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‘Pressure is always there when you’re playing a WC at home’ – Powell

West Indies captain Rovman Powell has acknowledged the presence of pressure for his side given they are playing a World Cup at home. However, ahead of their final group game against Afghanistan at St.Lucia, Powell has also revealed that he is pleased with the progress West Indies have been making in this format over the last year or so.

“I think pressure is always there, especially when you’re playing a World Cup at home,” Powell said. “Pressure is always there, but it’s for us as individuals to manage those pressures. And I think for me as captain, when I started this journey 12 or 14 months ago, when I took over as captain, we were at eight or nine in the ranking. To see us at number three now in the world is a pleasing feeling. And it shows that not just myself, but the players are coming together and we’re doing something right. I’ve never played in a West Indies team that is ranked number three in the world. So that for me is something special and hopefully, just hopefully, we can continue to climb those rankings.”

With different players from the side getting an opportunity to play in front of their home crowd, it is now the turn of opener Johnson Charles. The opener has been searching for some form like most batters in this tournament so far but Powell has revealed that he will be backed to come good. “It’s just a case of us telling him to be Johnson Charles, be his natural self,” Powell said. “If he’s an aggressive player, we expect him to play aggressive. But with that aggression, we know at some point he will fail and at some point, he will come good. So, it’s for us now to support him, it’s for us now to give him that additional backing that he needs and I think everyone is behind him to come good tomorrow or when he gets the opportunity in the future games.”

Powell also expressed his delight at having an opportunity to play at this venue which has been batter friendly, something that’s been rare in this tournament. “When we look on the schedule all the batters were excited to come to St. Lucia,” he pointed out. “Traditionally St. Lucia has been a place where batters like to bat. But it’s also an opportunity for bowlers to bowl good spells here, especially the fast bowlers. We think that St. Lucia offer 60 – 40 in terms of, from a batting perspective, to bowl. And so, if you are a bowler, or if you are a batter, you definitely can get something out of the St. Lucia wicket.”

Meanwhile, Afghanistan head coach Jonathan Trott has rubbished claims of this being a dead rubber. With both Afghanistan and West Indies already securing their Super 8 berth, the result will have no bearing. However, the former England batter has urged the players to play for ‘pride’ and ‘momentum’. “I said to them, one day if you look back and you were a youngster and I said you were going to play against the West Indies in St. Lucia in a World Cup, you would have bitten someone’s hand or for that opportunity,” he said.

“So don’t let this opportunity pass you by just because it’s not going to, there’s nothing on the line with regards to qualification, doesn’t mean anything. Pride playing for your country and your nation. That’s why every cricketer is here. And making sure that we do ourselves justice, individually and as a group, but also people proud that have helped us on this journey to get us here. So, there’s plenty to play for. And then momentum, as you said, going into the Super 8s.”

Trott also spoke of the experience some of his players earned playing in the IPL which will help them embrace the pressures of a high-stake T20 game. “I think the more exposure players have got to the IPL and different franchises where there’s pressure all the time in this format of the game, I think that’ll only do us well and serve us well going forward,” he observed.

“I know that the players – and we had a lot of players at the IPL every time they come back, I can see a little bit of a difference or a change every time they go away to franchise good and bad changes. It’s just about you know holding on to those good ones and you know making sure that we address things that need to be addressed. So, the guys are ready, we just had a really good training session There was a lot of focus there. I know the boys take a lot of pride in representing their country. So tomorrow, we’ll be on it.”

Trott also heaped praise for West Indies, who have had momentum going into this contest. “The West Indies side is very dangerous,” he remarked. “We saw the way they played against New Zealand, we saw how they beat South Africa in a series. And they’ve certainly been playing a lot of good white ball cricket recently, so we know it’s going to be a great test and a great match tomorrow. And I’m fully expecting [it to be a good crowd here supporting the West Indies side and that’s what makes World Cups great, is playing in front of great crowds and a good venue like this as well, so we’re looking forward to it.”



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