Sport

Now for the ODI

BY SANJAY MYERS Observer staff reporter myerss@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, February 23, 2014    

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Fresh from desperately squaring the two-match Twenty20 (T20) series with minnows Ireland, the West Indies will be looking to right the wrongs when they battle the visitors in a one-off One-Day International (ODI) at Sabina Park today.

The hosts' batsmen struggled to make any positive mark on a low and sluggish Sabina Park pitch in the T20 matches, and though Ireland were disappointed they failed to chase down 97 on Friday, they are likely to be the happier of the teams entering this clash, set to start at 9:30 am.

Ultimately, the game is likely to be decided by the team whose bowlers can best use subtle variations to get the most out of a batting surface that is expected to be similar to the ones seen in the T20 series.

The West Indies, coached by Ottis Gibson, have made several changes, including the resting of left-hander Christopher Gayle, who was said to have stiffness in his lower back and in his hamstring.

Dwayne Smith comes in to replace Gayle and the hope is that West Indies have shaken off the rustiness that was apparent in their previous uninspired batting displays.

Twenty20 skipper Darren Sammy, who steps aside for Dwayne Bravo to lead the 50-over team, said the West Indies batsmen have to learn from the embarrassment they suffered in the low-scoring T20 matches.

He added that the flip of the coin could have a major impact on the outcome of the match.

"On Sunday the One-Day captain takes over, and yes, what will not change is the condition of the pitch and it's an even earlier start, so the pitch will have more moisture and we know Sabina, so whichever team that wins the toss will bowl first.

"We just have to show that we have learnt from these two games. As a group we've always talked about showing improvement in whatever we do and Sunday will be another opportunity for us as a batting group to go out there and show that we learned," Sammy told the Jamaica Observer.

The Phil Simmons-coached Ireland, rueing that they missed the chance to complete their first series victory against a Test playing outfit, will know that a 50-over contest poses a slightly different challenge than the smash and grab nature of T20 cricket.

Playing as an invited team in the recent Regional Super50 tournament, they lost two games and won one to be eliminated at the group stage.

Their captain William Porterfield, who is struggling for form at the top of the innings, noted the role the pitch could play, but said that, even more important, will be the way his team adjusts to the 50-over format.

"It was slightly slow and I think both sets of bowlers adjusted to that very well [and] changed [slowed] their pace. Whatever pitch comes in front of us on Sunday we are going to have to adjust with both ball and bat.

"We have to show a lot of application because jumping from 20 overs to 50 overs is a big difference. I think we showed that on our day we can beat a top team, so we are going in looking to win. It took a bit of adjusting to pitches here, but now there's no excuse," the Irish skipper said.

Ireland's last victory against a Full ICC Member in ODI cricket came against England in the 2011 World Cup.

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