This was easily one of the most one-sided quarterfinals in cricket World Cup history and a sad end to what might have been a promising revival to West Indian cricket. In the end, it was an easy 10-wicket victory, with 30 overs to spare, for an extremely precise and clinical Pakistani team against the West Indies, the weakest of the Full Member teams.
The West Indies haven’t won a series against any other Full Member team for over four years now, with the last victory coming against Sri Lanka back in 2007-2008. The architects in that victory were Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Dwayne Bravo and Chris Gayle. Four years and many new players later, the team still depends on the same players for any sort of inpiration.
Dwayne Bravo is the only real all-rounder to have come out of the West Indies in recent times, but unluckily had to leave the tournament with a knee injury. And the West Indies have missed his abilities, both with the ball and bat.
Heading the West Indies batting line-up is the “renegade from a dystopian future”, Chris Gayle. He is cavalier and nonchalant in attitude, and worthy of destroying any bowling attack if he gets his eye in. But if he misses out, as he did today, the entire team does fall like a stack of cards, except of course if we have an in-form Chanderpaul. The great man has been for a while the only constancy amidst the decline in West Indian cricket, and the backbone of an inexperienced and fragile team.
But even Chanderpaul has been going through a lean patch of late, which only makes the already weak team perilously close to shattering under its own weight of technical ineptitude. He did choose today to stay unbeaten, painstakingly reaching 44 at a strike rate of less that 45: a slow torturous crawl to the end.
The trouble with West Indies is its complete lack of technically sound players who can actually score runs against a good bowler. With a captain who is unsure of his own role in the side, to a bunch of hitters who have no clue how to play a balanced game, this team is easy fodder for any bowling attack ready to exploit it. And Pakistan chose today to do the same.
Over after over we watched a motivated spin attack take apart the West Indian team, and after 28 overs of a painful display of clueless batting against spin ever seen in recent times, the agony ended as West Indies were all out for 112.
Pakistan made sure that they moved to victory without breaking a sweat as no West Indian bowler came close to posing any sort of threat. It is to Pakistan’s credit that they did not self-combust as they often do, and to the Pakistani captain’s credit that he managed to give some good bowling practice to most of his bowlers before a more difficult match against either archrivals India or World Champions Australia.
All in all, it was a game that failed to live up to its expectations. Makes you wonder about the controversial Gary Wilson decision that led to Ireland losing to the West Indies. The Irish would surely believe that they would have given a better fight out here than the West Indies finally did.
On we move to the defending champions Australia and the hosts India tomorrow for what seems to be on paper a more equal match.
Photo credit: International Cricket Council