Centuries from captain Shai Hope and Nicholas Pooran contributed to an emphatic victory over Nepal for the West Indies in their latest success, as they continue their quest to be one of the two final qualifiers for the ICC World Cup later this year.
They are currently involved in a qualifying tournament taking place in Zimbabwe and having beaten the US in their opening game earlier in the week, the exploits of their batters in their latest contest, helped to post a score that proved beyond their plucky Asian opponents.
They now go onto play the host nation in a crucial fixture at the weekend, before completing their group matches against the Netherlands on Monday 26 June. They will be looking to win both to position themselves in the highest place going into the second stage of the tournament and subsequently earn a spot in the competition finals, that will be played out in India in October 2023.
First objective is Super Six
The West Indies are in Group A of the qualifiers, along with the United States, Nepal, Zimbabwe, and the Netherlands, with everyone playing each other once. Two points are awarded to the victorious teams, with the top three at the completion of matches progressing into the second stage of the tournament, known as the “Super Six”.
This will involve those three, plus the top three that emerge from Group B which contains: Sri Lanka, Scotland, Ireland, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates.
Victories still vital
In the Super Six, there will be just one League, but they will only play the three sides who advance from the other group. However, and importantly for the West Indies going into their final two games, the results against the two sides that progress with them, will count in the Super Six standings; meaning that a victory over Zimbabwe would give them a massive advantage later in the competition.
Important to go on and win qualifying tournament
The teams that finish in the top two positions of the Super Six will claim the final places for the ICC World Cup, but nevertheless will play out one last game at the Harare Sports Club Ground on 9 July, to decide not only the overall winner of the qualifying tournament, but also gain a higher seeding for the World Cup proper, which will be contested in India in the early weeks of October.
There are already eight countries qualified, these being: hosts India, Australia, England, New Zealand, South Africa, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan.
Poor start brings cautious approach
In the game against Nepal, Kyle Mayers and Johnson Charles both were dismissed in the opening overs, and Brandon King followed soon after to leave the West Indies in a spot of bother.
However, after a careful start in which Pooran was dropped on just 3, he and his skipper gradually began to step up the scoring and put the side into a position of strength to really attack in the latter half of the innings.
Brilliant partnership helps post demanding score
Hope was eventually out for an excellent 132 off 129 balls, hitting 10 fours and 3 sixes. Pooran’s was a terrific knock – after taking advantage of his early “life” – facing 94 balls and also hitting 10 fours, and in his case 4 sixes, before falling to a stunning caught and bowled for a vital 115.
Between them they put on 214 runs for the fourth wicket and a quick-fire 29 off just 14 balls from Rovman Powell helped the score to a demanding 339-7 at the completion of their 50 overs, with 98 coming off the last ten.
Always in control
For Nepal, who are an emerging cricket nation, it represented a massive task to get anywhere near that score and they were always behind the asking rate, with wickets falling steadily too. There was some dogged resistance, and some late big hitting to bring some respectability to their total, but the result was never really in any doubt.
Nepal were finally dismissed with two balls of their allocation remaining for 338, to lose the game by 101 runs.
Negatives need to be addressed
There was a good spell of bowling from Jason Holder who took 3-34 and two wickets apiece for Alzarri Joseph, Keemo Paul, and Akeal Hussain, although Paul in particular was very expensive.
There was also some sloppiness in the West Indies play, with an unacceptable seven catches being spilled, together with lots of poor ground fielding.
This is something that Head Coach, Daren Sammy, will be stressing needs to be erased quickly, especially in the vital next match on 24 June against the hosts, Zimbabwe.