WI face crucial game
“…We’ve beaten both teams already so we know how to beat them. We know how to win.”
That is the motivation West Indies coach Ottis Gibson has given his troops as they take the field against Sri Lanka Sunday morning in their Celkon Mobile Cup Tri-Nations Series match at Queen’s Park Oval, hoping to rebound from a resounding 102-run beating they suffered at the hands of India at that venue on Friday.
Even more crucial are the facts that all three teams now have a bonus point, and that Tuesday’s encounter between the visiting Asian teams – which will determine who goes on to the final – is out of their hands. The only way to assure themselves of a place in Thursday’s final is to beat Angelo Mathews’s men.
That is a difficult prospect, with Sri Lankan talisman and former skipper Mahela Jayawardene in good form along with fellow opener Upul Tharanga, both of whom notched centuries in their team’s mammoth 348 for one, the first time a One-Day International team has lost a solitary wicket over 50 overs.
Gibson, though, is not dwelling on one loss.
“What we’ve got to do is come out and put in the sort of performance we know we can put in (today) in front of our home fans here in Trinidad and get ourselves into the final,” Gibson told the media following a low-key training session at the match venue, which comprised just a few players.
“That’s the only thing that’s on our minds, getting ourselves in the final for Thursday’s match.”
Windies will have to do that without the services of skipper Dwayne Bravo, who was suspended for one match after a second offence of slow-over rate. The home team fell short of their target by one over, and Bravo was fined 20 per cent of his match fee, and his teammates, ten per cent each. The other such infringement occurred during the Champions Trophy.
Bravo’s fellow Trinidad and Tobago all-rounder Kieron Pollard stood in for him then, and came away with a victory over world champs and Champions Trophy winners India on his captaincy debut. Notably, Denesh Ramdin, who was vice captain in the Champions Trophy in England, and who was banned for two matches after claiming a dropped catch, has again been overlooked.
Gibson wants a repeat from Pollard.
“The last time it happened it worked well for us, Pollard did a good job (as skipper) and he was well supported by the other guys, so we expect that that will happen again tomorrow,” Gibson said.
One area of concern for the team continues to be batting in partnerships, and Gibson admitted that a lack of good partnerships early on stymied any chance of the Windies mounting a successful chase against India. But he insists his team are capable, and wants to see more “application” from his batsmen.
On opener Johnson Charles’s form with the bat, Gibson was pleased with how the hard-hitting batsman grasped the opportunity given him.
“He’s got a pretty solid preparation routine that is working for him now. We’re really pleased for him. We just need the other guys now to give him the support that he needs to keep doing what he’s doing for us.
“We know that those guys, Chris Gayle, Marlon Samuels haven’t really got going in this series yet,” Gibson added. “Darren Bravo has got some starts, but hasn’t really gone on. We know those guys are capable of doing it, we just need them to continue to believe in themselves. We know that one day when we need it most those guys will step up. They’ve done it for us before.”
Signalling their concern with the lack of production, the West Indies selectors have added opener Lendl Simmons to the squad for today’s match in Bravo’s absence.
If Sri Lanka’s batting form in the last match has done anything, it has suggested that at least one of those batsmen has to put their hands up if West Indies are to have any chance of posting a win and securing a berth in the final.
If not, they’ll play the waiting game from the stands as they watch the Asian giants square off.