Chris Gayle will be eyeing another record when West Indies and Afghanistan get the chance to exit the Cricket World Cup on a high note at Headingley on Thursday.

The Windies are guaranteed to finish second-bottom of the group above winless Afghanistan regardless of the result in Leeds.

Jason Holder's side started the tournament by hammering Pakistan but have not won since that seven-wicket success at Trent Bridge at the end of May.

Afghanistan have lost all eight matches and will be looking for only their second World Cup victory at the venue where they ran Pakistan close on Saturday.

Chris Gayle needs 18 runs to break Brian Lara's record for the most ODI runs scored by a West Indies player in what will be his final World Cup match - and possibly his last ODI. 

The Windies have lost six consecutive matches and will be desperate to bring that run to an end in their first World Cup clash with Afghanistan.

 

TOURNAMENT SO FAR

The men from the Caribbean looked the real deal when they thumped Pakistan in Nottingham, but their slight semi-final hopes were ended with a big defeat to India at Old Trafford last Thursday. Sri Lanka then consigned them to a 23-run loss on Monday despite a Nicholas Pooran century.

A lack of runs has cost Afghanistan, who were agonisingly close to defeating India at the Rose Bowl and threatened to upset Pakistan but were unable to finish off the job.

 

WHAT THEY SAID

West Indies Assistant coach Roddy Estwick: "Obviously we're not happy losing games. But we started to build something, and once we can remain patient, we can keep building. Young players are coming through, and once that keeps happening then things will get a lot better."

Afghanistan Captain Gulbadin Naib: "We played last four, five games quite well. I'm happy with the performance of the team. It's all depending on our batting strength: if you've not batted well, maybe it's difficult for bowlers to defend a small total."

 

OPTA FACTS

- Afghanistan have won three of their previous four completed ODIs against West Indies, including two World Cup qualifiers in Harare last year.

- West Indies have played five ODIs at Headingley, losing three and winning two of those matches.

- Gayle is set to play his 295th ODI, equalling Brian Lara for joint-most caps in the history of the format for the Windies.

Mushtaq Ahmed believes England spinners Adil Rashid and Moeen Ali are ready to be match winners for the Cricket World Cup hosts.

Neither man has been at his most effective in the tournament to date, Rashid claiming seven wickets and Ali five.

But former Pakistan spinner Mushtaq, who worked with the pair as part of England's backroom staff in the past and now enjoys a role with West Indies, admires their qualities.

"They're good cricketers. They're match winners, Moeen and Adil," Mushtaq told Omnisport.

"Since they've been playing for England in one-day cricket and also Test cricket, Moeen Ali has gotten lots of wickets, and Adil also.

"Since they've been playing together, I can see England become a number one team, because in the middle overs they get lots of wickets, and they control the game in the middle overs, so I think they're both playing a huge role for England."

Mushtaq, who had spells in county cricket with Somerset, Surrey and Sussex, played 144 ODIs and 52 Tests for Pakistan in an international career that ran from 1990 to 2003.

He was frustrated by West Indies failing to produce at the World Cup, where they have won just once in eight matches and finish off against Afghanistan on Thursday at Headingley.

"I think we just didn't catch that moment where you close the game," said Mushtaq, speaking at the Pakistan Cricket Legends Tour in association with Penny Appeal.

"You know, we could actually win a few of the games like against New Zealand and against Australia. The things that were actually supposed to be winning situations we actually lost that period, lost those key points.

"So I think with the West Indies, obviously there were a few new guys in, there's plenty of things we have to discuss about that. When they played that first game against Pakistan, they seemed like they could be one of the four teams who are going to qualify for the semi-final.

"But obviously there's plenty of things to improve. They've got plenty of talent, but you've got to close that moment where you are actually nearly winning the game. So, we missed that opportunity."

Mushtaq also dismissed suggestions, raised by former fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar this week, that Pakistan skipper Sarfraz Ahmed is "fat" and "unfit".

"We should respect our players," said Mushtaq, on being presented with those claims. "They're giving everything for our country, they're trying to win cricket matches for Pakistan, so sometimes they lose, sometimes they win.

"I say that as an ex-cricketer, also part of Pakistan. Please respect your cricketers, they're trying to entertain you, they're trying to win games for Pakistan. If they don't, keep supporting your Pakistani heroes. They're the people who actually go and express themselves and they sacrifice a lot for Pakistan."

