BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, CMC – Back-to-back defeats to England last weekend have left West Indies facing a second straight series whitewash, a fate they will earnestly attempt to avoid when they contest the final One-Day International at Kensington Oval here Thursday.
The Caribbean side slumped to a 45-run loss in the opening game at the Vivian Richards Cricket Stadium last Thursday and two days later, lost by four wickets in the second encounter at the same venue.
But even though the three-match series has already been decided, captain Jason Holder urged his side to stay focused on securing a victory especially with West Indies urgently needing to bolster their ranking in order to earn automatic qualification for the 2019 Cricket World Cup.
“A win here obviously would be very valuable. Pakistan is ahead of us [in the one-day rankings] as well so we just need to pick up points there,” Holder told reporters here Wednesday.
“We haven’t worked it out mathematically but we know the importance of every game especially playing a side that is higher ranked than us. We’ve got England now, Pakistan afterward, then we have India later down in the year and then we also have one-dayers in England.
“Those are all teams that are ranked higher than us. The magnitude of the situation is for us to win these games against higher ranked sides and I think once we do that, we’ll definitely qualify for the World Cup.”
In both previous games, West Indies found themselves with chances to turn the results their way, but lacked the killer instinct.
Chasing 297 in the opener, they were 190 for four in the 39th over but threw away their last six wickets for 61 runs, to surrender meekly.
Then, in last Sunday’s encounter, England plunged to 124 for six at the half-way stage in pursuit of 226 but West Indies proved sloppy in the field, and Joe Root (90 not out) and Chris Woakes (68 not out) capitalized, engineering an unbroken stand of 102 for the seventh wicket to frustrate the hosts.
Holder said despite the two disappointing performances, the Windies had remained upbeat and were optimistic about turning their fortunes around.
“The guys are in good spirits. Everybody wants to make their mark here. Obviously we’ve had two games and we’ve had some individual brilliance from players like Jason Mohammed and Jonathan Carter, Shannon’s (Gabriel) been pretty good – (Devendra) Bishoo and Ashley (Nurse) as well,” Holder pointed out.
“I don’t think the spirits are daunted in the dressing room; I think everybody’s heads are held high. I just try to keep everyone in good spirits and everybody is in good spirits. We have a good vibe on and off the field. It’s just a situation for us to execute.
“We’ve also let ourselves down in the field in terms of dropping catches and being a bit sloppy in the field so that’s obviously an area we have paid some attention to, and I think once we hold those half chances, games can be a lot different for us.”
Last October, West Indies were swept by Pakistan in a similar three-match series in United Arab Emirates. The following month, they struggled in Zimbabwe during the Tri-Nations Series involving the hosts and Sri Lanka, missing out on the final after winning just one of four games.
Holder said across both the batting and bowling departments, there was obviously a need for more consistency from his players.
“I’ve preached in the dressing room we need consistency. The only way you can be consistent is if you get an opportunity to play …” he explained.
“I just think it is important that we do a lot better at the top of our innings when we bat. We haven’t really gotten a good start in this tournament as yet.
“I thought the bowling in the last game was a lot better than the first game. We got down to the last 10 overs and did a lot better and that’s all due down to the context of the game but I thought we fought really hard and had attacking options in the last game, we set attacking fields and we got wickets so for me we may just need to string that collective game together and take it all the way.”
West Indies have brought fast bowler Miguel Cummins into the 13-man squad as a replacement for injured speedster Shannon Gabriel.
WEST INDIES – Jason Holder (captain), Devendra Bishoo, Carlos Brathwaite, Kraigg Brathwaite, Jonathan Carter, Miguel Cummins, Shai Hope (wkp), Alzarri Joseph, Evin Lewis, Jason Mohammed, Ashley Nurse, Kieran Powell, Rovman Powell.
ENGLAND – Eoin Morgan (captain), Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow, Sam Billings, Jos Buttler (wkp), Tom Curran, Liam Dawson, Steven Finn, Alex Hales, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, Chris Woakes.