World Cup Cricket 2007 - West Indies

World Cup Diary

Day 12: 24th of March

Another early Super 8s match was played out today as two of the tournament favourites, Australia and South Africa battled for supremacy in group A. The Aussies were put in to bat and promptly took advantage of the quality pitch, with the opening partnership reaching 100. Ponting and Clarke followed with big scores themselves and a massive 377 was posted for the South Africans to chase.

They certainly got off to a good start with an opening partnership of 160 before de Villiers was run out for 92 off 70 deliveries. However, it was the middle order and the tail which let the Springboks down. With Boucher the only one of the last 7 batsmen to make it to double figures, they collapsed to 294 and ceded the group to the Australians.

Meanwhile, Kenya were hoping for a spot of giant-killing against a faltering England side which welcomed back the prodigal Flintoff after his suspension for small hours boating. The Kenyans won the toss, elected to bat and could only manage 177 off their innings with only the sparkling Tikolo making it past 20. In reply, England eased to their target in a thoroughly professional manner with Joyce justifying his selection with a confident 75. Kenya are out, England progress, but not in a commanding fashion.

Day 11: 23nd of March

Today we learned that the police in Jamaica are now treating the death of Bob Woolmer as murder. A second pathologist's report has determined that Bob died from asphyxiation due to manual strangulation. This news has shocked the entire cricketing world and we are all trying to understand how such a thing could happen. The ICC have determined that the tournament will continue, and many have cited the Munich Olympics as a prior case in point. The difference here is that the establishment cannot quite shake off the possibility that Bob's death is now in some way connected with illegal gambling and match fixing - possibly as an attempt to silence a whistleblower. As the games go on, this tragic event is now overshadowing what should have been an enjoyable specatacle of sport for everyone.

India are in trouble. Having lost to Bangladesh already, they really needed to beat Sri Lanka today in order to have a decent chance of qualification, but they never seemed to get out of second gear. They put Sri Lanka in to bat and seemed to have control when they dismissed the danger men Jayasuriya and Jayawardene for a combined total of 13 runs. But the Sri Lankans showed what depth they have, rebounding to 254 for 6. This target always looked beyond India, with only Sehwag and Dravid getting past 20. The resulting defeat leaves India praying for a major upset in the final group B match while Sri Lanka go through as group winners with a 100% record.

The group D clash between Ireland and the West Indies took on more significance since both teams knew that they had already qualified. However, with the structure of the competition, the result between these two teams today would count towards the final standings in the Super 8s, so this was essentially treated as an early Super 8s match for both sides.

Ireland won the toss and showed their confidence by electing to bat first. In a rain-affected first innings, despite losing Porterfield for a duck, they managed 183 off their reduced allocation of 48 overs against the home side. But it was in this match that Chanderpaul decided to show the prowess of which we all know he is capable scoring a masterful 102 not out off 113 balls. This solid knock was enough to steer the West Indies to victory and a valuable 2 points with which to start the next phase. The Irish, by contrast are just happy to be through.

Day 10: 22nd of March

Today saw a wooden spoon decider between Scotland and Holland which was only ever going to be for pride. Scotland's innings was steady and measured, but with none of their batsmen making 30, they were always going to be in trouble. Indeed, the Netherlands batsmen were able to reach the required total for the loss of just two wickets (both by Blain) and so they, at least, can take something tangible from this competition.

In St. Lucia, however, Canada put up a sterner fight against the fancied New Zealanders. Chasing a very unlikely 364, the Canadians lasted out until the final over, attaining a highly creditable 249 and had it not been for a mini collapse (losing 3 wickets for just 6 runs) in the middle order they might have mounted an even closer challenge.

Day 9: 21st of March

In a day of high emotion, a determined Pakistan team took on a hopeful Zimbabwe with an opportunity to honour their late coach with a victory. It would not be enough to let them progress to the next phase of the tournament, but that hardly matters in the very human tragedy of the last few days. For Zimbabwe's part, they could still upset the Irish party with a win to give themselves a chance of qualification.