West Indies bowling legend Curtly Ambrose believes a new generation of cricketers must lose the label of ‘power hitting team’ if they are to take another major step in a positive direction.

Heading into the ongoing ICC World Cup, the Windies were picked as a dark horse by pundits and fans alike, in part due to a powerful batting line.  Several disappointing performances at the crease later, however, the regional team failed to live up to the promise of a truly powerful batting display.  

Despite boasting a few inexperienced players, however, Ambrose believes the team’s issues are down to the ‘boundary first’ mentality of several players.

“It’s not the experience and it’s not technique.  I don’t think there is anything wrong with their skills.  I have said before and I will continue to say that they need to put some more thought into their cricket,” Ambrose told BBC Sound.

If they can think situations through a little bit better they can get over that last hurdle,” he added.

“You have to respect good bowling at times…they have this notion that they are power hitters and they can hit boundaries.  Even if the bowling is really good they sill believe they can blast their way out.  That’s not how cricket is played, you have to respect good bowling.  You wait and you keep the ones and twos going, which they don’t do often.

So when they are not getting the boundaries they are not getting the ones and twos.  So they try even harder to get the boundaries and keep getting out.”

Windies bowling legend Curtly Ambrose has dismissed the idea of veteran batsman Chris Gayle playing what would amount to a farewell Test series against India next month.

The 39-year-old Windies talisman was expected to announce his retirement from international cricket following the ICC World Cup.  The big left-hander, however, seemed to have a change of heart during the tournament and targeted India’s tour of the West Indies as his final appearance.

Never one to shy away from speaking his mind, Ambrose has flatly rejected any type of sentimental appearance for the opener.

“Let me tell you something, one word; nonsense,” Ambrose said of Gayle’s plans for going beyond the World Cup.

Despite scoring 7,214 Test runs, which puts him eighth on the all-time list, and notching two triple centuries, Gayle has not made a Test appearance for the West Indies since 2014.

“He hasn’t played Test cricket for five years and he can barely make it in a One Day International, with long periods in the field.  A Test match is five days, six hours every day and he hasn’t does it for five years,” Ambrose told BBC Sounds.

“What kind of message would it send to one of the opening batsmen? ‘It’s a farewell game for Chris Gayle so sit this one out’ - that is utter nonsense,” he added.

“He should bow out of this World Cup gracefully. He’s done extremely well for West Indies in world cricket, but you bow out. Move forward.”

 

 

 

It was like West Indies skipper Jason Holder was discovering a surprise gift, hearing the news Chris Gayle planned to play on after the World Cup. 

Angelo Mathews put his body on the line at The Riverside to turn the tide in Sri Lanka's thrilling Cricket World Cup win over West Indies, earning warm praise from captain Dimuth Karunaratne.

Having reduced the Windies to 84-4 in defence of their 338-6 in a dead rubber in Durham, Sri Lanka were given a major scare by Nicholas Pooran's defiant century.

His apparent one-man victory march was not halted until the 48th over, when Mathews bowled his first ball in ODIs since December 2017 and had Pooran caught behind.

With fitness concerns having kept him from bowling, it was a timely and heroic intervention from Mathews that did not go unnoticed by Karunaratne.

"Angelo put his hands up and said, 'okay I will bowl two overs'. He has that confidence. He did the job," said the Sri Lanka skipper after his side's 23-run triumph.

"I don't think he is going to bowl much more but if it is a crucial time he might bowl a couple of overs."

Avishka Fernando's maiden ODI century had laid the platform for Sri Lanka, whose exit from the competition was confirmed when hosts England beat India on Sunday.

Despite his side failing to reach the semi-finals, Karunaratne did not have a hard time finding the positives after Monday's result.

"To win any match is a great feeling," he said. "It gives us lots of confidence. All of the players are doing really well. That is what I was expecting as a captain."

In contrast, opposite number Jason Holder was left to reflect on a miserable campaign for the Windies, who have not tasted victory since thrashing Pakistan in their group-stage opener back in May.

This was their sixth defeat in eight outings, with only Afghanistan – who they face in their final game – faring worse.

"We have just got to be better," said Holder. "We've let some key moments slip in this World Cup.

