Shamik Das

Friday, March 30, 2007

Sorry Windies staring down the barrel

Black Caps skipper Stephen Fleming and his opposite number Brian Charles Lara at the toss ahead of West Indies v New Zealand at the Sir Viv Richards Stadium in Antigua    Brian Lara looks a worried man at the end of New Zealand's defeat of West Indies

Antigua, World Cup, Super Eights: New Zealand 179/3
(39.2 overs) beat West Indies 177 (44.4 overs) by 7 wickets

Brian Charles Lara cut a disconsolate figure yesterday evening as the dust settled on yet another jaded, insipid performance from the hosts.

Outplayed for the third day running by Antipodean opposition and facing the very real prospect of an early exit from their own party, Lara blamed his fellow batsmen for the team's plight.

"We're just not playing well as a team, especially in the batting department," he said after the West Indies had again failed to bat out their fifty overs.

"At the start we wanted to post 250 plus, and we enjoyed a decent start to move to 60-odd for one. But we lost a cluster of wickets, and then Dwayne Bravo and I fell around the same time after a partnership, and that hurt us."

Lara knows it's now or never for his charges to deliver, starting with a must win game against Sri Lanka on Sunday. "We've got to get into the frame of mind of winning everything from now on," added the Trinidadian.

"If we are going to win the World Cup it's not just going to be one or two of them, or just me - it has to be the entire team. These are really desperate times, and the guys have to pick themselves up and know what is in front of them.

"We're not out of this yet, we just know that we can not afford another defeat. We must win our last four games."

Craig McMillan and Scott Syris shake hands after steering New Zealand to a comfortable win against the hosts

New Zealand, on the other hand, never really looked troubled by an attack containing only three frontline bowlers, as Scott Styris hit a fluent 80 and Craig McMillan a composed 33 to steer the Kiwis home with more than ten overs to spare.

"West Indies lacked a bit of enthusiasm, in terms of generating and taking the game to us," was the verdict of the Windies skipper's opposite number Stephen Fleming. "We certainly didn't scout for the lack of seamer, we had all three seamers playing.

"It did mean a long batting order and we expected them to come hard at us, but we created pressure, perhaps on the back of a good Australian performance.

"We were just able to stunt any momentum. They had a difficult period to bat and they got through that, but we were pleased to take wickets at key times. It was a good day for us.

"The exciting thing is every side you tick off, you're one place closer to the semi-finals. Ideally we're looking at ten points [five wins];
eight would be close and could create a log-jam.

"Part of the reason we put our foot down today was that run-rates could be close. We wanted to finish the game quickly, after we'd got into a position where we felt we couldn't lose it."


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