BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (CMC):
West Indies captain Jason Holder has urged his side to produce an improved all-round performance as they prepare to face South Africa in a do-or-die contest here today, that will determine their fate in the Tri-Nations Series.
West Indies' form has been patchy throughout the series and it has left them bottom of the standings on eight points, four behind the second-place Proteas, with World champions Australia having already qualified for Sunday's final.
Victory will assure West Indies of a berth in the final alongside the Aussies, and Holder said it was important they address the areas that led to their 139-run defeat to South Africa when the two teams last met at Warner Park last week.
"We have to go back to the last game we played them in St Kitts, and we have to be better in the first ten overs. I thought they ran away with the game in the last ten overs, so we spoke about that," the 24-year-old all-rounder said here on Thursday.
"One of the things we really stressed in the dressing room is the first 10 overs and then finishing off in the last 10 overs. Those are pretty much the business areas of the bowling department, where games are probably won or lost.
"[You] set up in the first 10 and then close out in the last 10 so we just have to be better there."
South Africa piled up 343 for four in the last game, with Hashim smashing 110 in a 182-run opening stand with Quinton de Kock, who got 71.
The stand laid the foundation for the subsequent assault, which was spearheaded by Faf du Plessis and Chris Morris.
Holder said his side needed to counter this fast start and try to hinder South Africa's early momentum.
"It's a situation where we need early wickets and the middle overs pretty much take care of themselves. That's where we generally bring back the game and peg back some economical overs. My main focus is finishing off the innings well in terms of death bowling," he explained.
A heartening sign for West Indies has been the form of Marlon Samuels. The experienced right-hander struck a superb 125 in a losing cause against the Aussies last Tuesday at Kensington Oval to follow up his 92 against them in St Kitts.
But with the remainder of the batting proving inconsistent, Holder called for a big effort from his batsmen.
"We got one of the top four batsmen to get a hundred, which is what we were asking for, [and] it's about repeating it," Holder pointed out.
West Indies will have to keep their eyes on charismatic leg-spinner Imran Tahir, whose career-best seven-wicket haul in the St Kitts game flattened West Indies. Holder said they were aware of Tahir's powers.
"He's a world-class bowler. He's not only done well against West Indies, [but] he's coming off a seven-wicket haul against us in his last encounter," Holder noted.
Holder remains a doubt for the game after suffering a left hamstring strain in the last outing against Australia. His fitness will be assessed before the start of the noon (Ja time) encounter.