SKIPPER Kieron Pollard and his predecessor, all-rounder Jason Holder, are expected to return to the West Indies for Tuesday’s opening One Day International (ODI) against Australia.
Pollard played no part in the regional team’s recent 4-1 T20 International series win over the Aussies owing to a hamstring injury. Similarly, Holder was rested for the just concluded T20 series as part of workload management.
The pair however, have been favoured by WI coach Phil Simmons to feature in the three-match ODI series which will be contested at the Kensington Oval in Barbados.
Pollard and Holder will bring added firepower, both with the bat and ball, in hope of improving the team's recent ODI fortunes against Australia – the WI have won once (June 2016) in their last five ODIs against the Baggy Greens.
“(Pollard) should be fit. We would know that in the practice sessions over the next couple of days. Jason Holder was rested for a period of time so he will also be back,” said Simmons in an online media briefing on Sunday.
Looking back at their 3-0 ODI sweep of Sri Lanka in March, Simmons said the squad is working towards a repeat performance against the Australians.
The former WI all-rounder believes improved totals from the team's batsmen is key to setting challenging targets for the Aussies.
“We’re looking forward for the way we batted (against Sri Lanka) to continue. Improvements have to be made in the middle overs, from 20 to 39, in order for us to get from that 280 runs to 320-330 runs that we’ll need against that Australian team to be winning games.
“That’s what we’re looking forward to with the batsmen and it’s what we’ve been discussing that since the Sri Lanka series and now is time to put it into action,” he added.
Victory in the T20 series, Simmons said, does not assure victory in the 50-over version. Although some players who were part of the WI T20 team (Pollard, Fabian Allen, Darren Bravo, Sheldon Cottrell, Shimron Hetmyer, Akeal Hosein, Evin Lewis and Nicholas Pooran) were selected for the ODI series, Simmons believes the Australians will be coming even harder this around to atone for their poor showing in the T20 matches at the Darren Sammy Cricket Ground in St Lucia.
“Because there’s a number of players from the T20 squad in this (ODI) team, some momentum can be taken over. But because it’s a different format we have other guys coming in and we have to settle and play.
“The way this format needs to be played is that there needs to be a lot bigger partnerships. There can be a little of momentum because of the number of players crossing the formats,” he said.
The coach insisted that his team would be going for nothing less than an ODI series victory.
Currently, Australia’s batting is not that experienced as compared to their previous 50-over squads, with key players David Warner, Steve Smith, Glenn Maxwell and Marcus Stoinis either unavailable or injured. Simmons aims to capitalise on this but remains vigilant of Australia's ability to perform under pressure.
“Three wins is what we’re looking for. To get full points and win all three games. Australians are not going to be an easy target. They are well in all formats.
“They are going to be coming stronger especially after losing the T20 series. We’ve got to make sure that we continue and add to where we finished against Sri Lanka,” he continued.
Simmons added that the willingness and the hunger to win cricket matches for the region remains the driving force of his men to keep rallying through.
He closed, “The important thing in this format is that it’s a point basis and these three games have points branded to them. From that point of view, that’s the only motivation you need in this case. It’s points and it’s leading up to World Cup 2023.”