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Windies seek win against New Zealand for Super Eight spot


TAROUBA, Trinidad (CMC): For many, the ICC Men’s Twenty20 World Cup for West Indies starts when they face New Zealand in their third Group C match today.

The teams collide under the lights at the Brian Lara Cricket Academy (BLCA) in south Trinidad, with the Caribbean side aiming for their third successive win, which would catapult them into the Super Eight quarterfinal stage and more or less put the Black Caps on the brink of elimination from the tournament.

West Indies were able to ease their way into the tournament with a five-wicket win against Papua New Guinea and a 134-run win against Uganda in their two matches at the Guyana National Stadium this past week.

But their captain, Rovman Powell, admitted that New Zealand are more formidable opponents and that his side will have to be at their very best to get the best of the Black Caps, trying to recover from a shocking opening defeat against Afghanistan when they were bowled out for 84 in Guyana.

“I think we are pretty confident, and the guys have been playing some really good cricket,” Powell told reporters in a pre-match news conference on yesterday.

“New Zealand will pose different challenges from our first two opponents, but we are focusing on ourselves, and once we play good cricket, we should be okay.”

Some may consider that West Indies were provided with a favourable group and required a slice of good fortune to qualify for the final eight – and that occurred when Afghanistan took down the New Zealanders in their opening match.

The tournament co-hosts are well aware that they can guarantee finishing above the Black Caps in the group table, but there are still doubters.

According to Powell, his team’s record over the past 15 months suggests that those doubters are in the wrong.

“I think if you look at the last year or so, we have played good T20 cricket, so it’s just a continuation of us doing that even though it is a World Cup,” he said.

“The guys have done a lot of hard work coming into this World Cup, so hopefully, we can show the benefits of that hard work. It’s [one] of the more traditional teams, but I think once we focus on ourselves, we should be okay.”

West Indies are seeking an unprecedented third world T20 title, and they are trying to accomplish the feat on home soil, something that has never occurred previously, but Powell said his side was managing the expectations that have come with such an attempt.

“I think the expectations are on the back of us playing good T20 cricket, which has resulted in us being ranked number four in the world now,” he said.

“It is for us to continue to manage those expectations, and I think the guys have done that, but we are playing at home, and expectations and pressure will always be there. It’s just for us to keep on playing good cricket and keep on entertaining the fans.”

Powell said the BLCA will hold fond memories for West Indies after they toppled England for a series-clinching 3-2 win last December at the ground, with Akeal Hosein and Gudakesh Motie sharing eight wickets for 44 between them. The Caribbean side hopes that familiarity will breed success against New Zealand.

“Those performances [against England last year] give us confidence in knowing that it is our conditions, and we understand our conditions, and the results have gone our way at the BLCA,” said Powell.

“I think that is additional confidence for us that they have prepared different surfaces, and we have played on them and did well, so that is good for us as a team.”


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