Thursday, September 21, 2006

D L F?

In other words, Did Lara Falter as a captain by batting himself, the best batsman, at number nine in yesterday's nail-biter of a run chase against India? Was it overconfidence on his part? Was it poor experimentation? And that's not all - there's another nasty angle: "Was it a got up match?" asked my colleague today. Typical Lara.

The intuitive captain that Lara is, it is likely to be none of those. 'A gamble' is perhaps a more correct call. West Indies have already qualified for the finals and it is quite possible that Lara saw dual benefits in trying out his perennially failing lower order bats at the top in last evening's modest chase. Those batsmen could have gained much needed confidence if West Indies could win without the services of Gayle and Lara. The West Indian spoke about that angle in the post match conference.

Lara kept silent about the other perceived benefit of his experiment though. It would have been 'improper' to make a public expression of it. He reckoned that even the unlikely outcome of an Indian win would significantly bolster India's chances of making it to the finals - which is all very well for West Indian chances of winning a long awaited trophy. Lara's assumption: India can hope for a win against Australia but winning with a bonus point in a knockout match against the full-strength world champs is akin to asking for the moon.

Understandably Lara could not put words on this aspect of his decision making and utter those in a press conference. There's no way a skipper would want Australia to know of the esteem that his team reserves for them nor would he like a wounded Indian team to treat the final as a prestige fight if they reach that far.

It was never going to be an all-win experiment though. The shocking result of that strange batting order jumble means Lara and his top order mates will be saddled with deep worries about middle order fragility in the final match. Come Sunday and we will know if Lara had called correctly during yesterday's lunch break or he was indeed foolish and took too much upon himself as captain and player by making a facile win difficult for a team that was only just getting used to winning.

While we continue to get confounded by skipper Lara's mind and its strange functioning, Tim de Lisle gets bamboozled by some other minds.

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