Windies stay in contention for semis, insists Holder as in-form Kiwis loom - GulfToday

Windies stay in contention for semis, insists Holder as in-form Kiwis loom

West Indies hopeful for semis

Chris Gayle, one of the Windies’ batting pillars, hasn’t clicked in the tournament so far.

Manchester: Jason Holder on Friday claimed his struggling West Indies are still in the hunt to qualify for the World Cup semi-finals ahead of their game against unbeaten New Zealand in Manchester.

Holder will be without injured all-rounder Andre Russell on Saturday, but the West Indies skipper is adamant his team shouldn’t be counted out yet.

West Indies started the tournament by beating Pakistan in their opener but soon lost momentum with defeats to Australia, England and Bangladesh.

Another loss would effectively end their last four hopes, but Holder says it is just a matter of bringing their best game to the table against the Black Caps, a side who they out-played in a pre-tournament warm up last month.

“I think we still have a possible chance to qualify for the semi-finals, but we’ve just got to take it game by game,” Holder told reporters at Old Trafford.

“This encounter with New Zealand is very important. We all know what’s at stake and we just have to come and bring our ‘A’ game. It’s as simple as that.”

On Russell’s fitness, Holder said he is definitely out of the weekend clash, but the rest of the squad in available for selection.

Russell, 31, has been struggling with a chronic knee injury for the last five years.

Holder said the team, which skipped practice on Friday but went through a bonding excercise, have tried to talk among themselves in a bid to get their act together.

“We’ve had a few frank discussions within the dressing room to find ways in which we can improve on. I think all teams would get themselves in that situation at some point,” Holder said.

“But, yeah, we’ve had some pretty good discussions over the last couple of days. And tomorrow is just a day to deliver.”

The West Indies are currently lying seventh in the 10-team standings with just three points in their bag. A defeat against New Zealand, who are the only team besides India to have remained unbeaten so far, would all but end their hopes for a semi-final berth.

New Zealand meanwhile have been in great shape, sitting pretty at second spot with nine points, which includes four wins out of five games with the match against India being washed out.

The Kiwis, led by the brilliant Kane Williamson, have so far beaten Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and South Africa.

But Williamson and Co. will know their real test starts now. While they will start favourites against West Indies, they will have three tough encounters against Pakistan, Australia and England.

With their hopes of reaching the semi-finals fading fast, Lloyd, the captain of the West Indies side that won the World Cup in 1975 and 1979, believes his country should take a leaf out of Williamson’s “masterful” knock.

“The West Indies need to raise their game if they are to have a chance against New Zealand at Old Trafford on Saturday,” Lloyd wrote in his column for the International Cricket Council.

“In Kane Williamson, the Black Caps have a terrific captain and an even more impressive batsman. “His innings to knock off South Africa was absolutely masterful, one of the finest I have ever seen in an ODI game. He is a fantastic reader of the game and knows how to adapt to what is going on around him.

“The West Indies would benefit from learning a thing or two from Williamson.”

Agencies

Teams (from):

New Zealand: Kane Williamson (Captain), Tom Blundell, Trent Boult, Colin de Grandhomme, Lockie Ferguson, Martin Guptill, Matt Henry, Tom Latham, Colin Munro, James Neesham, Henry Nicholls, Mitchell Santner, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee.

West Indies: Jason Holder (Captain), Fabian Allen, Carlos Brathwaite, Darren Bravo, Sheldon Cottrell, Shannon Gabriel, Chris Gayle, Shimron Hetmyer, Shai Hope, Evin Lewis, Ashley Nurse, Nicholas Pooran, Kemar Roach, Andre Russell, Oshane Thomas.