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Chris Gayle and Jason Holder

In Profile: Windies

CWCQ, team preview

The two-time world champions slipped down the rankings to miss out on automatic qualification for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 and will go to Zimbabwe looking to avoid an upset.

Given the experience within their ranks, and their position in the MRF Tyres ICC ODI Rankings, West Indies will start as favourites to reach the 2019 Cricket World Cup. The two-time champions will be hoping to avoid any shocks as they try to negotiate Group A and then the Super Sixes to reach the finals. 

The West Indies are having to play in a World Cup qualifier for the first time in their history, having finished in ninth place in the ODI Championship table at the 30 September 2017 cut off. 

Recent results
20 December – Lost to New Zealand by 5 wickets
23 December – Lost to New Zealand by 204 runs
26 December – Lost to New Zealand by 66 runs 

Papua New Guinea
United Arab Emirates

6 March – United Arab Emirates, Old Hararians Sports Club, Harare
8 March – Papua New Guinea, Old Hararians Sports Club, Harare
10 March – Ireland, Harare Sports Club, Harare
12 March – Netherlands, Harare Sports Club, Harare 

Squad: Jason Holder (capt), Devendra Bishoo, Carlos Brathwaite, Sheldon Cottrell, Chris Gayle, Shimron Hetmyer, Shai Hope (wk), Evin Lewis, Nikita Miller, Jason Mohammed, Ashley Nurse, Rovman Powell, Kemar Roach, Marlon Samuels, Kesrick Williams 

Even with big names like Sunil Narine, Kieron Pollard, Dwayne Bravo and Andre Russell missing, the Windies squad is packed full of talent. The batting in particular looks frightening, with the destructive power of Chris Gayle alongside Evin Lewis – a player with similar explosive tendencies – at the top of the order. 

Evin Lewis will form a daunting opening partnership with Chris Gayle
Evin Lewis will form a daunting opening partnership with Chris Gayle

With the vastly experienced Marlon Samuels, 2016 T20 World Cup-winning star Carlos Brathwaite and an up-and-coming talent like Shai Hope coming in the middle order, the Windies batting line-up looks truly formidable. Opposition bowlers will have to be on the top of their game. 

The bowling department is also strong, boasting the pace of Kemar Roach, the trickery of Kesrick Williams, the consistency of captain Jason Holder, the mystery of Devendra Bishoo, and the guile of off-spinner Ashley Nurse.

Jason Holder will lead a star-studded Windies side
Jason Holder will lead a star-studded Windies side

Stuart Law's side begin their campaign against the United Arab Emirates on 6 March, before playing Papua New Guinea two days later. They then face Ireland on 10 March before finishing the group stage against the Netherlands. 

The Windies are very capable of winning every game in Zimbabwe, but they will need to remain focused throughout. 

Cricket World Cup history
The Windies have appeared at all 11 ICC Cricket World Cups, winning the first two editions, both held in England, in 1975 and 1979. However, as their participation in the Qualifier suggests, they have struggled with consistency in the 50-over format in recent years, failing to reach the semi-finals of a World Cup since 1996.

Chris Gayle double century v Zimbabwe
Chris Gayle blasted the first ever World Cup double-century in a knock studded with 16 massive sixes in West Indies' CWC15 match against Zimbabwe.

At the most recent World Cup, held in Australia and New Zealand in 2015, they were comprehensively beaten by the Black Caps in the quarter-finals after squeezing through their group with three wins and three losses. 

What needs to go right for Windies to qualify?

The favourite tag could be a burden for the Windies. They are the big-name side in the competition and they will have a target on their backs – something skipper Holder is wary of.

"We know the opponents will be fearless, they have nothing to lose and everything to gain," he said. "I believe every side in this tournament is dangerous and we must not take any team lightly. We will take every game as a final."

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