"I thought their score was on par. Fernando batted well – showed us things get easier if you stay in. Pooran was excellent too.

"I thought we finished our bowling well, but our fielding let us down. We just want to play the perfect game next time."

Angelo Mathews' timely bowling cameo proved crucial as an Avishka Fernando-inspired Sri Lanka fought off a spirited West Indies response in an entertaining Cricket World Cup dead rubber at The Riverside. 

Sri Lanka must beat West Indies at Chester-le-Street on Monday to keep their slim hopes of reaching the Cricket World Cup semi-finals alive.

A 125-run drubbing against India at Old Trafford on Thursday guaranteed the Windies will not feature in the last four.

Sri Lanka are unlikely to qualify, but they will still be just about alive if they defeat Jason Holder's men at the Riverside.

Dimuth Karunaratne's side went down by nine wickets in their clash with South Africa at the same venue on Friday, paying the price for a poor effort with the bat.

Seamer Kasun Rajitha has been added to Sri Lanka's squad with two group games remaining after Nuwan Pradeep was ruled out with chickenpox.

The Windies crumbled to only 143 in their encounter with Virat Kohli's side to bow out with a whimper.

TOURNAMENT SO FAR

Sri Lanka suffered a 10-wicket thrashing at the hands of New Zealand in their first game of the tournament and have lost three times, but claimed a surprise win over England after seeing off Afghanistan.

The Windies' crushing seven-wicket win over Pakistan proved to be a false dawn and a heavy defeat to India in Manchester was their fifth of the World Cup, knocking them out.

 

WHAT THEY SAID

Sri Lanka captain Karunaratne: "I think the batting is the main problem. We couldn't get a hundred. If you want to compete with the good sides, you have definitely got to have a good batting line-up and you have to put runs on the board, so I think in this World Cup, the major issue is the batting line-up."

West Indies head coach Floyd Reifer: "Yes, we are out of the World Cup, but there is still a lot of cricket to play after the World Cup. It's important for us to, you know, find the winning ways and find the winning formula going forward, so it is important for us to play this game as hard as possible."

 

OPTA FACTS

- Sri Lanka have won five of their last six ODI clashes against West Indies, including a nail-biting one-run victory in their last meeting in November 2016.

- Sheldon Cottrell will be the only player featuring in this fixture to have taken 10 or more wickets in the competition and the paceman will be facing Sri Lanka for the first time.

- West Indies have lost their last five ODIs. The last time they lost more was an eight-game streak in their final eight matches in 2017.

Poor performances at the ICC World Cup from outsiders, the West Indies, who were eliminated as contenders for a semi-final position earlier this week, have reverted to their pre-competition position at number nine on the latest ICC rankings. 

West Indies interim coach Floyd Reifer has called on the team to play for pride as it closes out its remaining ICC World Cup fixtures against Sri Lanka and Afghanistan.

The Windies were officially eliminated from the tournament following an embarrassing 125 runs loss to India on Thursday.  It was, however, far from the team’s only disappointing result.

After a solid start against Pakistan, the Windies went on to suffer losses to Australia, England, Bangladesh, New Zealand and India.  The contest against England and Bangladesh also proved to be lopsided with 7 and 8 wicket losses.

With two fixtures remaining in an ultimately disappointing tournament, Reifer hopes the team will finish strong.

"We had some frank discussions about the World Cup that we've had and we'll try to finish the tournament as a strong unit now," he said. "We are still playing for pride, we know that ... people back home in the Caribbean are backing us and we are representing them here. "This is about our journey, there is cricket after this World Cup and we need to find that winning formula and culture again,” he added.

“The guys bowled well against India and the fielding was much improved but it's about getting all three departments working together to win cricket games.”

 

 

Kemar Roach says West Indies must take a long, hard look at themselves after their Cricket World Cup failure but feels the future is still bright for Jason Holder's side.

The Windies' hopes of qualifying for the semi-finals were dashed when India consigned them to a chastening 125-run defeat at Old Trafford on Thursday.

India posted 268-7 after Virat Kohli won the toss on a glorious day in Manchester, the captain making 72 and MS Dhoni 56 not out.

The hostile Roach (3-36) was the pick of the Windies bowlers, with excellent support from Sheldon Cottrell (2-50) and captain Jason Holder (2-33).

