New Delhi, (AFP) - A resurgent West Indies face Ireland in Mohali on Friday knowing a victory could take them to the brink of the World Cup quarter-finals but wary of the challenge posed by the minnows.
The Caribbean side were well beaten by South Africa in their tournament opener but responded by thumping the Netherlands and demolishing co-hosts Bangladesh in Dhaka, bowling them out for just 58.
West Indies captain Darren Sammy said he was not getting carried away despite his side’s awesome display against Bangladesh, in which fast bowler Kemar Roach took 3-19 to add to his 6-27 against the Netherlands.
Other bright spots in the tournament have been the bowling by giant spinner Sulieman Benn and the potential shown by batsman Darren Bravo. “We are taking it step by step,” Sammy said.
The West Indies have four points from three matches in Group B, the same as South Africa but trailing India and England, with the top four sides from each group qualifying.
Sammy said the West Indies, who won the first two editions of the World Cup in 1975 and 1979 and also ruled Test cricket for two decades, were on the right track to regaining old glories. “We are aware of the history and legacy the West Indies have,” the captain said. “We have taken innovative steps to move forward. As a leader I want my team to improve. It is a process.”
Referring to the win over Bangladesh, he said: “People back in the Caribbean needed this performance. We look to move forward from here as a team and be as consistent as we can.”
West Indies coach Ottis Gibson also urged caution, saying it was too early to talk of a resurgence in West Indies cricket. “There is still a long way to go,” Gibson said.
But he added that the team had a good mix of players with Roach “a revelation” and Ramnaresh Sarwan and Shivnarine Chanderpaul bringing their experience to the side along with explosive batsman Chris Gayle.
Gibson said it was difficult for any total to be considered safe at a high-scoring tournament. “It’s a scary thought. Earlier, 320 used to be a good enough total in ODIs. But nowadays things are different. You have seen big scores being chased down,” he said.
Ireland’s win over England, in which they scored 329-7 to win the game, meant they leapfrogged Zimbabwe in the one-day international rankings, moving into 10th place.
Irish skipper William Porterfield still believes his team can qualify for the quarter-finals despite defeats to Bangladesh and India either side of their staggering win against England.
“We’ve got three games left and there’s no reason we can’t beat any of the three teams we’re playing,” said Porterfield. Ireland are fifth in Group B with two points.
Porterfield said his team’s never-say-die attitude would always make them a handful despite the defeat to India in Bangalore on Sunday. Ireland bowled and fielded superbly against India while defending a modest total of 207, reducing India to 100-4 before Yuvraj Singh guided his side home with an unbeaten 50.