Brian Lara, the former West Indies batsman, believes the Caribbean side are unpredictable, and that consistency will be key if they have to perform well in the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2019.
Lara, who is in India as a part of the expert commentary panel for the Indian Premier League, backed his home side to make it to the semi-finals, calling them the "surprise element" in the tournament.
"West Indies will have to play some consistent cricket. We've shown that we can beat England or India. We can beat any team on our day. But then we lose against Bangladesh or Afghanistan, and we let it all go away. So, that's what West Indies have to avoid. I would love to see them get to the semi-finals," he told the Times of India.
"West Indies, over the last two [T20] World Cups, have been the surprise element. They've always been up there in the opposing team's mind. There have been too many elements joining the dots, gradually but it's happening. So, I don't think any country walks into the game against West Indies anymore thinking it's all over before it starts.
"On the other hand, we are capable of colossal failures, too. So, the surprise element works both ways and that's where West Indies need to keep working. It's amazing we have players that are most sought after in the different franchise leagues around the world and can still get together as a team. We've got two T20 World Cup trophies to show for that. But consistency is the key," added the left-hander.
When asked which other teams he thinks will reach the semi-finals, Lara picked England and India to comfortably sail through.
I don't think any country walks into the game against West Indies anymore thinking it's all over before it starts.
"Normally, I'd never risk backing them because they've never failed to lose that one important game," he said of England. "But this team looks good. So, them and India [are] two teams I believe will definitely be in the semi-finals."
The West Indies legend, who has over 10,000 runs in one-day internationals, cautioned the batsmen to be wary of conditions in England. "England can be tricky, which is great. When I played in England, I enjoyed it. I think the key to performing in England is knowing your game, knowing your limitations, and playing accordingly, assessing conditions very quickly.
"He came to me and said, 'Russ, you're better than that. You can use bigger bats, you're strong'."@Russell12A has a fellow Jamaican to thank for his splendid form this season 🌴⬇️https://t.co/YwSgytIsu7— ICC (@ICC) April 20, 2019
"You're batting under a cloudy sky, on a damp pitch and suddenly a couple of hours later, it's all dried out, the sun is out and things turn better. England is all about how quickly you assess that.
"One thing is sure: if it's going to be a dry summer, pitches are going to be very receptive to good batting," he added.
England and India - two teams I believe will definitely be in the semi-finals.
Lara also thinks that the competition could come down to who has the better mindset. "The key battle in cricket is always the mental battle," he said. "That's something you cannot show. But it's there. Always. Simmering. Playing on your mind. The team that wins that, wins half the battle.
"You see guys with average technique score tons of runs and guys with amazing techniques going nowhere. That's because mentally they are not there."
West Indies begin their World Cup campaign on 31 May in Nottingham against Pakistan.
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