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A spirited performance

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ALL PUMPED UP: Chris Gayle (left), usually one who keeps his emotions in check, let himself go in the match against Australia, especially targeting Michael Clarke.
ALL PUMPED UP: Chris Gayle (left), usually one who keeps his emotions in check, let himself go in the match against Australia, especially targeting Michael Clarke.

It was good to see Chris Gayle dropping his `cool dude' façade and reacting emotionally, writes Vivian Richards

It was wonderful to see the West Indians start the group stage of the Champions Trophy like defending champions. It was a spirited and passionate performance, and one that gives me plenty of hope as they come up against India on Thursday.

Runako Morton has always been a magnificent prospect for the team, but he had some problems focusing on the game in the past. He seems to have got past that problem and I hope the team gives him a longer run in the side. He has often been unable to rotate the strike, but if he is confident of his place in the side, he has the talent to overcome these problems.

I was also proud to see how wonderfully Brian Lara strategised and played in this game. He was smart to hold himself back, and that went a long way in negating the spinners. More importantly, he was a great example for Morton, and the latter gained confidence from his captain.

Obvious passion

The fielding effort was also quite magnificent. I was happy to see Chris Gayle who always seems to keep his emotions in the cupboard, play with such obvious passion. True, he got slapped with a fine for grooving at the top of his run-up and chatting up Michael Clarke, but it was good to see him drop his `cool dude' façade and reacting emotionally.

Similarly, Ramnaresh Sarwan has not been among the runs of late but I hope the way he led the side on the field and kept his nerve will instil some confidence in him ahead of Thursday's game. Finally, I feel proud that Jerome Taylor, a youngster who made his debut when I was chairman, selectors, has proved himself worthy of the faith we reposed in him. He was considered too young for international cricket, but talent is not a slave to age, and I am glad that he is showcasing his potential.

He is a natural athlete with a relaxed bowling action, so I hope he can avoid the injuries that have plagued so many of his predecessors and contemporaries.

Breathing space

The Indians, on the other hand, will be keen to win because that will give them some breathing space against the Australians in their last group game. This is the tougher group in the tournament and there is a strong likelihood that three teams will end with two wins each. I am sure the statisticians of all three teams will be working overtime to ensure that they know what the net run rate situation is.

The Indians would also be keen to avenge the one-day series loss they suffered in the West Indies. They would like to use home conditions and crowd support to set the record straight. Players like Rahul Dravid and Yuvraj Singh are due for a big score, so the West Indians will have to bowl really well to restrict them.

India's bowlers are in very good form too, and I am sure Sachin Tendulkar, who was absent from that West Indian tour, will have a couple of things to prove. I am told he likes playing at this venue and has scored heaps of runs in Ahmedabad, so I would watch out for him on Thursday.

Gameplan

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