were hit around like club bowlers and had no clue or plan on how to stop him. Truly a new star has emerged and plenty of bowlers are going to fear him in the years to come.
Ricardo received good support from Perry who nursed his younger partner along and the two added 118 in just 20 overs to swing the game in favour of West Indies. Their innings is of greater value considering they were the last recognised pair at the wicket and if any of them was dismissed India could have still come back into the game against the batting of the four recognised tailenders.
Earlier in the day, after a dreadful start when India lost skipper Tendulkar for nought in the first over. Dravid scored a marvellous hundred, (103 n.o. in 124 balls), an innings which I rank on par with his first century a couple of years ago against Pakistan in the cauldron at Chennai. He was out of form as his performance over the past few games suggested, but coming in so early helped him plan his innings, bat as naturally as he could without thinking too much of the run rate.
He received good support from Ganguly who scored 46 and Chopra who scored a brilliant 60 in the circumstances. The only silver lining in an otherwise dark cloud surrounding Indian cricket today is the emergence of Chopra as a bowling all-rounder, a rare species in Indian cricket these days.
India totalled 254 in the allotted 50 overs and the highlight of the innings in addition to Rahul Dravid' s fine unbeaten 103 was the unbelievable analysis of the veteran Courtney Walsh whose figures read 10-2-19-1.Absolutely awesome bowling on a batting paradise.
That West Indies won is no surprise considering the shambles Indian cricket is in today and unless the selectors make quick changes, I'm afraid the slide will continue.
Look at the West Indian selectors who showed faith in Powell although he was playing only his first season for Jamaica. They took him to the World Cup to give him a feel of international cricket and now a decent opportunity has paid off.
The Indian selectors are a joke. They select only one specialist keeper for a twin tour and then promptly ask one of their finest batsmen to don the gloves. Ridiculous. What happens if Dravid breaks a finger? Didn't a regular like Mongia get injured?
Already missing Sachin and Jadeja for the Toronto tour, risking Dravid as a keeper is the height of madness. Thank god he is the co-operative type and agreed to keep wickets. Mind you, today he batted from the 2nd over till the 50thand then kept for a further 48. If he had missed a catch of Powell early on, who is to blame?
Next is the continuation of the Kambli Show or is it "No-Show"? His performance is an embarrassment to himself, the selectors and the nation. And to think that Vijay Bharadwaj who has scored an Indian Record of 1300 runs last season in the Ranji Trophy championship is twiddling his thumbs at home.
When the opportunity arose to take another fast bowler to Toronto, the selectors plumped for another unknown - Amit Bhandari from Delhi. I have nothing against the boy but what is the value of taking 62 wickets in one Ranji season if it doesn't get you a place even as the fifth choice bowler as is the case with Dodda Ganesh. Both Ganesh and Bharadwaj are selected to play a few 'A' team matches in Los Angeles against Australia 'A' which is not much of a consolation.
For the sake of Indian cricket I wish a specialist keeper gets behind the wickets at Toronto in the 3 match series against the West Indies from 11th September. I hope Kambli enjoys his last few days as an international player on the bench and both the newcomers, Amit Bhandari and Jacob Martin are given a fair chance to prove themselves. No sense in taking them all the way to Toronto on a shopping trip.
But the bottom line is that the Indians seem to have lost belief in themselves and unless Sachin and the management act fast, Indian cricket will lose a lot of fans in India and everywhere else in the world.
Brief Scores :
India 254 for 6 wkts in 50 overs
Rahul Dravid 103 n.o., Nikhil Chopra 61, Saurav Ganguly 46.
Perry 3 for 65, Walsh 1 for 19 in 10 overs.
West Indies : 255 for 6 wkts in 47.4 overs
Ricardo Powell 124 in 93 balls, Perry 38.
DS Mohanty 3 for 50, Chopra 2 for 43
West Indies won the Coco-Cola Singapore Challenge by 4 Wickets with 2.2 overs to spare. Read more
- Arjun Raja in Dubai, UAE
The views of this column are the author's own, and do not necessarily represent the views of NRI Online.
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