Ricardo Powell, a 20-year old West Indian, would carry sweet memories from his trip to Singapore this season. This strongly built hard-hitting middle order batsman has been longing to cement his place in the team after having played just two matches in the World Cup 99. He did not do much in that Cup championship. In this Singapore Challenge Cup Series he made scores of 51 and 46 against Zimbabwe and India in the league matches to give enough indication for his ambitious plans. Today, in the final against India, a heaven-sent opportunity came Powell's way and he revealed his real worth in an amazing fashion.
The West Indies, chasing a victory target of 255 in 50 overs was reduced to 67 for four in 16.3 overs. Sherwin Campbell, Ridley Jacobs, Jimmy Adams and Brian Lara were all back in the dressing room. India, after a commendable batting effort, was thus placed in a commanding position. But Powell had other ideas. Powell batted like a seasoned performer on this day. Not many newcomers would have treated this situation (67 for 4) as courageously as Powell did today.
It was a situation suited for men like Vivian Richards, Sachin Tendulkar and Steve Waugh. Powell exhibited his wares in an extraordinary manner. Powell's terrific drives in front of the wicket, flowing strokes through the off-side range and murderous pull-drives that generally cleared the playing arena, demolished the rhythm of the Indian attack. He smashed his way to his first hundred in only his fifth One Day International match off just 72 balls with seven fours and seven sixes.
Powell was the dominant partner in his 61-run stand with Shivnarine Chanderpaul (20 off 31 balls). Even at the fall of Chanderpaul's wicket (128 for 5 in 26.1) the West Indies did not look like a challenger. For the West Indian tail's vulnerability is well known. Nehemiah Perry joined Powell. Perry turned out to be a great trier. He provided his all-conquering colleague all the needed support.
He mixed caution and aggression astutely throughout this association that eventually was the match-winning one. Powell and Perry amassed 118 runs in just 19 overs and brought the score as close as 246 for six when Powell became impulsive. In an attempt to pull Mohanty out of the ground, he succeeded only in top-edging a skier to wicket keeper Rahul Dravid. His sterling knock of 124 came off 93 balls and contained nine fours and eight sixes. Perry (38 not out off 62 balls) and Henderson Bryan (6 not out) saw their side through by four wickets (47.4 overs). Powell would have loved to be there till the end.
At the prize distribution ceremony, the Singapore crowd greeted Powell like a king. He not only got the 'man of the match' award but also emerged the "man of the Series". Thus Powell, from a hopeless position, had turned a match in his side's favour with one of the ODI's most memorable performances. Powell's smashing display of the day overshadowed a classy century by India's Rahul Dravid (103 off 124 balls) and a fine all-round show by Nikhil Chopra (61 off 59 balls and the wickets of Brian Lara and Jimmy Adams to make the West Indies score reading 67 for 4).