Friday, November 24, 2017
   
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West Indies look to embrace rare day of superiority

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Crick-WIIt was in the 2015 World Cup that these teams last met - the first game of the tournament for both of them.

 

West Indies' decline as a Test force had slowly been established, but their limited-overs stocks were still highly rated. This was the team which, in its third match of the group stage, would put up 372 against Zimbabwe - all of those runs put together by Chris Gayle and Marlon Samuels in a gargantuan second-wicket partnership, with the left-hander scoring a double-century. Before that game, they had reduced Pakistan to 1 for 4 in a chase of 311. Jerome Taylor took three of those wickets.

 

These results would eventually help put West Indies through to the quarter-finals, but they came after a comprehensive loss against Ireland in that first game.

 

It's Ireland's first fixture against a Test-playing nation since acquiring Test status. Not a lot has changed for them in the last two years. Ireland's heroes from that match - in fact, their entire top seven - will almost definitely feature in the one-off ODI at Belfast on Wednesday.

 

In contrast, captain Jason Holder has been the only constant for West Indies since the teams last met. Gayle, Samuels and Taylor, who led the batting and bowling charts for them in that World Cup, haven't played together in an ODI since.

 

Still, there is a circularity about this meeting. Both of them are on the cusp of a new dawn. Ireland have fought a long battle in achieving Test status while West Indies have shown hints of no longer being haunted by the ghosts of their past glory, picking up wins in each of their last three Test series.

 

Ireland will soon be equipped with the experience of Graham Ford as head coach, while West Indies' resurgence is being shepherded by the hard-talking Stuart Law. At the core, both teams are trying to carve new identities; they are teams on the ascension, even if they're earmarked as the lower-tier population when the future of the game is discussed.

 

Neither side has quite managed to dominate anyone in ODIs of late. In that sense, their reputations remain the same. But West Indies will enjoy their chance to feel like the stronger team before they head back to England.

 

A win will simplify their requirement for direct qualification for the next World Cup: they'll need to beat England 4-1.



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