Stuart Law all praise for Jason Holder’s leadership and the team’s energy after Windies sealed a crucial win.
At the end of Windies’ four-wicket victory over Zimbabwe in the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier 2018 on Monday, five of the six teams in the mix were still left with a chance of making the top two and going through to the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019.
Zimbabwe, despite the reversal, are in with a very good chance of travelling to the United Kingdom, but to get there, they must beat the United Arab Emirates, the only team to not have a shot at making the cut, on Thursday at Harare Sports Club.
Brendan Taylor, whose excellent 138 against Windies, his second century of the tournament, went in vain, called the UAE fixture ‘a final’, and expected the Zimbabwe team to raise their game for it.
“We know the importance of Thursday against UAE, which is a side that is certainly developing. They’ve got some pretty handy players as well and they will be keen to make a statement. For us, it’s basically a final. We need to win that. It’s pretty clear-cut for us. We know what we have to do,” said Taylor after the defeat.
Zimbabwe looked good for more than the 289 they put up when Taylor was batting with Sikandar Raza, with the scoreboard reading 234/4 at the start of the 43rd over. But wickets started to fall to the Windies pacers, and Zimbabwe had to settle for a competitive total instead of a formidable one.
Taylor was clear that his team took the foot off the pedal at various stages, and were not ‘sharp enough’.
“We need to be sharper than we were today. I think there were a couple of soft dismissals, our spinners weren’t probably as good as they have been in the past in this tournament, and certainly not backed up by our fielding. That’s what let us down today,” he said. “We grafted hard and we felt we had a good total there. Unfortunately, I don’t think we were sharp enough in the field today to try and restrict them.”
From the Windies point of view, the win was vital as they had lost to Afghanistan in their first Super Sixes game. They are still in pole position, though, having come into the round with the maximum possible four points, but have a tough game against Scotland coming up.
Stuart Law, the Windies coach, was happy with what he felt was a competent performance from his team, saying that the ‘energy was outstanding’.
“Zimbabwe fought a great fight, as we expected. They are very tough to beat in their own shores. We had to play well to beat them today and I’m glad the boys did that,” he said.
“Jason Holder, for the whole game, was outstanding. To only go for 35 runs in his 10 (overs), with a total of 290, was outstanding. And also picking up four wickets. At one stage, with Brendan Taylor there, Zimbabwe looked like getting 320-330-340. For our boys to pin them back …”
Holder wasn’t the only one who came in for praise.
“We’ve got a young kid, Keemo Paul, playing his second game, showing tremendous maturity and execution. Kemar Roach as ever has been in outstanding servant of West Indies cricket. Also after a long layoff he’s come back with gusto in the last year. We’ve got some really good bowlers and they did a great job,” said Law.
The job was only half done when the bowlers finished up, and then there were half-centuries from Evin Lewis (64), Shai Hope (76) and Marlon Samuels (86) that completed the win.
“Our plan was not to lose too many wickets up front, and to have wickets at the back end so we could attack,” explained Law. “Marlon Samuels and Shai Hope played a brilliant partnership. It would have been nice if one of them had been there at the end to cap off a great day. We lost a few wickets towards the back end, which was a bit of kamikaze cricket at times. If it comes off it looks great. We were lucky to have two cool heads at the end there, Rovman Powell and Ashley Nurse, to see us over the line.”
That said, against Scotland on Wednesday, there are areas Windies need to work on. “In the spin department, we need to find ways to curtail the runs, but on a good wicket with someone in really good form it’s really hard to do that. But we’ve got to put our heads together and work out a way to get better at doing that,” said Law.
“We can't take anyone lightly in this competition, I think everyone sees that. People sitting on the outside expecting teams to just roll over and die, those days are gone. If you take Marlon and Chris Gayle out of our team, we're probably one of the most inexperienced sides here, in terms of number of games. Our guys are young and they're still learning. We've got a little bit to work on.”
On the subject, with Zimbabwe taking on UAE in their last game, Taylor was equally realistic. “We can’t worry about them. We have to worry about what we do on Thursday. If we do that well, we win. That’s your final. It’s clear-cut,” he said.
Personalise your homepage with an ICC account
News, fixtures and updates tailored to your favourite team. Never miss a moment!