West Indies up­beat ahead of start to ti­tle de­fence

Daily Observer (Jamaica) - - SPORT -

GE­ORGE­TOWN, Guyana (CMC) — Ti­tle hold­ers West Indies will take the first step in their anx­iously an­tic­i­pated de­fence of the ICC Women’s Twenty20 World Cup when they clash with Bangladesh tonight.

The hosts have al­ready been in­stalled as heavy favourites to beat the min­nows in the Group A con­test, the head­line match of a triple-header at the Guyana Na­tional Sta­dium.

New Zealand clash with In­dia in the open­ing match at 11:00 am, three­time cham­pi­ons Aus­tralia do bat­tle with Pak­istan at 4:00 pm, be­fore West Indies take cen­tre stage in the 8:00 pm mar­quee en­counter.

Cap­tain Stafanie Tay­lor told re­porters yes­ter­day her charges were tak­ing noth­ing for granted, es­pe­cially with the Windies ex­pected to be the hunted side in the tour­na­ment.

“[It’s] not just [the fact we’re] play­ing at home or be­ing de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons. I just be­lieve as West Indies what we bring to the ta­ble we do get that — peo­ple com­ing after us — be­cause peo­ple have West Indies as one of the teams to beat,” Tay­lor said.

“So take away the fact that we’re at the World Cup, if we go any­where West Indies are al­ways one of the teams to beat.

“So yes, there’s a bit of pres­sure, a bit of ex­pec­ta­tion. I think it’s just how we man­age that, and I’m try­ing to man­age that within the group and just think about our game and how we want to play, and just go out there and play our style of cricket.”

The event is a his­toric one as it marks the first ICC women’s stand-alone T20 World Cup, after the pre­vi­ous tour­na­ments were staged along­side the men’s.

West Indies have been in­stalled in Group A along­side the likes of Eng­land, South Africa and Sri Lanka, while Group B com­prises Aus­tralia, In­dia, New Zealand, Pak­istan and Ire­land.

The Caribbean side won their maiden ti­tle in In­dia two years ago when they stunned the Aussies in the fi­nal in Kolkata, and Tay­lor said a suc­cess­ful ti­tle de­fence would be strength­ened by the fact the Windies pos­sessed home ad­van­tage.

“I think it does mat­ter. When we’re play­ing at home, we know the con­di­tions very, very well and I think that does give us an edge over all the teams,” Tay­lor con­tended.

“But say­ing that, ev­ery­one is here to win that tro­phy and I know ev­ery­one will play hard, just like how we’re go­ing to play.”

She added: “Prov­i­dence (sta­dium) is fairly new and what we would have seen last night [in the warm-up match] is pretty much what we ex­pect and I don’t be­lieve it will change so much.

“We’re play­ing in the night so when you think about the con­di­tions [it will be] dew for both teams, but I think the team that will bowl last might be the worse [off] but we just have to go out there and try to do what we can and play what we see.”

Since their T20 World Cup con­quest, the Windies have had a bit of a mixed bag, win­ning eight of 16 matches. They white­washed In­dia 3-0 away and Sri Lanka at home be­fore suf­fer­ing their own white­wash when they were clob­bered 4-0 in New Zealand.

They were held to a 2-2 draw in a five-match se­ries by the Proteas last Septem­ber — a se­ries many thought they should have won — but Tay­lor said there had been a few pos­i­tives de­spite the re­sult.

“The fact that Hay­ley Matthews scored a hun­dred, I think that was a big plus in the group. She’s a big ta­lent com­ing through and it was good boost­ing her con­fi­dence,” she pointed out.

“I’m pretty much happy with our fit­ness level. I think as a team we may have been strug­gling in that as­pect so I be­lieve that has been good,” Tay­lor added.

West Indies have re­tained the core of their 2016 ti­tle-win­ning squad for their ti­tle de­fence, with the likes of Tay­lor, Matthews, all-rounder De­an­dra Dot­tin, for­mer Cap­tain Merissa Aguilleira, off-spin­ner Anisa Mo­hammed and fast bowler Shamilia Con­nell all ex­pected to fea­ture.

SQUAD:

WEST INDES — Stafanie Tay­lor (cap­tain), Merissa Aguilleira, She­maine Camp­belle, Shamilia Con­nell, Brit­ney Cooper, De­an­dra Dot­tin, Afy Fletcher, Qiana Joseph, Chinelle Henry, Ky­cia Knight, Hay­ley Matthews, Natasha Mclean, Anisa Mo­hammed, Chedean Na­tion, Shak­era Sel­man.

BANGLADESH — Salma Khatun (cap­tain), Ayasha Rah­man, Fahima Khatun, Far­gana Hoque Pinky, Ja­ha­nara Alam, Khadiza Tul Kubra, Lata Mon­dol, Nahida Ak­ter, Ni­gar Sul­tana Joty, Panna Ghosh, Ritu Moni, Ru­mana Ahmed, , San­jida Is­lam, Shamima Sul­tana, Sharmin Akhter Supta.

(Photo: CWI Me­dia)

TAY­LOR... we know the con­di­tions very, very well and I think that does give us an edge over all the teams

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