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—assures confident Windies Skipper, Kieron Pollard
GROS ISLET, St Lucia (CMC) — Captain Kieron Pollard says confident West Indies are unfazed by the prospect of facing World number ones England, along with powerhouses Australia and South Africa, in the preliminary Super 12s round of next October’s Twenty20 World Cup.
The Caribbean side, who are reigning champions following their conquest in the last showpiece five years ago, were Friday announced in a difficult Group 1 of the October 17 to November 14 tournament in United Arab Emirates and Oman, which borders UAE.
Group 1 will also comprise the winners of Group A and the second place finishers in Group B, of the preceding T20 World Cup qualifiers. “For us, it doesn’t matter what group we’re in, we still have to come up against all teams,” Pollard said.
“If you want to be the champions, you’ve got to play all the teams and you’ve got to win. It’s just a matter of continuing to improve as a team.”
West Indies, ranked eighth in the ICC T20 rankings, have endured mixed results in the shortest format this year. They beat Sri Lanka 2-1 in a three-match series last March before suffering a 3-2 defeat in a five-match series against the Proteas earlier this month.
They bounced back strongly to demolish Australia — minus several leading players — 4-1 in another five-match series, which wrapped up here at the Daren Sammy National Stadium Friday night with a 16-run victory. West Indies beat England in the final of the last T20 World Cup in India but have lost three of their four games against them since.
Pollard, who missed the Australia series through injury, said while West Indies were now familiar with the Aussies and South Africa, having just clashed with both, the focus would be on executing their own game regardless of the opponent. “The good thing about it is we’ve just played two of the opponents so we may have a fair idea about Australia and South Africa but we’ll see what happens,” he explained.
“For us, what is very, very important is that we play cricket as a team and we understand our game, and we understand who is going to do what, where and how, and when we go to the World Cup, have a clear understanding of what is needed.”
Group 2 of the T20 World Cup will comprise India, Pakistan, New Zealand and Afghanistan, along with two qualifiers. Sri Lanka, the 2014 champions, are part of the eight-team qualifying tournament. Following their recent defeat to South Africa, West Indies entered the Australia series as underdogs but dominated from the outset, to storm to an unassailable 3-0 lead. And Pollard, who was replaced by vice-captain Nicholas Pooran at the helm, said the series success was a clear signal of progress for the regional unit. “I’m very, very pleased. It’s fantastic how the guys went out. Nicholas getting this opportunity to lead West Indies at age 25 [in] a group of senior guys,” Pollard said.
“And the way that he went out and led, helped by the senior guys, was absolutely fantastic. “It was a joy to watch how the fellas played throughout the entire series and you can’t feel any better than how we’re feeling right now.” West Indies face Pakistan in their third straight five-match T20I series starting later this month in Barbados and ending in Guyana.