Jason Holder Optimistic Of Chris Gayle's Return For Quarter-Final
Confirming the news regarding Gayle’s participation in the net session, Holder stated that a final decision on the big left-hander will be taken on the morning of the match.
“Yeah Chris is attending the practice this morning. Obviously he had an injection and a scan.
“The scan didn’t show anything major.
“So, we’ve to see how he pulls up today and make a decision tomorrow morning.”
Holder, who is captaining the West Indies in a World Cup for the first time, shared his opinion on the high-intensity game coming up on Saturday.
The 23-year-old also maintained that there wasn’t any need to inspire his teammates given the nature of the match at stake.
“It’s not just me obviously going into the game, it’s the entire team and they’re all up for the game.
“It’s a do-or-die situation and I guess that’s enough motivation for the guys to go out there and put in their all.”
What are the odds?
New Zealand 2/7, West Indies 11/4
Chris Gayle specials
To score more runs than Brendon McCullum: 5/4
Top WI batsman: 3/1
Man of the match: 8/1
Top WI bowler: 9/1
West Indies had a shocking start to the World Cup with the loss to Ireland followed by defeats to South Africa and India as well, putting their campaign in jeopardy.
Despite having been through a testing phase in the tournament, Holder insisted that his team had never given up hope on making the quarter-finals.
“We’re professionals and we just need to be professional about what we do.
“Obviously there will be obstacles along the way and there will be difficult times.
“You need look past it and move on from it. In certain situations, the quicker we find the solutions to it, the better for the team.
“In terms of losing games early, you will lose cricket games but the thing is that we’re here in the quarter-final and looking to win it.”
Holder exuded confidence on his side’s ability to contain New Zealand skipper Brendon McCullum who has posed a serious threat to new-ball bowlers in the World Cup so far.
Reflecting on his side’s pace attack led by Jerome Taylor who has had a fabulous tournament thus far, Holder hopes that the West Indies bowling unit can restrict the dashing blade of McCullum.
“Obviously Brendon McCullum is carrying some form but so are our bowlers.
“We’ve got Jerome Taylor who’s up there among the leading wickets in the tournament and rest haven’t done too badly.
“We just need to be disciplined and be our normal self.
“Aggression is also the key and Brendon is an aggressive batsman who probably would fight fire with fire.
“Hopefully, we can get the better of him.”
With all the limelight on Gayle’s fitness, Holder acknowledged the value added by the opening batsmen to his side in terms of impact and intimidation at the top of the order with the bat.
“Well Chris, his stats speak for themselves. He is one of the most feared batsmen in world cricket.
“So, to have Chris in my squad is a plus for anyone.
“His presence is a big plus and I just hope that he performs the way he is known to perform.”
However, Holder denied the perception that West Indies were heavily dependent on Gayle, citing his side’s win over UAE as an example to prove the point.
While accepting that it will be difficult to replace a player of Gayle’s stature, Holder claimed that his side had the talent to compensate for the Jamaican’s absence if required.
“Well, we won the last game without him, so we certainly can do it.
“Obviously, he’s been a very good player for us over the years but I’m sure that we can manage without him too.
“We’ve shown that we have people to fit the bill.
“We have Johnson who came in last game and he scored a half-century.
“So we’ve got people to fill the boots in the sense but having Chris is a plus for us.”
Speaking about West Indies’ chances in the quarter-final match, Holder stated that his side had nothing to lose and backed his team to play an aggressive brand of cricket.
“It’s a huge thing for us if we win. Many people wrote us off at the beginning of the tournament.
“They didn’t expect us to be in the quarter-finals but we’re here.
“So, we’ll go out all guns blazing tomorrow and give it our all.”
West Indies drew the One-Day International series 2-2 with New Zealand on their last visit to the country and Holder drew inspiration from the stat.
“New Zealand can be beaten.
“We’ve beaten them in our last series that we played here and we’ll be looking to beat them tomorrow.”
Apart from Gayle’s fitness, West Indies have been hit by the form of fellow opening batsman Dwayne Smith who had a horrendous time in the World Cup, aggregating a mere 93 runs from six matches.
While admitting that Smith’s form was a major concern, Holder backed the seasoned all-rounder to come good in the quarter-final stage.
“Obviously Dwayne hasn’t done as well as we would have liked him to.
“But we still have a lot of confidence in him.
“He still has a big part to play and could be a possibility in tomorrow’s game if he plays.
“We need to assess the conditions at the ground tomorrow and make a decision.”
New Zealand’s swing bowling has been a major threat for opponents with Trent Boult and Tim Southee cranking it up with the new ball.
Holder is aware of the Boult-Southee threat and hopes that his top-order can tide the new-ball wave to create a platform for his explosive batsmen down the order.
“We’ve always looked to set the game up for the power-hitters we have down the order who can all be explosive.
“We have to assess the conditions early when we bat.
“Boult and Southee have been doing well but need to play normal cricket and back our natural game.
“Once we do that, we can put them on the backfoot and set the game up for our power-hitters at the end.”
Dwelling on the lack of match practice experienced by the New Zealand middle-order, Holder feels that it’s an area his side can exploit, provided they strike with the new ball.
“New Zealand’s middle-order hasn’t been tested much in the tournament and so we’d look to take early wickets to put them under pressure tomorrow.”
Analyzing the conditions at the Westpac Stadium in Wellington, Holder expressed hope of getting a track with some movement in it.
“I played at the ground when we last came here and there was a bit of movement for the pacers.
“Generally you do expect a bit of swing here in New Zealand and so I would expect a bit of nip with the new ball tomorrow.
“Hopefully we can use it to the best of our advantage.”
Despite being a young captain in a World Cup knockout encounter, Holder is unfazed by the tremendous pressure surrounding the game.
“To be honest, I’m just treating it like another game.
“Yes, I’m captain, a young captain but I don’t think too deeply into it.
“We just need to rally together as a team and perform to our abilities tomorrow.
“That in itself is enough for me.”
Holder admitted the threat posed by late swing on the New Zealand pitches, something that Southee put to good effect during his devastating spell of 7- 33 against England on the same ground.
While being wary of the challenge, Holder emphasized on the need to be judicious in shot-selection particularly early in the innings.
“No doubt they’re great at late swing but we can counter it.
“It’s all about having a look at what they’re presenting and adjusting accordingly.
“Once we play the ball on merit, we give ourselves a chance at the start.
“We can always make up at the end as we’ve shown in the past.”
New Zealand’s exceptional progress as a unit over the past 18 months has stunned many but Holder stated that he wasn’t surprised by the improvement shown by his quarter-final opponents.
While lavishing praise on Brendon McCullum’s men, Holder seemed quietly confident of upsetting the tournament co-hosts on Saturday.
“No it’s not any surprise to me. I do not expect any international team to stay stagnant.
“International cricket is all about improvement and we expect people to improve.
“So, it’s not surprise to me that New Zealand have built this squad.
“We’d just go out there all guns blazing looking to win the game.”
The winner of Saturday's clash will face South Africa in the first semi-final at Eden Park in Auckland on Tuesday.
© Cricket World 2015