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. 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,” said Pollard in an official ICC release.
“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,” he added.
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. 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,” said Pollard.
“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,” he added.