Lara eyes a hat-trick and more in Champions

Published: Thursday, October 12, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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Jaipur:West Indies captain Brian Lara has sounded a warning to his Champions Trophy opponents, saying his team were keen to maintain their winning momentum.

Defending champions West Indies on Wednesday stormed into the main draw by drubbing bottom-placed Bangladesh by 10 wickets here for their second successive victory in the qualifying round.

They were also not tested in their opening match, thrashing Zimbabwe by nine wickets at Ahmedabad.

Lara's team now clash with Sri Lanka in their last round-robin match at Mumbai on Saturday to decide the qualifying-round winners. Sri Lanka have also made it to the next round with two wins from as many games.

"The win on Saturday is very important for us as we'd love to qualify as the number-one side and move on. We'd also love to continue the momentum," said the West Indies captain.

"We just need to impose ourselves on the opposition and if the opposition is weak then we should go and win. There's also no room for experimentation at this stage as you just have to win, win and win.

"Everybody knows his role in the team and if an opportunity is there for them I am sure they will go out and execute what they have to do on Saturday."

Lara said that Sri Lanka would also be keen on winning because no side wanted to suffer a defeat going into the main stage of the tournament.

"Both teams are going to be very competitive. We are going to go strongly for a win because I think three wins on a trot going into the second stage is definitely a positive and we are looking for it," he said.

Lara said he was not worried that most of his batsmen were short of match practice in the first two games. His team lost just one wicket against Zimbabwe and none against Bangladesh.

"If Chris (Gayle) and (Shivnarine) Chanderpaul are the only two to bat on Saturday, then this is great for us," he said.

"Of course we lost one wicket in two games, which again is very good for us. Some batsmen did not get opportunities, but I think the confidence of winning will definitely flow in the team and I expect a positive result on Saturday."

Only Gayle, Chanderpaul and Lara have so far batted in the first two games, but the skipper added he was happy to see his fast bowlers and spinners striking it rich.

Left-arm spinner Gayle grabbed three wickets against Zimbabwe while pacemen Dwayne Bravo took three and Corey Collymore two against Bangladesh.

"I think the guys are bowling well. We won by nine and 10 wickets, so we don't have many complaints as fast bowlers and spinners are enjoying it," he said.

"Dwayne, who did not do too well in a recent tri-series in Malaysia, is coming out good and we all know how good a bowler he was during a One-day series against India at home.

"Corey showed he is coming on and we expect him to continue. I am quite happy with his progress."

The West Indies will join South Africa, New Zealand and Pakistan in Group B if they emerge winners in the qualifying round.


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