Cricket World Cup 2019: Jason Holder fine if West Indies are viewed as underdogs against Bangladesh
Jason Holder: "We just want to get over Bangladesh and move forward." © AFP

TAUNTON: Jason Holder doesn’t need to be reminded of West Indies‘ record in ODIs against Bangladesh over the past two years, but he knew that it would be thrown at him sometime in the run-up to match 23 of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019.

Nine matches, seven wins to Bangladesh and two to West Indies. Bangladesh beat West Indies 2-1 in the Caribbean and then 2-1 at home last year. This year, Bangladesh are 3-0 against West Indies.

So when asked if he felt that Bangladesh had the upper hand in this World Cup matchup, Holder was not surprised.

“If you want to put us in the underdog category, fair enough,” he said. “We’ve played them quite a bit in the recent past and they’ve gotten the better of us in recent past. Like I said, different stage, lots at stake for this game. We’re all up for it. At this present time with five games left, I think the ball’s in our court, we’ve just got to be consistent. We’ve got to play some consistent cricket going into the back half of this tournament.”

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Not everyone gathered in the area allocated for press conferences inside the County Ground was convinced. Holder was again reminded of Bangladesh’s 7-2 record over West Indies in ODIs in the past two years, and whether they were favourites.

“I guess if you win seven over the last nine, as you said, probably, yes,” he replied. “It’s the game of cricket. We’ve all been seeing how this World Cup has panned out. There are quite a few close games. And there’s one or two upsets as well, too. So cricket is played on a day, and we’re looking to play some good cricket tomorrow.”

This match in Taunton is critical to both teams’ passage towards the semi-finals. Equal on points, two places separate West Indies (sixth) and Bangladesh (eight) on the World Cup table. Each one needs to win to stay in contention for the final four.

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West Indies opened their campaign by beating Pakistan. Bangladesh began theirs by defeating South Africa. West Indies should have beaten Australia, but didn’t. Bangladesh should have beaten New Zealand, but didn’t. Both teams were hammered by England. Both teams picked up one point from a washout.

And here they are, at the miniature County Ground in Taunton, a small town in Somerset, seeking oneupmanship against the other.

Shimron Hetmyer
Shimron Hetmyer bats during West Indies’ training session in Taunton. © AFP

West Indies are waiting until match morning to take a call on Andre Russell‘s fitness. Russell did not train on Sunday, and Holder said the management was “keeping him in cotton” until tomorrow. Holder, Darren Bravo and Evin Lewis took body blows during the net session but the skipper brushed those off as just bruises.

Lewis has managed three runs in two innings. Bravo got a duck in his only at-bat. One of the two will open with Chris Gayle on Monday. Holder isn’t too worried about the lack of productivity from the two batsmen.

“Everybody is hungry for runs. I guess a few guys haven’t gone on and capitalised on a few starts that they have got on,” he said. “Some guys haven’t really got on any starts. It’s another opportunity for them to come to the priority, to get some confidence going into the back half of this tournament. And, yeah, starting tomorrow against Bangladesh.

“It’s quite a good stage to pick up momentum as well. And we’re full confidence that we can do it. We’ve just got to take it game by game. Tomorrow is a challenge against Bangladesh, and we just want to get over Bangladesh and move forward.”

What has pleased him, in particular, is the batting of young Nicholas Pooran who is West Indies’ leading run-getter int the tournament with 137 at a strike-rate of 103.

“Pooran has been really good. I’m really pleased with his progress so far,” said Holder. “He’s shown a lot of maturity, which is really good for a young player. And he’s got quite a few shots in his locker. And it’s really good to see from a young talent. So I just want him to continue in the way he’s been going at this, I guess, for him, making a mark for himself extremely hard. He would like a hundred. So let’s hope tomorrow he steps up tomorrow and carries it deeper.”