Windies taking nothing for granted - Holder
HARARE, Zimbabwe, (CMC):
Captain Jason Holder says that West Indies will be taking nothing for granted during the upcoming ICC World Cup Qualifiers, despite entering as the highest-ranked side.
The Caribbean side, two-time World Cup champions, are the favourites to grab one of the two remaining spots for next year's World Cup in England, especially up against the likes of minnows United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Papua New Guinea (PNG) in the preliminary round.
However, Holder said that it was important to not underestimate any of their opponents in spite of the apparent gulf in experience.
"In a tournament like this, we know the opponents will be fearless. they have nothing to lose and everything to gain," the all-rounder said.
"I believe every side in this tournament is dangerous, and we must not take any team lightly. We will take every game as a final."
West Indies arrived here last week for the March 4-25 tournament, and have been undergoing their final preparation before their campaign in Group A.
Following warm-up matches against Afghanistan and Nepal, West Indies open their bid on March 6 against UAE, who recently won the ICC World Cricket League Division Two tournament in Namibia, before taking on PNG two days later and Ireland on March 10.
They wind up their group action against the Netherlands on March 12.
Holder said that his players were all entering the tournament on the heels of the Regional Super50 and, coupling that with the upcoming warm-up matches, he expected them to be well-prepared.
"Leading up to the first match against the United Arab Emirates, we should be more than ready when that challenge comes," he pointed out.
"We have two warm-up matches before the first tournament match, so we have been preparing well. We should not be short of cricket when that first match comes around."
Windies boast the likes of veteran batsmen Chris Gayle and Marlon Samuels, who among them have played a combined 467 One-Day Internationals, and also include the youth of Shai Hope, Rovman Powell, and 20-year-old former Youth World Cup skipper, Shimron Hetmyer.
Experienced seamer Kemar Roach has been included for the trip with all-rounder Carlos Brathwaite also recalled, and Holder said that the squad possessed the quality to be successful in the tournament.
"We have a very good balance. We have guys who can bowl the new ball very well and others who can take wickets in the middle overs and finish off well," he noted.
"In our batting, we have power at the top of the order and power at the end. We also have players in the middle who can consolidate and take over when necessary."
The top three from each group will advance to the Super Sixes, where they will each play three matches against teams they did not meet in the preliminaries.
The finalists will secure the final two berths at the ICC World Cup scheduled for England next year from May 30 to July 15.