HashOut: 2007/03/12
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West Indies hope for a win at home

The West Indies cricket team celebrating their victory in the 2nd ODI against India in Jamica - 20 May 2006Ever since the West Indies stunningly won the ICC Champions Trophy 2004 in England, there has been optimism in the Caribbean that they could be the first host nation to win the World Cup. That optimism did not seem misplaced, as they trounced India and Zimbabwe in consecutive home series and emerged the runner-up in the Champions Trophy 2006 in India.

However, since the Champions Trophy final last October, Brian Lara's side has lost six of its last eight ODIs in separate series in Pakistan and India. Injuries to pivotal players like Ramnaresh Sarwan have also hampered its preparations.

But coach Bennett King is optimistic and believes the limited-overs format suits his side perfectly. "Any team, on its given day, can view the match," he said. He indicated that his focus is to help his side avoid the kind of catastrophic declines which characterized their performance in the Champions Trophy final. "Our bad games tend to be the ones when we don't score over 150. For better sides, their bad games are when they don't score over 250. We need to work towards this. We've been winning ODIs against really strong teams. We've just got to maintain that consistency," said King.

The dispute over contractual terms has subsided. The squad looks settled. Lara, Sarwan, Chris Gayle, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Dwayne Bravo and Corey Collymore have laid the foundation; Marlon Samuels, Dwayne Smith, Denesh ramdin, Ian Bradshaw, Daren Powell and Jerome Taylor have built on it in the last two years. The surprise package is Kieron Pollard, a hard-hitting all-rounder. The 19-year-old Trinidadian made his mark in domestic cricket when he crashed 83 runs off 38 balls against Nevis in the inaugural Standford Twenty20 Cup final in Antigua. he distinguished himself with a century on his first-class debut against league champions Barbados and followed it up with another ton against Leeward Islands. Lendl Simmonos and Devon Smith, too, are quality batsmen.
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The young and old of cricket World Cup

The youngest player to appear in the World Cup was Talha Jubair of Bangladesh. He was 17 years and 70 days old when he faced the West Indies at Benoni, South Africa in 2003. The record for the oldest player goes to Nolan Clarke of The Netherlands. Clarke was a whooping 47 years and 257 days when he fought the Proteas at Rawalpindi, Pakistan in 1996. » Continue reading

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