ODI: Windies hunting another ‘David & Goliath’ script

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(Reporting and Photography by Akeem Greene in Barbados, compliments of News Room and E-Networks)

Windies showed in the Test series against England that ICC rankings means little when you play to potential and execute the basics of the sport. Rated as underdogs, and justly so, they scolded the British lads, securing a 2-1 series victory.

Inspirational leader Jason Holder knows even though they surpassed expectations with the red ball, they are still tagged as underdogs for this five match One-Day International Series, which commences on Wednesday (February 20) at the Kensington Oval, Barbados.

The reality is they are ranked ninth as compared to the 2019 World Cup favourites, who are in first position. Since the ICC World Cup in 2015, England have won 14 out of the 18 bilateral series, losing only four, one of which was a one-off against Scotland.

The last time the Caribbean side won an ODI series was against Bangladesh who toured in 2014, when Dwayne Bravo was captain and Holder was finding his feet on the big stage. They swept the three-match handsomely, but a rot engulfed them afterwards, with only a drawn series against Afghanistan in 2017, easing the defeats.

As historians say, history points to the future and Windies can draw on the iconic biblical story of David and Goliath, and look to thwart the English exuberance.

“Pretty confident coming into the game, we obviously had some momentum in this series by winning the Test series. We have got some experience in the dressing room; we pack a punch in terms of stacking up our team. We got Chris [Gayle] coming back into the team, we got Carlos [Brathwaite] at the back-end and we all know what these guys can produce and I am really excited for the challenge up ahead,” Holder contended on the eve of the pivotal clash.

Shimron Hetmyer practices his six-hitting

If there is one green light for the hosts, apart from the explosive Christopher Gayle wanting to end his ODI career on high, it is the express pace of Oshane Thomas. There is also the nagging consistency of Kemar Roach, who tormented the tourists with the red ball, copping the Man-of-the-Series award.

“We have got to be clinical in terms of our bowling; England pack a heavy punch in terms of their batting. They bat very deep and they are the top-ranked side for a reason so have to be really precise with our bowling plans and ensure we are executing them good as possible.  The way One-day cricket has gone in the last couple of years, 300-320 is almost a par score and we got to be very strict with our plans.”

Holder further indicated he has high hopes of the pugnacious Shimron Hetmyer and the plan is to allow the senior players to “bat around” him as he plays with his natural flare.

Regarding team selection, he confirmed Jamaican John Campbell, who had a solid debut Test series, will partner Gayle at the top.

He also hinted Nicholas Pooran could be handed a debut and there could be space for Brathwaite as well. His main contention is whether to field an extra spinner or pacer on a surface which looks barred of any grass, a complete opposite to the one on which they shot out England for 77 in the Test series.

In Holder’s way for a first ODI series is Eoin Morgan and some explosive company. Morgan admitted the series brings a chance to solidify World Cup spots. However, the experiences of the Tests mean they cannot afford to take Windies lightly.

“We got beaten by Scotland last year and they are ranked lower than the West Indies; we know the threat that any side can play on the day. The West Indies are very strong at the moment and we are not taking them lightly,” Morgan expressed.

West Indies squad for first two ODIs: Jason Holder (captain), Fabian Allen, Devendra Bishoo, Carlos Brathwaite, Darren Bravo, John Campbell, Sheldon Cottrell, Chris Gayle, Shimron Hetmyer, Shai Hope, Ashley Nurse, Nicholas Pooran, Kemar Roach, Oshane Thomas.

England squad: Eoin Morgan (captain), Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow, Jos Buttler, Tom Curran, Joe Denly, Alex Hales, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, David Willey, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood.

Match time is 11:00h.

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