Windies in make-or-break clash with Proteas

Published: Tuesday, April 10, 2007, 23:53 [IST]
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St George's (Grenada):For hosts West Indies, it is going to be their last chance to keep their hopes alive while for South Africa it is battle for survival as the two teams lock horns in the crunch Super Eight league match of the cricket World Cup here on Tuesday.

The hosts got a virtual lifeline when Bangladesh surprised mighty South Africa and now the hosts will be hoping to swing their wayward World Cup campaign back on track.

West Indies have lost their first three matches of the Super Eight league but with a nine-day break behind them, the home side will now have a chance to put it across unsettled South Africans.

West Indies captain Brian Lara said he plans to turn up the pressure early on against South Africa with bat or ball on Tuesday.

Lara's team lost their first three Super Eights games with defeats against Australia, New Zealand and Sri Lanka leaving them with no further room for error although South Africa's loss to Bangladesh on Saturday had given the West Indians a lift.

"We have three games left in the tournament and if we win all three games we have a great chance of making the semi-finals and that is enough motivation," said Lara on Monday.

"The most important thing is to put the (South African) team under pressure. In the games we won in the group stage we put the opposition under pressure early on and similarly in the games we lost ... we were under pressure from the burden of the situation.

"Our aim is going to be to get our heads in front at the beginning of the game and that can create a lot of pressure for the other side."

No host team has ever won the World Cup but Lara denied his side were struggling to cope with the responsibility of playing at home and believes that a packed stadium in Grenada could help his team.

"There are advantages. I am sure the support is going to be great and that is a positive. If we can gain some momentum, I think the crowd support and the fact that we are at home will be a huge advantage," he said.

Lara said he was unconcerned about opening batsman Chris Gayle's recent slump in form, believing his side has enough quality up the order to get a competitive total on the board.

"We have to improve. It doesn't matter if Chris Gayle comes out on Tuesday and doesn't score -- we've got guys who are capable of winning matches and putting partnerships together," he said.

Lara and his fellow selectors have a number of options ahead of them. While it is unlikely that Lara will drop any of his frontline batsmen, he has choices to make with regard to his bowling attack.

Left-armer Ian Bradshaw and medium-pacer Corey Collymore have been rotated with paceman Jerome Taylor being preferred as the partner to in-form opening bowler Daren Powell.

South Africa coach Mickey Arthur said his players have got over their surprise loss to Bangladesh.

"The guys hurt a lot, which is a good thing. We've had a good chat and we've put the Bangladesh game behind us. We've closed the book on it. We still hold the key to our destiny in the competition," he said.

Arthur anticipates a real battle between two sides who have a lot of pride to restore.

"I expect the West Indies to be hungry, I expect them to play with a lot of fire, to play with a lot of passion and I expect them to be desperate - just like we are going to be," he added.

Gibbs doubtful: South Africa may miss the services of injured batsman Herschelle Gibbs in its crucial Super Eights tie against West Indies.

Gibbs strained his left calf muscle while fielding in South Africa's 67-run defeat by Bangladesh on Saturday. He batted with a runner and top scored with an unbeaten 56.

Gibbs did not bat during a training session in St George's, Grenada, on Monday and coach Mickey Arthur said South Africa would delay a decision on his involvement until the last minute.

"We're leaving it until later for Herschelle, he's probably no more than 50-50 at the moment," Arthur told a news conference.

"If the risk was on the positive side, if he had a 60-40 chance of playing, I'm sure we would look to give him a go.

"But he's got to get through 50 overs in the field and he's got to run between the wickets.

"At this stage it's looking like a fair risk to take but let's see what our physio can do with his magic hands this afternoon and we'll go from there

If Gibbs is ruled out, Arthur said opener AB de Villiers would probably move down the order to number four.

Loots Bosman is expected to step in to the side as Gibbs's replacement.


West Indies: Brian Lara (Capt), Ian Bradshaw, Dwayne Bravo, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Corey Collymore, Chris Gayle, Kieron Pollard, Daren Powell, Denesh Ramdin (WK), Marlon Samuels, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Lendl Simmons, Dwayne Smith, Devon Smith and Jerome Taylor. Coach: Bennett.

South Africa: Graeme Smith (Capt), Jacques Kallis, Loots Bosman, Mark Boucher (WK), AB de Villiers, Herschelle Gibbs, Andrew Hall, Justin Kemp, Charl Langeveldt, Andre Nel, Makhaya Ntini, Robin Peterson, Shaun Pollock, Ashwell Prince, Roger Telemachus. Coach: Mickey Arthur.

Umpires: Mark Benson (Eng), Daryl Harper (Aus) and Third umpire: Aleem Dar (Pak)

Match Referee: Chris Broad


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