Windies ready for Aussie challenge – Holder
NOTTINGHAM, England (CMC):
An upbeat and fully fit West Indies will face a stern test in pursuit of their World Cup dream when they take on reigning World champions Australia in a hotly anticipated contest at Trent Bridge today.
After entering the tournament as rank outsiders, West Indies have seen their odds increase quickly, especially after they amassed a mammoth 421 against New Zealand in their last official warm-up match in Bristol and then crushed Pakistan by seven wickets in their tournament opener here six days ago.
However, Australia are expected to provide their toughest opposition yet, and the fact that veteran batsman Chris Gayle and explosive all-rounder Andre Russell have both been passed fit for the encounter after picking up niggles against Pakistan has provided a massive boost for the Caribbean side.
Despite the long history of rivalry between the two teams, captain Jason Holder downplayed the meeting, stressing, they would treat the encounter just like any other.
“It’s always been a great rivalry between West Indies and Australia. I think everybody is expecting a really good contest,” Holder told media here.
Up for the challenge
“We’re up for the challenge. I think they’re up for the challenge as well. I wouldn’t really get too deep into rivalries, but we expect a really good contest from the Australians.”
He continued: “We’re just taking it game by game. Tomorrow is our country versus Australia. We’ve got a hurdle to overcome. I think when we overcome that hurdle, then we’ll move deeper into the tournament.
“But I just don’t want to single out teams particularly. I think all teams are evenly matched and well balanced, so it’s just a matter of playing good cricket on any given day.
“That’s our rule. We want to execute in all three departments.”
Ever since their performance against the Black Caps, pundits have been raving about the West Indies’ powerful batting line-up. And with Gayle and Russell fit, Australia can expect to face all the firepower the Windies have to offer.
Classy right-hander Shai Hope, with two hundreds and two half-centuries in his last six One-Day Internationals, will line up alongside the likes of opener Evin Lewis, Nicholas Pooran, Shimron Hetmyer, and Carlos Brathwaite, presenting a formidable batting order against any opposition.
Trent Bridge has been notorious for large totals in recent times. Pakistan piled up 348 against England there two days ago to beat the hosts by 14 runs, and three weeks ago, England chased down 340 to topple the same Pakistan.
Most notably, last year June, England piled up a mammoth 481 as they crushed Australia by 242 runs.
Holder said that having played their opening game of the tournament at the venue gave the Windies an excellent gauge of what to expect.