Gibson says third ODI a big ‘final’ for West Windies
ST JOHN'S, Antigua (CMC) — West Indies coach Ottis Gibson has branded tomorrow's decisive third One-Day International against England as a virtual final, and says he expects the regional side to treat the game with that level of importance.
The hosts went down by three wickets in the second ODI on Sunday at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium, two days after claiming an exciting 13-run victory in the first contest.
"We're building towards the 2015 World Cup and we've got to look at this game as such. This could be the World Cup final for us, so we've to get our 'final faces' on ... and come out on Wednesday and approach it in that way," Gibson said.
"We're one game away from winning a series against a team ranked higher than us, which is a good achievement, so there's all to play for and hopefully the guys are up for it on Wednesday."
West Indies were always up against it on Sunday after they were dismissed for 159 off 44.2 overs, after being sent in by England. Only Lendl Simmons with a top score of 70 got past 20, as the Windies batting struggled for the second straight game.
Simmons inspired two partnerships - 51 with Darren Bravo (13) for the fourth wicket, and a further 52 for the fifth wicket with captain Dwayne Bravo (20) - to pull West Indies around from 30 for three in the ninth over.
However, once captain Bravo fell, the hosts lost their last six wickets for 26 runs, as left-arm spinner Stephen Parry (3-32) and off-spinner James Tredwell (2-39) got stuck into the lower order.
Simmons' half-century followed up his 65 in Friday's first ODI and Gibson singled him out for praise.
"He has played very well. He's done the job and it has always been sort of a restoration job trying to repair the damage that's been done at the top," Gibson noted.
"He usually opens but is batting in the middle order and he's really holding up the middle order as he showed in the last two games. They've been two really good innings. He will look at it and think he could've turned one of those fifties into a hundred and then that gets us to 220 (in the second ODI) and it's a different story.
"I'm really pleased with how he's playing and hopefully that form continues through the next match and into the T20s."
West Indies scented victory when they reduced England to 105 for seven, thanks to two-wicket hauls from left-arm spinner Nikita Miller and seamer Dwayne Bravo.
Off-spinner Sunil Narine was brilliant, conceding just 25 runs from his 10 overs and grabbing the vital wicket of Luke Wright, but the experience of Ravi Bopara (38 not out) and captain Stuart Broad (28 not out) saw the visitors home.
"One-sixty was never really going to be enough, but the guys fought really hard. It was a gallant effort to try and defend that 160 and to get them seven [wickets] down," Gibson acknowledged.
"Even then we had a couple of chances to get Broad out and that would have changed the game and tilted it in our favour, but that wasn't to be. The way the guys fought was pleasing.
"It was a good idea to bring in Nikita after we saw the way the pitch played in the first game. There was not a lot of massive turn, but it was slow, so Nikita came in and bowled very well and Sunil - he's the number one bowler in the world in this format. He didn't get the wickets he deserved today, he beat the bat a lot and tried really hard to bowl us to victory but it wasn't meant to be.
"He bowled well, Nikita bowled well also coming in for his first game and I also thought the seamers bowled well. Like I said, it was a really good effort to try and defend that low score."