HARARE, Zimbabwe (CMC) – All-rounder Carlos Brathwaite said West Indies’ unconvincing performances in the two warm-up matches proved a “wake-up call” for the side, leading to valuable soul-searching and a subsequent strong start to the preliminaries of ICC World Cup qualifiers.
The Caribbean side suffered a sensational defeat to Afghanistan in the opening warm-up before struggling to beat United Arab Emirates in their second outing.
However, the Windies showed little signs of lethargy in their first two preliminary games, trouncing UAE by 60 runs before downing Papua New Guinea by six wickets.
“I think the two warm-up games probably happened at the right time,” Brathwaite contended.
“I don’t think we ever under-estimated anyone. Pitches were a lot more difficult – in one of the warm-up games we got rolled [over] for 114 and defended it – so the the pitches were a lot of more difficult then but it was just a wake-up call for us.
“Are you underestimating? Are you playing to your true potential? There were a few inquests and we sat together as a group, with the coaches, without the coaches and we just kind of started to brainstorm and to find a way how we wanted to play the cricket as the West Indies senior team moving forward.”
He continued: “And not only for this tournament but to have a template as a team, moving right through this tournament and then into the series we have coming up as well. It was probably a blessing in disguise.
“We have’t yet played the two toughest teams (Ireland and the Netherlands) by the rankings so let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves but we think the way we’re playing is speaking to the template that we set out so I’m glad we’re ticking those boxes.”
West Indies and Ireland, the two remaining unbeaten sides in Group A, face each other in a key fixture at the Harare Sports Club on Saturday.
The two teams have a history with Ireland pulling off a massive upset when they they last met at the 2015 World Cup in New Zealand.
Brathwaite said the match presented the Windies with their sternest challenge to date.
“The rankings say [Ireland will be our bigget threat] but obviously cricket is played on the day,” he noted.
“I have a special affiliation with Ireland having played for Lenister, a club in Dublin. I have seen a few of the guys who were a lot younger – George Dockrell, Barry McCarthy, Andrew Balbirnie – then obviously knowing some of the older guys and their heroics in World Cups past. It’s not a team we’re going to take lightly at all as we won’t with any of the teams in the tournament.
“It should be a more challenging test – or at least the standings says it should be – so hopefully we can stick to our templates, stick to our game plans and try to execute under more pressure.”
Brathwaite also echoed the warning of his captain Jason Holder, stressing the Windies would not be taking any team lightly.
He pointed out that the challenge presented Papua New Guinea last Thursday proved it was important the two-time former World champions remained on their toes.
“A lot of people thought we would just come and roll them (PNG) over but they are very good cricketers in their own right,” he said.
“[Batsman Mahuru Dai’s innings of 35] that was probably one of the best passages of batting I’ve seen in the middle overs without trying to score boundaries …”
He added: “I don’t think we’re underestimating them but obviously because we haven’t played against them and we don’t know them, you try to learn on your feet and try to learn as quickly as possible. They are good players.” – CMC