By Ravendra Madholall
The adage says it: “A drowning man will clutch at a straw.” Aptly fits for the global T20 champions West Indies who have found themselves in a must-win situation to keep their hopes alive in the ongoing World Cup extravaganza originating from Dubai.
With all the scenarios emanating, West Indies will have to beat Sri Lanka on Thursday (10 am) to enhance any chance of making it to the semi-final segment at the cricket showpiece. After three matches, the prospect of qualification is extremely slim for the Maroon lads now.
Having suffered two defeats and then clinched a three-run victory, West Indies remaining two matches against Sri Lanka and Australia (Saturday) are of paramount importance.
In their Group one, England are sitting comfortably at the top with eight points from four wins with one game outstanding while South Africa have surged back following sharply with six points from four encounters.
For their adored fans, West Indies still in the race, given the fact that South Africa’s Net-Run-Rate (NRR) is also negative along with West Indies whose NRR is at a dismal -1.598.
West Indies will still have to live in faiths that South Africa can be beaten and Australia lose their two more matches in comprehensive fashions and they (West Indies) win their games with massive margins to stick a chance.
The task for them is understandably enormous at the moments but since Sri Lanka have been quite pathetic too in every facet of their game, West Indies may start proceedings as the favorite.
Sri Lanka lost three matches and only picked up a win but they are virtually out of the World Cup.
West Indies showed reasonable improvements in their game but not that satisfactory with only Evin Lewis as a top-class batsman notching up a half-century thus far.
The others could not have found the rhythm and failed to make a huge impression and as consequence the team was beaten badly.
Their opening confrontation against England proved a disaster after they crumbled out for a measly 55 much to the consternation of their fans and while in the second clash, they humbled by South Africa to a convincing eight-wicket drubbing.
It is essential Lewis can return with that belligerence especially at the top where he can use his effective big-hitting in the powerplay while Nicolas Pooran blasted a 40 against Bangladesh to boost his confidence.
The gigantic question remains. Is the big guns going to fire in this assignment? Elite contemporary batter Chris Gayle, a big disappointment, might be implored by supporters to showcase his natural game with some flamboyant batting while his Jamaican compatriot Andre Russell must live up to the expectation of dominating with the bat down the order.
Skipper Kieron Pollard can be destructive too but those qualities are desperately needed along with Shimron Hetmyer who is yet to play a characteristically high-voltage innings.
The bowling will once again hinge around the dynamic all-rounder Dwayne Bravo with his deceptive medium-pace while speedster Ravi Rampaul is talented enough to bowl impressive overs especially on those helpful pitches. Left-arm spinner Akeal Hosein has demonstrated an important cog in the bowling wheel. He was asked to share the new ball and prospered with few quick wickets. Seamer Jason Holder has shown good skills along with the effervescent Russell, who is likely to deliver some intelligent seam bowling again at crucial stages.