Sunday, March 11, 2007

Don't lose faith, Lara urges Rastafarians

RELAWNY, Jamaica
Brian Lara has urged West Indies supporters not to losefaith, promising to turn things around in the World Cup after the hosts wereembarrassed by a batting collapse in Friday's warmup match against India.WestIndies will take on Pakistan in Tuesday's World Cup opener in Jamaica's capitalof Kingston, just four days after a nine-wicket defeat against India in a warmupgame.West Indies was bundled out for 85 after India's pace bowlers piercedthrough the middle-order, prompting Lara to demand more commitment from hisplayers."This collapse was devastating, but I'm hopeful of getting out of thislow point," said Lara.This will be Lara's fifth and last World Cup campaignafter starting in 1992, when the event was jointly hosted by Australia and NewZealand.Two-time world champion West Indies has made just one semifinalappearance during Lara's previous four World Cups. He is eager to turn the clockback to the 70s when the West Indies emerged as the champion side in 1975 and'79.This time the Caribbean lineup is confronted by a historical jinx _ no teamhas won the World Cup on its home soil.Sri Lanka's title triumph came in 1996when it was the three subcontinental teams staging World Cup matches, but thefew games played in Sri Lanka were preliminary-round matches. It played thequarterfinal and final in Pakistan, and the semifinal in India."The West Indiesfans will come out in large numbers to support us, we have to live up to theirexpectations," Lara said. "Everyone starts from scratch on Tuesday."The WorldCup hasn't started yet. It's better that such performances happen before thetournament than during it."Although this will be his last World Cup appearance,Lara asserted he would continue to play test matches for West Indies."A stagehas come when the West Indies one-day team can do without players like me, but Ifeel I still can make a contribution in test cricket," he said.Knowing they'llsoon have to play without him, Lara has challenged his young teammates toflourish in pressure situations."The team must not be dependent on a fewexperienced players to provide the momentum in every game," he said. "The seniorplayers can't always succeed, the youngsters need to take more responsibility."We don't seem to soak in the pressure well."He said the current team couldchallenge any opposition if the momentum was going its way."What is importantis to emerge strong from pressure situations," Lara said.

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