Former Australia batsman Steve Waugh has cautioned his compatriots that the West Indies have the batting power to completely take a game away, ahead of a showdown between the teams at the ICC Cricket World Cup on Thursday.

Both teams showed plenty of firepower with convincing wins in their opening encounters.  After dismissing Afghanistan for 207, the Aussies cruised to a 7-wicket win on the back of 89 from David Warner. 

The Windies were ruthless against Pakistan as steep deliveries precipitated their opponent’s hasty dismissal for 105.  The Caribbean team then cruised to 108, losing three wickets in the process.  Waugh believes Thursday’s encounter will be a big test for both.

"The Windies will provide a realistic gauge on how the team are tracking, for they possess a squad full of match-winners that can dominate if they gain any sense of ascendancy in a match,” Waugh told the ICC.

‘They are the most watchable team in the tournament with a batting line-up that can kidnap any bowling attack with brute force," Waugh added.

“No ground is big enough when this behemoth of a batting order clicks into overdrive but they also have a vulnerability against high-quality bowling as they tend to play one dimensional at times,” he said.

 “For the first time in a long while they have fast-bowling depth vindicated by Friday’s win against Pakistan without their finest in Kemar Roach and Shannon Gabriel.

“Their Achilles heel, however, will be their lack of mobility in the field and this is where Australia can influence the outcome.

Every side in this tournament will be wary of playing the Windies and I wouldn’t want to face them in a knockout match.”

 

West Indies skipper Jason Holder is anxious to do well at the ICC Cricket World Cup at the end of this month, but he is also looking back to previous One Day Internationals for what you could term, inspiration. 

Windies talisman Chris Gayle is known for setting records but the big left-hander could be heading for one he may not want when he makes his appearance later this month at the ICC World Cup.

The 39-year-old batsman is expected to earn his 290th ODI cap as a Windies opener, having scored 10,151 runs.  The appearance will also be the player’s fifth at a World Cup.

 If the Windies do not win the tournament and with the player already slated to retire immediately after it, Gayle would join a select group of players to have played the most World Cup without winning.  The big left-hander is in danger of being the ninth player to have accomplished this unwanted record.  Some of the most notable names include the likes of Mahela Jayawardene, Shahid Afridi and Jacques Kallis.  Regionally Gayle will join legends Brian Lara and Curtly Ambrose. 

Ambrose played in 17 World Cup games across three editions from 1992 to 1999 and had 24 wickets at just 20.79, conceding a miserly 3.03 runs per over.  Lara is the third highest run-scorer in World Cups with 1225 runs from 34 matches spread across 5 editions, starting from 1992.

Windies veteran batsman Chris Gayle has admitted to focusing on his mental preparation, ahead of even the physical aspects as his final World Cup appearance looms on the horizon.

Despite being one of the oldest players heading to the tournament, the 39-year-old has been in solid form in recent months.  In this season’s IPL Gayle has scored 490 runs in 13 matches but really stood out for the recent England series in the Caribbean.  The veteran batsman was named man of the series after amassing 429 runs in four matches at an average of 106.  The player believes keeping fresh has been key.

"I am just taking a lot of rest, getting a lot of massages, lots of stretching, just trying to stay fresh for games. I know what is required to keep me going on the field," Chris Gayle told PTI.

"Age catches up as you ain't getting any younger. But most important thing for me is the mental part of the game. It is not so much about the physical side of the game anymore. I have not done much fitness in the last couple of months," said the Windies veteran.

"I use my experience and mental aspect. I have not done gym for some time," said Chris Gayle.

Mystery spinner, Sunil Narine, who was recently left out of the Windies’ provisional 15-man squad to the World Cup in England next month, is insistent that he is not done with the regional team.

Narine has turned down a number of invitations from Cricket West Indies to be part of Windies One Day International teams for a variety of reasons.

The spinner, who was sidelined from cricket on two occasions because of an illegal action, had once said he wasn’t confident he could bowl 10 overs because of his revamped action.

Narine’s various issues have meant he hasn’t played an ODI for almost three years, dating back to October 2016, and his most recent comments about an injury ruling him out have been met with, scepticism.

That scepticism comes from the fact that Narine is, at the moment, playing for the Kolkata Knight Riders in the Indian Premier League, but the spinner claims he cannot manage more than that.

Narine sustained a torn ligament in his right middle finger a few months ago and has since been restricted in the type of deliveries and the number of them, he can bowl.

“I would have loved to play in the World Cup,” said Narine during an interview with ESPNcricinfo.

“I have missed international cricket and I’ve missed representing West Indies. It’s where my heart lies,” he said.

According to Narine, even playing T20 cricket has put a strain on the injury and he can’t get through four overs without work from the physiotherapist.

“I don't feel my finger is quite ready for ODI cricket. I can get through a T20 where I bowl just four overs. But even that isn't easy and I need help from the physio. It's holding me back from playing international cricket. I wouldn't be able to do myself or the team justice,” he said.

Narine believes that despite the scepticism from people in the Caribbean, the selectors and, in essence, Cricket West Indies, are sympathetic to his situation and the entities are well on their way, in terms of an improved relationship.

"I'm really happy that the selectors considered me," said Narine.

"It shows they have faith in me. I haven't played international cricket in so long and this shows how much they want me to come back. It was good to have some conversations with them and I feel we're all on the same page going forward."

Windies captain, Jason Holder, believes strongly that Jamaican fast bowlers Oshane Thomas and Shelton Cottrell will cause problems at the World Cup in England. 

Legendary West Indies captain Clive Lloyd has backed the regional team to spring a few surprises at this summer’s ICC Cricket World Cup. 

The Windies only just secured a spot in the final, having qualified from the ICC World Cup qualifiers last year.  Since then, however, the team has shown signs of improvement under the leadership of current skipper Jason Holder.

Lloyd, who won the tournament as the captain in 1974 and ’78, is confident the team has the ability but is yet to find a level of consistency.

 “I think they can be the surprise package,” Lloyd said of the team’s chances.

“The West Indies had a very good one day side four years running but you can never get the same guys playing.  They go off to the IPL or somewhere else. But when you have them they gel together,” he added.

“They were quite a formidable side. If they have the right combination here they will be a force to be reckoned with in this competition.”

The Windies will play their first match of the tournament against Pakistan on May 31st.  The top four teams from the group will progress to the knockout stage

 

Windies star batsman Chris Gayle is expected to miss out on joining the One Day International (ODI) squad for the series against India after committing to play in the Afghanistan Premier League (APL).

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