Emancipation Day on August 1, promises to be another exciting day of racing as the attempts to revitalise the sport continues to gather momentum.
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Captain Bravo says Windies will deliver
Wellington—West Indies captain Dwayne Bravo is expecting his team to deliver under pressure as they try to level the two-match T20 series against New Zealand in Wellington today. Having looked the better team for most of the ODI series, New Zealand ended up having to share the spoils after losing the final match in Hamilton. Brendon McCullum, their captain, spoke of how that loss hurt the players, and how they will need to start closing out series “if we’re serious about trying to win big tournaments”. Wellington offers New Zealand another opportunity to close out a series. If they don’t do that against a makeshift West Indies outfit, cobbled together in the absence of its biggest names, it makes their task in the World T20 in Bangladesh that much harder.
West Indies are without Chris Gayle, Marlon Samuels, Kieron Pollard and Darren Sammy, but questions can still be asked of their selectors, considering the fact that their team in Auckland contained three wicketkeeper-batsmen (and their squad contains a fourth, Denesh Ramdin).
Clearly, the lack of specialist batsmen is hurting West Indies, and that might continue in Wellington. Following their comprehensive 81-run loss in the T20 match, Bravo compared today’s finale to the fifth ODI in Hamilton where they needed to win to salvage the series. “Once again we find ourselves in a position where it’s a must-win game for us so definitely we want to finish the tour on a high and close off the series at 1-1,” Bravo said. “We had a very good, high-intense training session (today) and our spirits are good. It’s been our nature, more often than not, to find ourselves in situations like this but we respond well under pressure. We have to do the same thing again to get ourselves out and level in the series but we can do the job.” Averages aren’t supposed to matter that much in T20 cricket, but they certainly do show the difference between the two teams. New Zealand have three batsmen averaging over 35, while West Indies have no one with an average higher than Bravo’s 28.80, if you ignore Nikita Miller’s average of 43 courtesy four not outs in five innings.
Bravo brushed off the previous loss as he stressed on how focused his team was on the Wellington fixture—their final match before returning to the Caribbean. “T20 is basically more based on momentum. The team coming into the match with the most momentum has a better chance of winning but there are some key moments in the game and we have to ensure we win those moments and hopefully, we’ll do the right things better than the Black Caps,” he said. Bravo labelled the Tests a “disappointment” and the ODIs as “fairly decent” but indicated that West Indies should never be ruled out in T20s. “At the top of the order, we need to put more thought and emphasis into the game. We have nothing to prove to anyone and we just have to focus on what we have to do. It’s up to us to believe in ourselves and we can win the game.” (CMC)