Zimbabwe elected to field, and their opponents lost no time in taking the fight to them. Despite the relatively early loss of Akmal, Pakistan made fast progress, with Nazir anchoring the innings with a resounding 160 off only 121 balls. After this fine demonstration with the bat, which left Zimbabwe chasing an unlikely 350, Pakistan's bowlers were then given the chance to show what they could do. Gul and Afridi stood out, but everyone bowled well to dismiss the Africans for a paltry 99, thus ending their challenge in the competition. Inzamam was applauded off the field after his last innings for his nation.

There was a similar pattern to the match in group B with Sri Lanka streaking away to 318 off their 50 overs for the loss of just 4 wickets. Bangladesh could not repeat their heroics of a few days ago and crumbled in reply to just 112.

Day 8: 20th of March

Having been comprehensively beaten by Australia, Scotland needed something special against South Africa if they were to keep alive their slim hopes of qualification to the super 8s. However, their total of 186 looked to be easily obtainable on a good pitch and in the end the South Africans made short work of it, reaching the target in under half the available overs.

Kenya had a similarly tough challenge against the buoyant New Zealanders who continued where they left off against England by knocking up 331 off their innings. This was always going to be a very difficult task for Kenya to match and in the end they only managed 183. This result was enough to see the Kiwis through to the next round, barring miracles from Canada.

Day 7: 19th of March

Today we saw the highest score of the competition so far when India scored 413 against Bermuda to win by 257 runs. This victory was sorely needed after their previous loss to Bangladesh, and the Indians showed just what a formidable force they can be with the bat once they get going.

Meanwhile, in Jamaica, Zimbabwe were narrowly beaten by the home team with 13 balls to spare. Again, no single player dominated the West Indies innings - a sign of weakness or strength in depth? Only time will tell.

Day 6: 18th of March

The cricket world was saddened this morning to learn of the death of Bob Woolmer, the Pakistan coach. He was found dead in his hotel room today. Tributes have already been paid elsewhere to this great coach, much-admired man and fantastic ambassador for the game which he loved. Our thoughts are with his family.

The cricket continued, with a minute's silence being observed before the matches today. It is fair to say that Australia were not troubled by a Netherlands side who are not without talent themselves. Their 229 run victory could be seen as a statement of intent.

In St. Lucia, it was England who were to prevail in a closer contest. They batted first and with Joyce putting his first match disappointment behind him, notched up 279 in their 50 overs. Canada could not match this, despite putting in a brave effort and were only 51 runs adrift by the close of play.

Day 5: 17th of March

Happy St. Patrick's day! Despite a heroic effort, the Irish narrowly lost the Six Nations to France, which created an air of despondency. The Triple Crown may be seen as consolation enough, however a victory in the cricket against a test-playing side would surely more than raise the spirits.

Ireland won the toss and put Pakistan in to bat. Hafeez and Khan went cheaply and this seemed to rattle the rest of the Pakistani team to such an extent that not even the senior players could provide a steadying influence on the innings. Not one batsman made it to 30, leaving Extras top-scoring with 29.

With a highly feasible target of 133, Ireland set about it with gusto. Even the horrendous decision to give Botha out caught behind when the ball came nowhere near him could not daunt them. Just when it was starting to look like a parade, the rain came down. It did not last long, however, and a revised target of 128 off 47 overs was posted. Despite a late mini-collapse the Irish had no trouble reaching it, with Johnston scoring the winning runs by pasting a huge 6 into the crowds. While this was the trigger for great celebration among the fans in green, the Pakistan camp were utterly dejected - this result sealed their elimination from the tournament.

The other match today was almost as good, with the under-rated Bangladesh coming good against the might of India. India's score of 191 did not look beyond the Bangladeshis and they made the most of the opportunity reaching their target with 9 balls to spare and scoring three half-centuries in the process. This result now leaves India sweating on the results of other matches to allow them to proceed to the super 8s.

Day 4: 16th of March

Another day, another record. Herschelle Gibbs has managed to score only the third maximum over of six sixes in first-class cricket history, and the first such occurrence in a world cup. The unlucky bowler was Holland's Daan van Bunge and this was symptomatic of the entire match in which the Dutch were completely outclassed by their opponents. Other records included the fastest World Cup 50 (Mark Boucher) and the team record for most sixes in an innings in a one day international (18). All of these fireworks happened despite the match being reduced to 40 overs per innings due to rain. The Dutch must be thankful for small mercies.

