(Cricinfo) With the league stage of the World Cup entering its penultimate phase, two of the three teams that are out of contention for the semi-finals will fight for pride in Leicester. While West Indies will look to build on their 47-run victory against Sri Lanka, Pakistan will be keen on ending their 12-match winless streak in the World Cup. Their last victory in a World Cup fixture came in the 2009 edition – against the same opponents.
West Indies, however, may read little into that loss, considering it’s one of their only five defeats to Pakistan out of 21 ODIs. Besides, that their captain Stafanie Taylor boasts an average of 64 in 13 ODI innings versus Pakistan – the best by any player with eight innings or more against them – can only help them better the 229 they scored against Sri Lanka on Sunday, their highest in this campaign.
Taylor emphasized that even though her team is no longer in the running for a top-four finish, the significance of a victory cannot be undervalued, especially considering Pakistan would be eager to get their first win in the tournament. “We know how important these games are. We definitely want to win and go home on a high,” Taylor said.
“Pakistan has always been a fighting team against anyone, but I think everyone thinks West Indies is a team they want to beat. They all come out hard against us.”
Taylor’s counterpart Sana Mir, who became the first woman from her country to reach the 100-ODIs landmark on Saturday, fought a lone battle with the bat as her side went down to New Zealand by eight wickets.
The fifth straight loss further exposed Pakistan’s woes in the batting department, a fact established by Mir, a bowling allrounder, being the highest run-getter for Pakistan in this tournament so far. Having top scored in the last three games, with 29 against India, 45 against Australia and 50 against New Zealand, Mir hopes the youngsters who “showed promise in the previous tournaments” are able to able to apply themselves better in the remaining matches.
“It’s not acceptable at international level that you’re four down for 30 runs in three-four games”, she said.
Barring the first match, where Pakistan posted 206 against South Africa before falling to a three-wicket defeat, the batsmen haven’t been able to post more than 150 in the World Cup.The loss of Bismah Maroof – Pakistan’s leading run-getter in ODIs – to injury robbed their line-up of the security she provides in the top order, and this was echoed by Mir.
“We have to be patient with the team. Not having Bismah Maroof around makes things tougher as a batter. There have been a couple of times where we’ve lost early wickets, where she would have come in and given us a platform to put a good total on the board.
“It’s extremely important for us to finish this tournament on a strong note,” Mir said. “We started off with a strong game, then things started slipping, so it’s extremely important to finish well.”
In the most-recent contest at Grace Road, South Africa captain Dane van Niekerk had run through the Indian line-up with her legbreaks, on a pitch that slowed down further in the second innings. West Indies, who were at the receiving end of a similar salvo from Niekerk in their last outing at the ground, would be mindful of their ten-wicket loss to South Africa.
For Pakistan, though, familiarity with the venue may lend a psychological advantage, given they are the only side in this tournament to have played three games at Grace Road, having restricted defending champions Australia to 18 for 2 in the Powerplay in their last match.
With the Pakistan spin attack having accounted for 18 of the 29 wickets taken by the bowlers so far, Taylor said West Indies need to “counteract” early in the game.
“We know Pakistan’s usual team. They are going to come with their spinners because that’s what they mostly do to all the teams.”