Windies hopes of semi-final berth hangs by a thread

...Face New Zealand in day/night World Cup contest, praying for miracles

Saturday, June 22, 2019

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MANCHESTER, England — West Indies enter today's day/night match against New Zealand at Old Trafford with hopes of squeezing into the ICC World Cup semi-finals hanging by a thread.

West Indies, with only one win from five matches, have three points, while unbeaten New Zealand have nine points from five outings.

Speaking ahead of today's first ball, which is scheduled for 1:30 pm (7:30 am Jamaica time), West Indies captain Jason Holder said his team will fight all the way to keep their slim hopes alive.

“I think we still have a possible chance to qualify for the semi-finals, but we've just got to take it game by game. This encounter with New Zealand is very important. We all know what's at stake, and we just have to come and bring our A game. It's as simple as that,” he said during yesterday's pre-game press conference.

Despite the disparity in the points' column, West Indies can take heart from beating New Zealand by 91 runs in a pre-tournament warm-up game. In that high-scoring encounter in Bristol, the West Indies made 421 and then dismissed New Zealand for 330.

Holder said the performance is an indicator of the team's potential.

“It just shows what we can produce. It's a situation where we've just got to pull on those resources, remember the things that we did in that game. And it just shows that when we're at our best what we can produce. I think the guys just need to be clear, need to be calm, and just execute their plans,” he told members of the media.

“I'd say it's not impossible. We've beaten them before. We can beat them again,” the 27-year-old all-rounder said.

The West Indies skipper noted that off-spinner Ashley Nurse could feature in today's game after the ploy to use a five-man pace battery failed to restrict Bangladesh in their last match.

“Traditionally here it spins a bit. It's something that we've got back in our minds as well. It could be a possibility that Ashley comes back into the side. But as a group we'll get together, try to decide what's the best combination suited for tomorrow's game,” he said.

New Zealand pace bowler Lockie Ferguson noted his team's strong start to the tournament, but said they are wary of the West Indies threat.

“It's exciting to have some good starts in the World Cup for sure, but tomorrow will be a new game and a new surface, and we'll have to adjust to that one as well,” he said.

“They batted very well in that warm-up game in Bristol and put us under a lot of pressure in a warm-up game, too. But for sure we'll be taking some of the learning we took from that game, start again, obviously score's at zero.

“But there's no secret that the West Indies have a powerful line-up all the way through. And as a bowling unit we need to learn, if they get on a roll, we need to learn to shut down areas and build-up pressure again and hopefully take wickets,” Ferguson, 28, added.

The New Zealand speedster said he has been encouraged by the form of top batsmen Ross Taylor, Martin Guptill, and Captain Kane Williamson.

“I think we've got a lot of batters playing well on our team and for a long time. But it's nice when Kane's playing well, Ross is playing well, Gupi. Our top has some experience here, and as a bowler it's nice when they're spending time at the crease,” Ferguson said.

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