HARARE, Zimbabwe, CMC – Lifted by Tuesday’s domination of United Arab Emirates, a confident West Indies will go in search of their second straight win when they take on novices Papua New Guinea it their second match of the ICC World Cup Qualifiers here today.
There were question marks about the Windies stability in the build-up to the opening round, when they lost to Afghanistan and edged UAE in their two official warm-ups.
However, those doubts quickly dissipated when Chris Gayle and rookie left-hander Shimron Hetmyer lashed hundreds as West Indies piled up their fourth highest total in One-Day Internationals of 357 for four, en route to a 60-run victory over UAE.
And though today’s opposition at Old Hararians are hardly of the quality to trouble the two-time former World Cup champions, captain Jason Holder said his side would be looking to sustain their intensity nonetheless.
“We’re playing every game like a final, as I said from the very beginning,” he said here yesterday.
“We’ve seen a few of the opposition so far and everybody has a point to prove, everybody wants to qualify for the World Cup. It’s a big occasion so we’ll expect PNG to come firing at up to give us another push but it’s up to us to be consistent and disciplined.
“I think once we consistent and disciplined, the results will take care of themselves.”
Gayle slammed 124 – his 23rd ODI hundred – while Hetmyer stroked a top score of 127 to notch his maiden century in only his third appearance at this level, two innings that allowed West Indies to put the result out of question.
And with Shai Hope (35) and Evin Lewis (31) providing support, the Caribbean side collared the UAE attack, in an approach which impressed Holder.
“I’m extremely pleased with how the guys played. Obviously Chris was outstanding and he really set the tone for us,” the all-rounder explained.
“I think the beauty about how Chris played is that the other guys came in and supported him. He was going great guns and a guy like Evin Lewis who is normally quite fluent as well was able to support him and just give him the strike.
“I think Shimron Hetmyer was outstanding as well [in scoring] his maiden ODI century. He really supported Chris up front and when Chris left, he was the guy to take over the mantle.
“He was outstanding at doing that and showed a lot of maturity for a very young player.”
Both Windies warm-up matches were played on a sluggish tracks at the Harare Sports Club, leading to some concern that the pitches during the tournament would not be conducive to batting.
Holder, however, praised the surface at Old Hararians, pointing it out that it provided the basis for competitive cricket.
“It’s a really good cricket wicket. I felt there was something in it for the seamers – not much in it for the spinners – but I still felt if you were smart and steady you would’ve been able to get in a fairly tidy spell but all-round it was very good cricket wicket,” he noted.
“The carry was consistent, the pace was consistent as well and it was a wicket you could score freely on. You could hit through the line as well and it made a good spectacle for cricket.”
PNG, meanwhile are facing a must-win scenario after losing their first two matches. They went down by 56 runs to UAE and then to Ireland by four wickets.
The top three from each group will advance to the Super Sixes, where they will each play three matches against teams they did not meet in the preliminaries.
The finalists will secure the two remaining berths at the ICC World Cup scheduled for England next year from May 30 to July 15.
WINDIES – Jason Holder (captain), Jason Mohammed, Devendra Bishoo, Carlos Brathwaite, Sheldon Cottrell, Chris Gayle, Shimron Hetmyer, Shai Hope, Evin Lewis, Nikita Miller, Ashley Nurse, Rovman Powell, Kemar Roach, Marlon Samuels, Kesrick Williams.
PAPUA NEW GUINEA – Assadollah Vala (captain), Charles Amini, Sese Bau, Mahuru Dai, Kiplin Doriga, Jason Kila, Vani Morea, Alei Nao, Damien Ravu, John Reva, Lega Siaka, Chad Soper, Tony Ura, Norman Vanua, Jack Vare.