Desperate West Indies hunt win
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (CMC):
Captain Jason Holder was under no illusions yesterday about what West Indies needed to do in order to qualify for the final of the Tri-Nations Series.
Ahead of their two final preliminary games, the hosts are bottom of the three-team tournament on eight points, four adrift of leaders South Africa and three behind World champions Australia.
"That's exactly what it is: two matches, two wins. It's about being consistent and making the improvements," Holder told reporters ahead of today's all-important contest against Australia at Kensington Oval.
"If you look through the series, you've got Sunil (Narine) with a five-wicket haul and we haven't gotten a hundred yet in the series, so that's one of the boxes we need to tick off.
"It would be good to see one of the top four batsmen get a hundred and not only a hundred but a big hundred in a match-winning cause. If we can get that, that would be a definite sign of improvement."
He added: "(We need to) take it one game at a time. We have Australia first to contend with. If we beat them, they're basically out of the competition, so we'll just look to deal with Australia first and then to South Africa afterwards."
Heading into the Barbados final leg, all three teams have won twice and lost twice, but the Proteas sit top of the standings after securing bonus points on offer.
Sunday's rained out game saw South Africa secure a further two points, which virtually put them in Sunday's final, but it left Australia definitely needing to win against West Indies in their final game to make sure of their place in the championship game.
As has been the case in recent years, West Indies have lurched from excellent to mediocre over the first two legs of the tournament and Holder said this was a problem they urgently needed to correct.
"We have to be consistent. We've always been crucified for not being consistent in the past, and that's something we really stress in the dressing room," the 24-year-old noted.
"We've gotten great improvement in terms of the individual stats. I just think it is important we look for small improvements and gradually look to build up and move up the rankings."
He added: "We need one of our top four batsmen to bat as deep as possible into the innings. We've been able to get partnerships ... to get ourselves to a par-total of anywhere around 260, in the Caribbean, is a good total."
West Indies will key an anxious watch on the weather, however. Rain allowed just one over in Sunday's game and more rain is forecast for the week as a tropical wave continues to affect the island.
"We'll see what happens. There's been quite a bit of rain around," Holder said. "Yesterday (Sunday) I think the pitch got wet and I think we're going on the same strip again so we'll see what happens in the morning and hopefully it is a good strip for cricket.
The only change to the squad for the remaining matches is the omission of fast bowler Jerome Taylor, leaving either speedster Shannon Gabriel or off-spinner Ashley Nurse likely to make their one-day international debut.
WEST INDIES SQUAD:
Jason Holder (captain), Johnson Charles, Andre Fletcher, Marlon Samuels, Darren Bravo, Denesh Ramdin, Kieron Pollard, Jonathan Carter, Carlos Brathwaite, Sunil Narine, Sulieman Benn, Shannon Gabriel, Ashley Nurse.