West Indies have a critical Pool B match-up against defending champions India tomorrow morning at Perth and batting legend Sir Vivian Richards believe fast-bowling could be the regional side’s key weapon in their hunt for a victory.
If the West Indies win the encounter they are virtually guaranteed of a quarter-finals place with their final match being against the lowly United Arab Emirates. Defeat, however, and a win against the UAE, will leave them depending on results of matches involving Ireland and Pakistan, as well as net run rate, to advance.
Sir Viv said the West Indies should favour their chances on the bouncy Perth wicket. He also stated that West Indies’ batting was good enough to perform creditably against an Indian attack which he described as inconsistent.
“I think the West Indies’ batting order is talented enough to take a chance against such a traditionally inconsistent India bowling attack. While India is comfortably placed in Pool B, West Indies has to make up points for qualification to the next round. However, this is not a must-win game for [them] by any means. In fact, I don’t want [them] to think like that, because it will only put undue pressure on [them],” he said.
The living legend said the West Indies should go about their business professionally and as though it was any normal match. He said defeating India would boost the morale of the team and give the players the confidence to progress far in the tournament.
Sir Viv said he would not seek to play down what India had achieve in the World Cup so far with three victories, but he noted they had been on a long tour Down Under and though recent results were good, their overall showing in Australia had been inconsistent. He noted despite India’s talent pool they would have trouble defending their title.
The Antiguan knight said West Indies should look to concentrate on a pace attack and reasoned that left-arm pacer Sheldon Cotterrell should be considered for the early morning game. Kemar Roach was largely confined to sitting in the team dugout during training and is not expected to feature against India.
“[They] should think about playing Sheldon Cotterrell in this game. I know he is a rookie when it comes to ICC Cricket World Cup. He will bring serious aggression into the game. Sometimes he can get carried away and be expensive, but he has that meanness as a fast bowler and there is no more suitable place than Perth for him to showcase that,” Sir Viv said.
Richards also said captain Jason Holder should have a pivotal role on the WACA pitch.
“Despite having suffered in the last match against South Africa, I believe Jason Holder is bowling well. He is hitting the deck as hard as he can, using his height well. The bounce of the WACA pitch will act as another necessary tool for him in his progression,” he added.
West Indies have racked up 300-plus all three times they have batted first in the World Cup, but they failed to defend that against Ireland, and also conceded 408 to South Africa bowling first in their previous match. Against India, they will face the most economical attack of the tournament. They could be changes in the batting line-up with Johnson Charles a possible starter. Opener Dwayne Smith’s form has been horrendous and he looks a chubby passenger in the side. Averaging under 19 after more than 100 ODIs is no advertisement that Smith’s form is likely to improve anytime soon. Left-hander Jonathan Carter has not made best use of his chances in the middle-order and could make way for Charles although it would be a harsh decision after playing only a handful of internationals.
Other than his monumental innings against Zimbabwe, Chris Gayle’s form has been scratchy. The last time Gayle hit a century against India in ODIs was in 2006. In 19 innings after that he has only scored 450 runs at an average of 23.68 and has had seven single-digit scores including four ducks. West Indies will be hoping for better from the big left-handed Jamaican.
India have the firepower, if inconsistent, to trouble the West Indies on the Perth track. Mohammed Shami, who was ruled out of the previous game with a knee issue, bowled in the nets yesterday. Shami’s replacement, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, has claimed Gayle many times in the past. Mohit Sharma was hit in his right hand during a training session, but should be fit to play after x-ray scans revealed no major damage. However, spin could be the major weapon for the Indians with Ravichandran Ashwin being currently their leading wicket-taker in the World Cup. The WACA’s bounce should also help Ashwin as well as left-arm tweaker Ravindra Jadeja.
India have a potent batting line-up led by Virat Kohli, arguably, along with AB de Villiers, the best ODI batsman in the world. Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan have also been in recent good form with the latter striking a high quality century against hosts Australia in an Indian victory.
Match time is 2.30 a.m. local time.
Teams (possible): West Indies – 1 Johnson Charles, 2 Chris Gayle, 3 Jonathan Carter, 4 Marlon Samuels, 5 Denesh Ramdin (wk), 6 Lendl Simmons, 7 Darren Sammy, 8 Andre Russell, 9 Jason Holder (capt), 10 Jerome Taylor, 11 Sheldon Cotterrell. India – 1 Shikhar Dhawan, 2 Rohit Sharma, 3 Virat Kohli, 4 Ajinkya Rahane, 5 Suresh Raina, 6 MS Dhoni (capt & wk), 7 Ravindra Jadeja, 8 R Ashwin, 9 Bhuvneshwar Kumar/Mohammed Shami, 10 Mohit Sharma, 11 Umesh Yadav