Confident Windies aiming to corner glory

Published: Friday, September 24, 2004, 23:53 [IST]
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London:Having defied all predictions, West Indies will seek to clinch their first major title in over two decades when they take on an equally determined England in the final of the ICC Champions Trophy here tomorrow.

Not many had expected the Carribeans to make it to the final but the team is on a high after their thumpings wins over superior opponents and will hope to get the momentum going in the summit clash.

The former World Champions, who have not won any major event since 1979 and had even failed to make it to the summit clash of this championships since 1998, defeated South Africa and Pakistan in the earlier rounds and will be hoping that captain Brian Lara will be fully fit before they clash with the hosts who are in top form themselves.

Lara was hit on the neck by a Shoiab Akhtar bouncer in the semi-finals against Pakistan but the team management expects him to be fit enough to lead the team at the Oval tomorrow.

Though the Caribbeans had pipped England to reach the NatWest Series final earlier this year, they do not have happy memories of their summer here as they were blanked 4-0 in the Test series by the hosts just last month.

But West Indies vice captain Ramnaresh Sarwan has already started playing the mind game, saying they will have the psycological advantage due to better performance in the one-dayers. On the other hand, England would be keen to cap off their brilliant summer with their first ever victory in a major tournament. They has made it to three World Cup finals so far but have never won any.

But they are in fine form here and if the comprehensive win over World Champions Australia in the semifinals is any reckoner they surely have enough firepower to overwhelm the West Indian juggernaut.

However, they will surely know that playing West Indies in one-dayers was a far more threatning preposition as compared to the Tests and would be gunning for revenge. Lara, whose captaincy is hanging by the thread, suddenly senses an opportunity and knows a victory tomorrow would act as a fresh lease of life for him as a captain.

"It's been a very long summer and we suffered a lot during the Test series against England. We will like to go on a high. We have had a distressing time with the hurricane in the West Indies and we have had a lot of emails and people calling to say how satisfied they are with the results," Lara said.

"You have some smiling faces in Grenada and Jamaica and that is uppermost in our minds," he said."

Their strength obviously is their strong batting but they have cleverly chosen a bowling combination which relies equally on experience as it does on talent. Batsman like Chris Gayle and Wavell Hinds, Ramnaresh Sarwan and Brian Lara, Shivnaraine Chanderpaul and Ricardo Powell on form can challenge any one-day batting line-up and tear any attack to pieces.

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