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Holder says time for the Windies to win another World Cup, Rashid happy with 'favourites' tag

Jason Holder will lead West Indies in ICC World Cup Qualifiers
Jason Holder will lead West Indies in ICC World Cup Qualifiers

The Windies captain Jason Holder has said it is time for his side to follow in the footsteps of their Under-19 and women’s teams and add a third World Cup to the collection.

Speaking at the Harare Sports Club on Monday ahead of the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier 2018, which will be played from 4-25 March, Holder admitted the Windies needed to lift their 50-over cricket and hoped this 10-team tournament would help them to not only find a winning combination but also the momentum going into next year’s World Cup in England and Wales. 

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“We’ve done well in T20 cricket, we’ve done well in women’s cricket and in Under-19 cricket. I think it’s about time we win another World Cup,” said Holder, referring to the Windies’ victories in the ICC World Twenty20 2016 and the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup 2016.

The Windies won the World Cup in 1975 and 1979 in England and Wales, but are featuring in the World Cup Qualifiers after finishing outside the top eight on the MRF Tyres ICC ODI Team Rankings at the 30 September 2017 cut-off date.

Holder continued: “We know what is at stake. It is an opportunity for us to grab some momentum heading into next year’s World Cup, get some games under our belt, just finalise some combinations, get things straightened, and hopefully turn our cricket in terms of the ODI format. It is probably our weaker formats. No doubt, we have not been consistent, something that we have addressed, hopefully going forward we should see some good performances.

“We’ve got a well-balanced side, quality side with experience. Hopefully, we could gel together and make things happen in this tournament.”

Holder praised Chris Gayle and Marlon Samuels for making themselves available for the Qualifiers. “I must commend Chris and Marlon, who have come here without motivation to do well for the West Indies and give themselves a chance to play another World Cup.

“As I said to the group, it may be an opportunity for guys to finish their careers well, it’s also an opportunity for guys to make a spark in their careers by playing in the World Cup.”

Afghanistan’s vice-captain Rashid Khan, who is expected to lead the side at least in the first half of the tournament after Asghar Stanikzai underwent an emergency Appendicitis operation in Harare on Monday, said he was happy for Afghanistan to be labelled as one of the tournament favourites:

“It feels good to see that Afghanistan is a favourite to qualify, said the world’s number-one ranked ODI bowler with a smile, adding: “I think we should show it on the ground, it’s not only on paper that we should look good.

“We should give 100 per cent on the ground and deliver. The result is not in our hands but we can only give 100 per cent on the ground and play positive, believe in ourselves, just go in and enjoy.”

Rashid said his side was not looking too far ahead, but was committed to take maximum points in the Super Six stage.

“We should take one by one - each game, not worry about qualifying for the final.”

“We should finish the table having four points, it will be very handy in the next round. We have to take every match seriously. We have to play good cricket against every team. Hopefully it will go well and we will get four points and go to the next round,” he said.

The Netherlands captain Peter Borren admitted that the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier was a difficult tournament considering that only the finalists will progress to next year’s event proper, but emphasized that his side had learnt from past experiences.

“We’ve got quite a bit of experience in these qualifying tournaments. We’ve learnt from successes and failures in the past. It is ruthless, it’s pretty difficult to qualify it being a 10-team tournament,” said Borren, adding: “Our experience should help because we know you’ve to turn up every day, you can’t afford to have a bad day or two bad days. You have to make sure that you consistently perform.

“We’ve had a lot of success in the last three years, we have become accustomed to winning and as much as we know, this is a big challenge and we are really looking forward to it. This is why we play cricket.

“The standard of qualifying tournaments has risen a lot, the Associates have got a lot better. When we last qualified for the 50-over World Cup, we played the qualifying tournament in 2009 in South Africa which was competitive, but the cricket was not of the standard that we will see in this tournament,” he said.

Hong Kong captain Babar Hayat said his team was focused on trying to qualify for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 and was confident his team had the ability to do so:

“The way we have been working hard for the past four years, our main focus is to just get into the World Cup. All the guys are very confident and for all of us it will be a dream come true if we get to play in the World Cup.

“The best thing (for us) was that everyone performed in the World Cricket League, so it was brilliant overall and hopefully we will continue that form in the World Cup Qualifier. The best thing about the team is that we are really young - our average age is 24 or 25, so we are really energetic. The next four years we will get much better and better.

“(Our fans) have been following us and supporting us, I’ve got a lot of messages from friends, family members, fans, Everyone is backing us and they know that we have the ability to get into the World Cup.”