COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (CMC):
Regional team in do-or-die clash against Ireland
West Indies captain Darren Sammy has conceded that his team must improve on their bowling in the decisive ICC World Twenty20 Group B tournament match against Ireland today.
First ball is 7:30 p.m. (10 a.m. Eastern Caribbean time/9 a.m. Jamaica time).
West Indies lost by nine wickets on the Duckworth-Lewis method to group winners Australia on Saturday, as the Australians blasted 100 for one off only 9.1 overs when rain intervened, in pursuit of 192 to win.
Sammy said it was unfortunate, however, rain had been a crucial factor in outcome.
"I think rain played its part, otherwise it would have been a cracker of a game. The build-up was very exciting and I think both teams did deliver, but it was unfortunate that rain came when it did. We thought we were still in it. They still needed nine an over and they had to keep going," Sammy asserted.
"It's unfortunate that weather played a part, but that's something we have to get over. We are now looking forward to the next game against Ireland.
"We back ourselves to set targets and I think we did that. We back ourselves to set targets and defend them. It's good we achieved our first target with the bat, put lots of runs on the board. We came here to win the World Cup and that is still the plan. We lost here in the rain tonight (Saturday), but that will not put a damper on our plans. We need to win against Ireland and make sure we qualify for the Super Eights and take it from there."
Hope for full game
Ireland know that with unsettled weather around, Duckworth Lewis could again come into play and that all manner of eventualities might even up the contest. It is a thought that does not find too much favour with Sammy.
"I think the crowd wants a 20-over match," he said. "So, hopefully, the weather stays good and we get a full game."
A no-decision will mean that West Indies advance on a higher net-run rate.
In the meantime, a number of Ireland players fell ill ahead of the game.
The Irish, who lost by seven wickets to Australia, are hopeful that all those affected by the stomach bug will be available for today's game.
"It's happened to me before and you have to find an inner resolve - (coach) Phil (Simmons) will be stressing that," said batsman Niall O'Brien.
"There will be a lot of adrenaline and I hope it will overcome any illness."
Ireland's poor start against the Australians proved costly and skipper William Porterfield is determined to avoid a repeat in Colombo.
"The first six overs with bat and ball are going to be crucial," said the opener.
"If we can restrict their runs and then make a good start with the bat, then we have a good chance.
"They have destructive batters like Chris Gayle, but they can also make mistakes, and we have to put the ball in the right place."
Teams running scared
Trent Johnston, the Ireland bowler who has been at the heart of many of their greatest performances, has marked what could be his farewell match in a major tournament by condemning the reluctance of Bangladesh and Zimbabwe to play them and put at risk their international status.
Ireland's cause to reach the Super Eights has not been helped by the sickness that has been raging through the squad. Ed Joyce was the first player to suffer from a gastric illness, which has since laid low half a dozen players and members of the coaching staff.
Johnston was one of those who did make the final training session, but he was in a far from conciliatory mood, resentful over perpetual references to Ireland as 'minnows' and the barriers that he believes exist to limit Ireland's chances of joining the game's elite.
"Why don't Bangladesh and Zimbabwe want to play us?" he asked. "I know why, because they're scared that we'll beat them and that we'll go above them in the rankings. I know that for a fact.
"And the other guys simply can't play us because they've got programmes left, right and centre and IPL, BPL and Big Bash, blah, blah, blah. So I can understand that the big boys play too much cricket and that they ask how they can squeeze a series in with Ireland. But something has got to be done because we don't want to be at this 'minnow' level as well, which is what the commentators call us.
"We're associate cricketers and we're aware of that, we're not 'minnows'. I'm sick of hearing 'minnow' on the TV. It's disrespectful to the guys that are here training and putting the work in and it's disrespectful to the people back in Ireland and back in Afghanistan and the others in the associate levels who put so much time and effort into cricket.
"Bangladesh and Zimbabwe aren't 'minnows' either. They're full member countries and they've been called 'minnows' in this World Cup and, personally, I'm just sick and tired of it."
O'Brien looked around Ireland's depleted numbers at practice at the P Sara Stadium and admitted:
"It's not ideal, but from a personal point of view, I have been sick before and you sometimes find new resolve. It's a Twenty20 and there will be a lot of adrenaline, so, hopefully, that will overcome any illness in the camp."