Pollard wants West Indies to hit 300+ totals in quest for crucial points
By Akeem Greene
Another 30 points are on offer this series for West Indies and Australia as part of the revamped structure – Super League – for qualification to the 2023 50-over World Cup in India.
West Indies got a clean sweep of the points when they played Sri Lanka in March, while a full-strength Australian team won at home to India last November.
West Indies captain, Kieron Pollard, speaking on the eve of today’s first One-Day International at the Kensington Oval from 14:30h, said the aim is to win all 30 points in the three-match series or at minimum, 20 points.
“In terms of 50-over cricket, we have to play each game like a sort of a quarter-final/knockout game because it is for points and it is going to have value in the back-end so we have to be focused on that and we have to be focused on winning and finding the right methodology to go ahead and win. That is our main focus and hopefully guys can buy into it and we can hit the ground running at the start of this series.”
From a bigger picture, Pollards wants West Indies, when batting first, begin to consistently set targets above 300, which he deemed to be the international standard.
“In terms of a batting perspective, that is international standards – 300, 320, 330. We had started this quest a couple of years ago when we tried to find the right balance, and we sort of found that and now is a matter of the next step which is to consistently hit those targets,” the skipper explained.
“It is work in progress and I think we have the personnel in the dressing room, but we still have to play each condition on its merit, we still have to respect conditions, and we still have to respect oppositions.”
For the visitors, the batting is depleted – no David Warner, Glenn Maxwell, Steve Smith, Marcus Stoinis- and now captain Aaron Finch will miss the first ODI due to a knee injury. Alex Carey will be captain for the first match.
It gives a serious chance for West Indies to capitalise on a team they have not defeated in an ODI series since Australia toured in March 1995.
For some consolation, West Indies had defeated the Aussies in the matches during the Tri-Nation series in 2016 – the last time Aussies visited the Caribbean.
Since 2000, the sides have played each other 48 times in ODIs with Australia 37-8 ahead although in this series the home advantage for West Indies could be significant.
“It is an Australian cricket team that left the shores and these guys want to impress one way or the other so inexperience, it can work for and against. So, it is a matter of us concentrating on what we need to do, what our plans are, and try to limit them for as much as possible.”
Pollard highlighted Mitchell Marsh as someone they will hope to contain, as during the Twenty20 International series, he was the shining light for the Aussies with 219 runs at an average of 43 and strike rate of 152.08; he also took eight wickets.
Pollard, who missed the entire five-match T20I series against the Aussies, did not confirm whether he would feature today, but did say he enjoys playing against them.
He averages 36.64 in 20 innings against the Aussies, which is way above his career average of 26.43, and has scored two of his three ODI tons against the Australians.
“I must say I enjoy playing against the Aussies; I love their fight and determination on the field, and obviously that is my character on the field…I like the way how they play cricket and I think sometimes that is how sports are supposed to play, you play hard on the cricket field. I would love to score some runs against them again, and hopefully, that happens and it means we are doing well.”
Additionally, Pollard revealed leg-spinner Hayden Walsh Jr. is in line to play despite not being in their original squad of 15.
Walsh Jr. made a stunning return to international cricket that saw him being named player of the T20 series in a 4-1 win over the Aussies. He took 12 wickets at 11.66, with an economy rate of seven.
West Indies ODI squad: Kieron Pollard (Captain), Shai Hope (Vice-captain), Fabian Allen, Darren Bravo, Roston Chase, Sheldon Cottrell, Shimron Hetmyer, Jason Holder, Akeal Hosein, Alzarri Joseph, Evin Lewis, Jason Mohammed, Anderson Phillip, Nicholas Pooran, Romario Shepherd
Australia squad: Aaron Finch (Captain), Ashton Agar, Wes Agar, Jason Behrendorff, Alex Carey (Vice-captain for ODIs), Dan Christian, Josh Hazlewood, Moises Henriques, Mitchell Marsh, Ben McDermott, Riley Meredith, Josh Philippe, Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Swepson, Ashton Turner, Andrew Tye, Matthew Wade (Vice-captain for T20Is), Adam Zampa. Travelling reserves: Nathan Ellils, Tanveer Sangha.