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Cricket news - Struggling West Indies in desperate need to get their act together
England's loss to Sri Lanka has put the cat amongst the pigeons. It has given a number of other teams, who thought their World Cup campaigns more or less over, some hope to cling on to. Given England have India, Australia and New Zealand still to play, their position as semi-finalists is in doubt. They will still fancy their chances, of course, but the defeat at least means that there might be more riding on some of the next few matches in the tournament than there otherwise might have been.
Ahead of their match against New Zealand at Old Trafford on Saturday (June 22), West Indies are one of the teams who now have slightly more hope than they had. Jason Holder's men, despite losing three matches and being on just three points, could yet make a charge if they beat the Blackcaps and then win their remaining three matches. It's a tough ask and they are still very much outside bets to make the semi-finals but there is hope. And hope is all they can ask for after three straight defeats.
In contrast, New Zealand almost certainly have a semi-final to plan and prepare for. There is likely to be little let-up for their players, particularly given the fierce competition within their squad. Tim Southee and Henry Nicholls, two players who were set to be in New Zealand's first-choice eleven at the start of the tournament, suffered injuries in the warm-ups and have not been able to force their way back in since. In remaining unbeaten so far, New Zealand haven't missed them but nobody in the eleven can be complacent.
Most of the team has functioned well and Kane Williamson, averaging 225, is operating on a plane above. The only worries are over Tom Latham, who could do with some runs, and Trent Boult, who would like a few more wickets. They have also yet to play Australia or England - and their match against India was washed out - so there will be tougher tests to come than they have faced so far.
Whereas things are hunky dory in the New Zealand camp, things are much gloomier in that of West Indies. They have been desperate in their last two games, losing heavily to England and Bangladesh. Those performances were such a contrast to the early optimism of their thrashing of Pakistan at Trent Bridge and then a good outing against Australia. That match, which they lost but should have won, was a huge missed opportunity. Their campaign has not recovered. It still can. Just.
In the defeats to England and Bangladesh, West Indies put their bowling eggs in the basket labeled "Pace, bounce and aggression." Unfortunately, all their eggs went into that basket and when it didn't work, they had nowhere to go. Some may see that as playing to their strengths. In Andre Russell, Shannon Gabriel and Oshane Thomas they certainly have genuine pace and genuine bounce. Others may regard that tactic as one-dimensional. In light of the way England and Bangladesh tucked into West Indies' bowling, the latter view probably has more weight.
Although West Indies racked up more than 400 and beat New Zealand in a warm-up match before the World Cup, the two teams have not met in an ODI proper for 18 months. When they did last face-off, New Zealand won a home series three-zip. Their last meeting before that was in the 2015 World Cup quarter-finals, a memorable match in which Martin Guptill scored a remarkable 237 not out. He helped New Zealand rack up 393 and they bowled West Indies out for 250. It doesn't often get more comprehensive.
When: Saturday June 22, 2019. 1.30pm Local Time
Where: Old Trafford, Manchester
What to expect: The weather is set to be mercifully dry for this game although the sun may be again conspicuous by its absence. The surface, different to that for the first two games here, had a green tinge on Friday but is expected to be a typical Old Trafford surface; some pace, bounce and a little movement for the bowlers but giving the batsmen opportunity to play their shots.
The Blackcaps could consider bringing in Tim Southee to put some overs into the fast-bowler's legs ahead of the more important tests to come. If he does return to the side, Matt Henry is probably the bowler to miss out which would be tough given he is averaging 22.85 so far in this tournament.
Possible XI: Colin Munro, Martin Guptill, Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor, Tom Latham, Jimmy Neesham, Colin de Grandhomme, Mitchell Santer, Lockie Ferguson, Matt Henry/Tim Southee, Trent Boult
Andre Russell has basically played the last two matches on one leg and Jason Holder confirmed at the pre-match press conference that the all-rounder was almost certain to sit this match out. Kemar Roach and Ashley Nurse will both come into contention to add variety to a bowling attack that has been too one-dimensional. Darren Bravo, who batted at eight against Bangladesh, and Oshane Thomas might miss out as a result.
Possible XI: Chris Gayle, Evin Lewis, Shai Hope, Nicholas Pooran, Shimron Hetmeyer, Jason Holder, Carlos Brathwaite, Ashley Nurse, Sheldon Cottrell, Kemar Roach, Shannon Gabriel
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