In contrast England's opening clash against New Zealand was billed as the decider in Group C and it did turn out to be a much closer affair. The English (KP aside) stuttered their way towards 150 until Paul Nixon stepped up to halt the collapse, eventually posting a respectable target of 209. The Kiwis made short work of this, however, finishing with 6 wickets and 9 overs to spare. It's hard to see New Zealand failing to make the Super 8s on this performance.

Day 3: 15th of March

It's only the third day of the tournament and already we have a candidate for best match of the group phase, if not the entire competition. It didn't look like there would be such a close finish when Ireland lost opening batsman Porterfield without a run on the board. However, his partner Bray gathered himself and saw the Irish through to a very respectable 221/9, carrying his bat in the process. It was a little surprising that Chigumbura, the most effective of the bowlers was only given 6 overs - perhaps Zimbabwe thought their batsmen would reach the target easily.

And so it looked as they progressed solidly through their own innings, losing a few wickets along the way but without much sign of a collapse. Needing just 15 off the last 6 overs, and with 4 wickets remaining, victory seemed assured. But that is always the most difficult time, and Zimbabwe promptly self-destructed. They started playing at deliveries which should never have been touched, made confused calls resulting in run-outs, and even with the odd dropped catch, it was not long until another presented itself. Thus, at the final delivery, with the scores level, Matsikenyeri completely missed the yorker and Rainsford was run out by the keeper as he gamely tried to snatch the single required. A fantastic climax to an enthralling match.

Unfortunately the same could not be said of today's other match between Sri Lanka and Bermuda which was as one-sided on the field as it looked on paper. A 243 run victory (the second highest in World Cup history) was secured after Sri Lanka posted a very respectable 321/6 and the Bermudans could offer nothing by way of a batting attack. With only two of their side reaching double figures, they crashed to 78 all out without reaching 25 overs. They will have to make a serious improvement if they are to take anything out of this championship.

Day 2: 14th of March

Two matches today (as there will be for the remainder of the group phase) so we were kept busy with the first matches in each of groups A and C. The Scots, having won the toss, put the Australians in to bat and fared reasonably well for the first part of the innings. Once Ponting got himself in, however, the tide started to turn. Although they did manage to limit the dangerous Clarke and Hussey to just a handful of runs each, the Australian lower order rather put the Scottish attack to the sword in the final ten overs.

In reply, Scotland could offer very little, with only Smith making it beyond 20 (to a very creditable 51 off 76 balls). To add insult to injury, quite literally, Blain was unable to take to the crease and so the Scottish innings finished on 131 for 9, more than 200 behind their antipodean opponents.

In what promised to be a much closer affair, Canada were put in to bat by Kenya and progressed at a steady pace to 199, the final wicket falling with the last delivery of the innings. However it was not going to be enough of a target for the Kenyans to chase, and they easily wrapped up their victory with seven wickets and almost seven overs to spare.

Despite Ponting's heroics with the bat, the performance of the day must have been that of the old war-horse Glenn McGrath, taking 3 for 14 off 6 overs. If anyone doubted the old-timer's appetite for the game at this level, today's display will have surely given them pause for thought. Was the tri-nations final against England just a blip after all?

Day 1: 13th of March

Well, we're finally underway - and what a start! Sabina Park is a great venue and the short boundaries certainly provided some fireworks, especially during the home side's innings. A lively 63 off 70 balls by Samuels led the way and Lara was just getting into his stride when both were dismissed. Towards the end of the innings Pakistan looked like they might have done enough to limit the total. And just when you thought they were going to end on a whimper up stepped the unlikely last-gasp hero of Collymore to smack a mighty 6 off the very last ball.

The decision to field didn't seem such a great one once Pakistan were reduced to 39 for 3, but Yousuf and Inzy steadied the ship for a while. Ultimately it was to be in vain as once they had both been dismissed Bravo quickly mopped up the tail to assure the West Indies of an opening day victory. Plenty more to come over the next six weeks!

Flags courtesy of ITA's Flags of All Countries used with permission.