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By Shrikant Shankar
West Indies had a miserable time in 2013. The highlight of 2012 was their memorable triumph at the ICC World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka. West Indies were supposed to kick on and improve as a side in both One-Day Internationals (ODIs) and Tests in 2013. But somehow it has not happened. There were hardly any great tales to tell in 2013 for the West Indies. Some key players have not done as much as they can, but a few provided hope for a better future.
The year 2013 began with an embarrassing 0-5 loss in a five-match ODI series against Australia Down Under. They won the sole T20 match, but that cannot be considered as a consolation. They swept away an inexperienced Zimbabwe side 3-0 in a three-match ODI series and 2-0 in a two-match T20I series in the Caribbean. They then beat them 2-0 in a two-match Test series. Zimbabwe are a side that has been deprived of international cricket for a long time and West Indies’ victory cannot be considered a mark of their improvement.
Then came the biggest test of the year — the ICC Champions Trophy 2013 in England. The last time the event was held in England in 2004, West Indies surprised everyone by winning the tournament. They now had a new captain at the helm in Dwayne Bravo. So, there was a lot of optimism about their chances. They started out with a tense win over Pakistan at The Oval. Then they were outplayed by the eventual champions India at the same venue. West Indies needed to win their final group match against South Africa, but the match ended in a tie and they were knocked out.
West Indies soon hosted India and Sri Lanka in an ODI tri-series at home. They began with two impressive victories against Sri Lanka and India. They seemed destined to make it to the final, but lost their remaining round-robin matches and did not make it through. This was certainly disappointing as they did not make it to the final in their home conditions. Then they hosted Pakistan in a five-match ODI series and a two-match T20I series.
West Indies lost the ODI series 1-3 and the T20I series 0-2. This was a big blow as they were seen as the favourites in the T20 formats. Pakistan themselves were not in a great run of form before or after the Caribbean tour, so West Indies’ losses was even more hard to take for their supporters. Then came a series which will go down in history. It was Sachin Tendulkar’s final Test series as he announced his retirement. The West Indies players said they were honoured to be part of the series in India.
West Indies were outplayed and lost by an innings in both Tests. Tendulkar’s 200th and final Test at Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai and the euphoria surrounding it eclipsed the huge losses West Indies suffered. They then lost a three-match ODI series 1-2. Their year ended with a tour to New Zealand. The first Test was drawn, but West Indies suffered severe batting collapses to lose the next two Tests. Their last match in 2013 was an ODI at Auckland, which they won to end their year on a relative high.
Chris Gayle, Dwayne Bravo, Darren Sammy and Marlon Samuels did not really make the West Indies tick in 2013. Jason Holder, Darren Bravo, Ravi Rampaul and Johnson Charles gave some hope for the West Indies going into the future. Then there is the indomitable Shivnarine Chanderpaul, who refuses to age and is close to beat Brian Lara’s record of Test runs. Overall, West Indies had a poor 2013 and were on the losing side majority of the times. They have the defence of their T20 crown coming up in Bangladesh in March 2014. So, they need to pick themselves up and be ready for a tough challenge.
(Shrikant Shankar is a writer/reporter at CricketCountry.com. Previously he has done audio commentary for various matches involving India, Indian Premier League and Champions League Twenty20 for ESPNSTAR.com. You can follow him on Twitter @Shrikant_23)
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