Holder's men collapsed from 71-2 to 143 all out in reply, paying the price for a lack of application - Mohammed Shami doing much of the damage with outstanding figures of 4-16.

Paceman Roach says the Windies must learn their lessons after falling short in the tournament.

"All the bowlers bowled well. To restrict India for 260 is always going to be good," he told the media.

"They're a quality batting line-up, some world-class players on their team. And I think 260 on that pitch was, for me, [was] below par. But it was just not our day for the batsmen. So we go look at ourselves deeply and obviously move forward."

He added: "I think we have a bright future. We have some quality players around. [Shimron] Hetmyer and Oshane [Thomas], the younger guys, once they get some good guidance, they'll do well for West Indies.

"And I'm confident in the guys. I'll always be a fan of West Indies cricket for sure. And there's no doubt about it.

"It's all a good future for us. There's a couple of guys back home doing well as well. So hopefully we'll see these guys filter into the West Indies team in the probably near future."

Shimron Hetmyer strode to the wicket wearing a beaming smile in a Richie Richardson-style floppy sun hat, but trudged off disconsolately with West Indies heading out of the Cricket World Cup.

It was the India players and their magnificent, passionate fans who were grinning from ear to ear as they eased to a crushing 125-run win on a glorious Thursday at Old Trafford.

The Windies needed a win to have any hope of qualifying for the semi-finals, but bowed out with a whimper after collapsing to 143 all out having been set a target of 269 in Manchester.

While unbeaten India are almost certainly bound for the last four and will take some beating, the Windies selectors have some big decisions to make.

Hetmyer's approach to the middle and his time at the crease just about summed things up for Jason Holder's men.

Great entertainers when at their best, blessed with natural talent in abundance but lacking the application to give themselves a chance of making a serious impact in the tournament.

Hetmyer certainly looked the part in a wide-brimmed maroon hat, donned by the likes of the classy Richardson and Carl Hooper back in the day.

The gifted left-handed batsman was clearly trying to make a statement, but soon called for the helmet as brilliant India turned up the heat on the Windies with the sun beating down.

There was uncertainty throughout a poor run chase, which saw the men from the Caribbean crumble from 71-2, Sunil Ambris - playing his first match of the tournament - top scoring with only 31 as Mohammed Shami took 4-16 following his hat-trick heroics against Afghanistan.

While Hetmyer and Nicholas Pooran are the future for West Indies, Chris Gayle looked like a man coming to the end of his international career.

Gayle stated on the eve of the match that he had backtracked on his intention to retire from ODIs after the World Cup and plans to resume his Test career against India next month, but the selectors must look at the bigger picture. 

They must also ask themselves why Kemar Roach has only played three World Cup matches after the quick was the pick of the bowlers with 3-36.

Prolific skipper Virat Kohli (72) and former captain MS Dhoni (56 not out) whipped an already raucous army of India fans into a frenzy and the Windies were unable to silence them.

Dhoni capitalised on a missed stumping and being dropped, conjuring up a late onslaught which thousands had turned up in the hope of witnessing.

Kohli sauntered casually over the outfield for the team bus very much heading in the right direction, while the wheels came off for West Indies and they are in need of some repair work.

Virat Kohli heaped praise on MS Dhoni after India inflicted a heavy defeat on West Indies at Old Trafford.

India's 125-run win all but confirmed a Cricket World Cup semi-final spot for Kohli's unbeaten side and ended West Indies' hopes of reaching the last four.

Captain Kohli was man of the match after a gritty 72 and Dhoni made useful runs. The wicketkeeper-batsman's unbeaten 56 contained two sixes in the final over of India's innings, while Hardik Pandya also scored 46.

The Caribbean side then folded with the bat, following India's 268-7 with a feeble 143 all out.

Kohli said: "We've just become number one as far as the rankings are concerned and, to be honest, we've been playing like that for a while now. I think the key is to continue the same way.

"Things haven't gone our way with the bat in the last two games but we've still found a way to win. That to me is a very pleasing thing and I'm happy I could contribute as well.

"Today, getting to 270 was crucial. I think Hardik played outstandingly well and MS finished very strongly.

"When those two play like that we always get to a winning total and on that kind of wicket 270 was always going to be a very, very difficult score to chase."

