West Indies skipper Kieron Pollard is backing his side to ‘take the shackles off’ in their penultimate Group 1 clash with Sri Lanka as they look to keep alive their slim hopes of defending the trophy.
Pollard’s men entertain the Lions in Abu Dhabi on Thursday knowing two convincing wins are required from their final two games to give them any chance of qualifying for the semi-finals following damaging defeats against England and South Africa earlier in the group stage.
A three-run win over Bangladesh last time out got West Indies on the board and Pollard is not giving up hope of his side squeezing into the last four, insisting morale remains high while not hiding his frustration with their performances so far.
“We are all disappointed, and I’m sure most of the fans are disappointed at the position that we are in as a team,” he said.
“It’s something that we accept but we have an opportunity over a couple games to finish the tournament on a high.
“Obviously we’ve finished the early stages and see mathematically where we sit, but I think the main focus for us is actually winning the two games, and everything else can sort of take care of itself afterwards.
“In this thing called life and sport, nothing is impossible. What I can safely say is yes, the guys are confident. We knew exactly what sort of is needed in terms of from a run rate perspective, and we’ll take all things into consideration when that match starts.
“But I also believe that it’s very, very important that we continue to go through the process of trying to improve each and every time as a team and especially from a batting perspective, and that’s going to be the order of the day.
“It’s our opportunity now, guys can take off the shackles that has been holding us back in terms of our batting performance. There’s no secret about that.
“For us the mood is pretty good, the atmosphere, the camaraderie within the camp is good. There are still a lot of smiles on the faces and guys are trying to enjoy the moment.”
Pollard and his fellow batters will have to negotiate the tournament’s leading wicket-taker, Wanindu Hasaranga, who took a hat-trick against South Africa and will be looking to add to his 14 scalps in Thursday’s meeting.
But the West Indies skipper warned his teammates not to focus solely on the leg-spinner, with plenty of other weapons to be wary of in Sri Lanka’s armoury.
“Obviously he [Hasaranga] has been phenomenal for Sri Lanka for a long period of time and he has done well against us in the past,” Pollard said.
“He is definitely a trump card when it comes to their bowling line-up but as a team we have chatted about how we want to go about batting against certain individuals.
“It’s not only about Hasaranga. We do have to beat him this game but you have to think about the Kumaras and the Chameeras and all these guys.
“Everyone has a skill and a talent in their own right. We’re coming up against the Sri Lanka cricket team and we’re looking forward to playing a good solid game of cricket against that team.”
Sri Lanka’s semi-final hopes may be over but coach Mickey Arthur remains proud of how his developing side have acquitted themselves in the UAE.
“I can’t be more proud of this group because we’ve pushed England and all the bigger nations,” he said.
“For me to see how far we’ve come as a group, when I watch Pathum Nissanka, Charith Asalanka, Dushmantha Chameera, Wanindu Hasaranga, Maheesh Theekshana, Dasun Shanaka, Chamika Karunaratne – you can name eight or nine players. When I watch them perform, I get immensely proud because I know how much they’ve put into it.
“And for me as a coach, to guide these players, to perform on what has been the biggest stage has been a real honour.
“I sit back and I look at what these guys are going to offer Sri Lankan cricket in the future. I know that we are in very good hands. And I’m really excited about what their future has in store for Sri Lankan cricket.
“The guys are putting their mind to it for one last push because they want to end this World Cup on a massive high.”
Article courtesy: ICC Business Corporation FZ LLC 2020 via Online Media Zone.