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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 23 June 2018

Jason Holder confident West Indies will handle UAE 'challenge' in World Cup Qualifier opener

Jason Holder, the West Indies captain, is confident of his side’s prospects in their World Cup Qualifier opener on Tuesday, even if opponents UAE do play “fearless” cricket against them.

The Caribbean side won a low-scoring game when the sides met in a practice fixture last week. Holder says his team’s batsmen, which includes the likes of Chris Gayle, Evin Lewis and Marlon Samuels, have some scores to settle when the sides meet again at Old Hararians Sports Club.

“We didn’t get the runs we were looking for, and this is an opportunity for our batsmen to put those wrong things right in this game,” Holder said. “Hopefully we can get a better wicket [than when they made 115 at Harare Sports Club on Thursday]. The reports from the first game here say it seems to be a very good wicket. That is a plus for us.

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“Hopefully we can capitalise on that and our bowlers can come out and reproduce what they did in the last game. The beauty about that last game was we got early wickets, and Nikita [Miller, the left-arm spinner] was able to come in in the middle and cause havoc.

“It will be a challenge. Many of these teams are going to come really hard at us, coming with a fearless attitude, an attitude to shock the world. We have to be on our ps and qs.”

Holder says the experience of Gayle will be key to his side’s chances of progressing from the Qualifier. Gayle became the first batsman to score a double century in a World Cup match, against Zimbabwe in Canberra in 2015.

Now he is the most notable figure in the West Indies squad who are having to try to qualify for cricket’s flagship limited-overs tournament for the first time.

They are in Zimbabwe on account of being placed outside of the top eight in the one-day international rankings at the cut-off point last year.

Now they are entering unfamiliar territory, and Holder is happy to have 38-year-old opener Gayle in his ranks.

“When we have meetings, we have let guys like himself and other senior guys run it, be the head of the batting group, and filter down knowledge to the players,” Holder said.

“We try to keep it as flexible as possible. He has been really good for us, giving a lot of the youngsters suggestions as to how to go about their innings.”