England’s loss to Sri Lanka has put the cat amongst the pigeons. It has given a number of other teams, who thought their World Cup campaigns more or less over, some hope to cling on to. Given England have India, Australia and New Zealand still to play, their position as semi-finalists is in doubt. They will still fancy their chances, of course, but the defeat at least means that there might be more riding on some of the next few matches in the tournament than there otherwise might have been.
Ahead of their match against New Zealand at Old Trafford on Saturday (June 22), West Indies are one of the teams who now have slightly more hope than they had. Jason Holder’s men, despite losing three matches and being on just three points, could yet make a charge if they beat the Blackcaps and then win their remaining three matches. It’s a tough ask and they are still very much outside bets to make the semi-finals but there is hope. And hope is all they can ask for after three straight defeats.
In contrast, New Zealand almost certainly have a semi-final to plan and prepare for. There is likely to be little let-up for their players, particularly given the fierce competition within their squad. Tim Southee and Henry Nicholls, two players who were set to be in New Zealand’s first-choice eleven at the start of the tournament, suffered injuries in the warm-ups and have not been able to force their way back in since. In remaining unbeaten so far, New Zealand haven’t missed them but nobody in the eleven can be complacent.
Most of the team has functioned well and Kane Williamson, averaging 225, is operating on a plane above. The only worries are over Tom Latham, who could do with some runs, and Trent Boult, who would like a few more wickets. They have also yet to play Australia or England – and their match against India was washed out – so there will be tougher tests to come than they have faced so far.
Whereas things are hunky dory in the New Zealand camp, things are much gloomier in that of West Indies. They have been desperate in their last two games, losing heavily to England and Bangladesh. Those performances were such a contrast to the early optimism of their thrashing of Pakistan at Trent Bridge and then a good outing against Australia. That match, which they lost but should have won, was a huge missed opportunity. Their campaign has not recovered. It still can. Just.
In the defeats to England and Bangladesh, West Indies put their bowling eggs in the basket labeled “Pace, bounce and aggression.” Unfortunately.