Cricket World Cup 2011

Eng on brink against Windies

2011-03-17 06:51
Not in form, James Anderson. (AFP)

New Delhi - Weary England could see their exhausting five-month global road trip end on Thursday when they tackle a resurgent West Indies in a do-or-die World Cup showdown.

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Victory will keep England's hopes of making the quarter-finals alive, but defeat will send their opponents, as well as India and Bangladesh, into the last eight.

England captain Andrew Strauss dismissed the effects of fatigue on a squad which has been on the road virtually non-stop since October's departure for their successful Ashes campaign.

"Fatigue is the last thing on our minds," Strauss insisted ahead of the match in Chennai.

"We know what the prize is and we are determined to make the most of our opportunity."

England have endured a rollercoaster campaign.

They defeated the Netherlands and South Africa, lost to Bangladesh and Ireland and tied with India.

They know that even a win on Thursday may not be enough if other results on Saturday and Sunday conspire against them.

Their problems have been compounded by illness suffered by Strauss, key spinner Graeme Swann and fast bowler Ajmal Shahzad.

The form of Ashes spearhead Jimmy Anderson, whose four wickets have cost 282 runs at an average of more than 70 apiece, is another distraction.

Strauss said he hoped the make-or-break nature of Thursday's contest would see England raise their game.

"We have done well in big matches over the last couple of years. The equation is very simple and this isn't a time to go into our shells - we have to go out there and take the West Indies on."

West Indies captain Darren Sammy hopes to make the most of coach Ottis Gibson's inside knowledge of England.

Gibson spent more than two years as England's bowling coach before taking charge of the West Indies in January 2010.

"He has a lot of information and has worked in a successful English team," said Sammy.

"Obviously we've been analysing the opposition. We'll be looking to go out and exploit the weaknesses.

"It's a good time to play England," added Sammy.

"They've been on the road for a long time. Apparently, they've been home for four days in five months. In order for them to stay, they've got to win...or maybe some of them will want to go home to their families."

West Indies have been bolstered for this match by the return of dynamic opening batsman Chris Gayle, who missed their 44-run win against Ireland last time out with an abdominal strain.

Unlike Group B, where only South Africa have so far assured qualification, all four qualifying spots in Group A have been wrapped up by Australia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and New Zealand.

Australia captain Ricky Ponting said he was looking forward to the champions being tested by Pakistan in their final group match in Colombo on Saturday.

Australia, bidding for a fourth straight title, made it 34 games unbeaten at the World Cup with a seven-wicket thrashing of Canada in Bangalore on Wednesday.

After restricting the North Americans to 211, Australia raced to 212 for three with more than 15 overs to spare thanks to a first-wicket stand of 183 between Shane Watson (94) and Brad Haddin (88).

"It's always a great challenge playing against Pakistan because, as everybody knows, you're just never really sure what they're going to turn up and do on the day," said Ponting.


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