Speaking about Dhoni, Kohli said: "He knows what he wants to do out in the middle. He's won us so many games and the best thing about having someone like him is when you need that extra 15, 20 runs he knows exactly how to get them for the team.

"Keeping strike at the end and finishing off with two big sixes was something that gave us a lot of boosts as a team.

"His experience eight out of 10 times has come good for us. He's a legend of the game, we all know that, and he's doing a tremendous job for us and hopefully he can continue."

West Indies skipper Jason Holder said: "I thought the bowlers did a fantastic job and I couldn't really ask them for more, and the guys gave a really good effort in the field. I guess we just let ourselves down with the bat."

Holder believes that was a theme reflected throughout the World Cup, as he analysed where it went wrong for West Indies.

"We let ourselves down significantly," Holder said. "I don't think we seized the crucial moments in this tournament as well as we should have.

"I thought the bowlers had a reasonable campaign and everything we asked of them they came out and delivered.

"We didn't really support as well as we'd have liked in the field, in fact we let ourselves down tremendously in the field, and some of our batting was just too inconsistent."

India's bowlers ripped through West Indies to seal a 125-run win at Old Trafford that all but confirms a Cricket World Cup semi-final spot for Virat Kohli's unbeaten side.

Kohli (72) and MS Dhoni (56 not out) both hit half-centuries as India, who won the toss and elected to bat, made 268-7, with Jason Holder's 46 dot balls in his 10 overs helping to keep the total down.

West Indies lost Chris Gayle when they had just 10 on the board and wickets fell at regular intervals after Sunil Ambris, who top-scored with 31 having been drafted in for his first appearance of the tournament, was out to leave his team 71-3.

India took the final eight wickets for just 72 runs, Jasprit Bumrah (2-9) striking with back-to-back deliveries before missing the chance to replicate Mohammed Shami's brilliant final-over hat-trick against Afghanistan.

Shami (4-16) was the pick of the India attack once again as West Indies were dismissed for 143 to see their slim semi-final aspirations ended.

India next face England at Edgbaston on Sunday and one victory from their remaining three fixtures will ensure they make the last four.

ANOTHER KOHLI MILESTONE HIGHLIGHTS BATTING EFFORT

Another day, another landmark for Kohli.

Having beaten Sachin Tendulkar's record to become the quickest man to reach 11,000 ODI runs in the win over Pakistan at the same venue, Kohli made history again at Old Trafford, reaching 20,000 international runs in all formats quicker than anyone else.

Kohli did that with his 37th run in his 417th inning, going on to make his fourth successive half-century in this World Cup before pulling a half-tracker from Holder to Darren Bravo at midwicket.

That left India 180-5 in the 39th over and though Dhoni initially struggled and should have been stumped when on seven, he picked up the pace towards the end, reaching his 50 in the final over and then smashing the last ball for his second maximum to set West Indies 269 to win.

GAYLE SUMS UP WINDIES WOE

A day after he had hinted at shelving his retirement plans, Gayle produced an innings that suggested he should stick with his initial idea to hang up his batting gloves.

The self-proclaimed 'Universe Boss' had said he was "definitely up there with the greats, without a doubt" at his pre-match press conference, though he looked anything but when meekly pulling Shami to Kedar Jadhav at mid on to exit after 19 balls.

Four of Gayle's six runs came from an inside edge where he was fortunate not to play on and his struggles epitomised West Indies' woes, with only five batsmen reaching double figures, two of which were tailenders Kemar Roach (14 not out) and Sheldon Cottrell (10).

It was a disappointing end for a team that had promised so much when hammering Pakistan in their opening game.

West Indies legend Everton Weekes is expected to be discharged from hospital in the coming days after suffering a heart attack overnight.

The 94-year-old, who scored 4,455 Test runs at a superb average of 58.61, is recovering in Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Bridgetown.

Omnisport understands that Weekes' condition is not as serious as first feared.

Weekes is regarded as one of the finest cricketers of all-time, having made 15 hundreds in the longest format and 19 half-centuries after making his debut in 1948.

The Barbados native is the only man to score five consecutive Test centuries - an incredible feat he accomplished against India in 1948 and 1949.

Weekes, Frank Worrell and Clyde Walcott became known as the 'Three Ws'.

Brian Lara, another Windies great, on Tuesday allayed concerns about his own health after taking himself to hospital with chest pains.

 

 

 

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