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Hope and Pray!

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Hope and Pray!

Jason Holder’s West Indies will be seeking redemption when they take on New Zealand. West Indies seeking to avoid elimination

(CMC) – WEST Indies are hoping “frank discussions” will trigger the turnaround in form necessary to upset unbeaten New Zealand in today’s critical encounter at Old Trafford, and keep alive their already fading hopes of reaching the semi-finals of the ICC World Cup.

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The Caribbean side have managed only a single win in five outings and with just three points in their column and four games left in their campaign, a positive result against New Zealand has now become imperative if they are to avoid early elimination.

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And captain Jason Holder told reporters here yesterday the significance of the contest was not lost on the team, pointing out they were focussing on improving their execution following their last defeat against Bangladesh on Monday in Taunton.

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“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,” said Holder.

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“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 continued: “I don’t think it’s a situation where you’ve had to be tough. We’ve had a few frank discussions within the dressing room to find ways in which we can improve … I think all teams would get themselves in that situation at some point

“We’ve had some pretty good discussions over the last couple of days and tomorrow is just a day to deliver.” West Indies have not delivered since their opening game against Pakistan three weeks ago at Trent Bridge when they crushed the Asian side by seven wickets, after blasting them out for a paltry 105 with hostile fast bowling

Since then, they have lost three of four matches as their strategy of aggressive short-pitched bowling has backfired

Not only that but their much vaunted batting which piled up a mammoth 421 against New Zealand in a warm-up game in Bristol last month, has also failed to spark. Criticised by several great former West Indies players earlier this week for their “one-dimensional” approach, Holder acknowledged his side needed to be more adaptable in responding to game situations

“It’s just a situation where we’ve just got to play smarter cricket. We’ve just got to seize the crucial moments in the game – I don’t think we’ve done that well enough here in this tournament so far,” Holder lamented

“I don’t think the ground would pretty much hamper us thinking it through a lot better. We’ve got to be a little bit clearer as to our plans, make sure we make adjustments on any given day if our plan A doesn’t work.” He added: “I think the only thing we can do is come and play a solid game of cricket … against New Zealand. I think there’s been enough talk going around for quite some time. “And we’ve just got to play cricket now. I think we’ve done enough talking as a group. It’s just a matter for us to deliver.”

West Indies will need to conjure up a special performance against a New Zealand side yet to falter in the tournament and against whom they have lost six of their last seven ODI meetings. They will, however, take confidence from their warm-up contest against the Black Caps when their batting group produced an awesome glimpse of their capabilities in a 91-run win

Pointing to the performance, Holder said it remained a template for West Indies going forward

“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,” the all-rounder noted. “And it just shows that when we’re at our best what we can produce. I just think the guys just need to be clear, need to be calm and just execute their plans.”

New Zealand are second in the standings on nine points, one point behind leaders and reigning world champions Australia

SQUADS: WEST INDIES – Jason Holder (captain), Fabian Allen, Darren Bravo, Shannon Gabriel, Shimron Hetmyer, Evin Lewis, Nicholas Pooran, Andre Russell, Carlos Brathwaite, Sheldon Cottrell, Chris Gayle, Shai Hope, Ashley Nurse, Kemar Roach, Oshane Thomas. NEW ZEALAND – Kane Williamson (captain), Ross Taylor, Tom Latham, Tom Blundell, Mitchell Santner, Colin de Grandhomme, Lockie Ferguson, Tim Southee, Trent Boult, Colin Munro, Ish Sodhi, Henry Nicholls, Martin Guptill, Matt Henry, Jimmy Neesham