The ICC ODI World Cup Qualifiers are being played in Zimbabwe. A total of ten teams are contesting for the remaining two spots in the main tournament. They are divided into Group A and Group B with the West Indies leading Group A and Oman leading Group B with four points each.
What comes as a shock to cricket fans is that the West Indies have been playing qualifiers in recent years. The team contested for the spot in 2018 as well.
West Indies are credited with delivering the likes of Viv Richards and Brian Lara. The team has bagged two World Cup titles, one in 1975 and another in 1979. It was going strong in 1983, way before Kapil Dev entered the field to ruin their early celebrations. It has been almost four decades, and the West Indies have not even made it to the final stage, let alone winning a World Cup title.
They have been warm and welcoming hosts to the cricketing world in 2007. However, that is the maximum at which the line ends. The T20 format is a different format where they continue to shine with their constant attack. Briefly speaking, the West Indies won two T20 World Cup titles in 2012 and 2016.
The question has to be asked: how did the West Indies come down to a level where they had to qualify for the tournament? Not that something is bad about playing qualifiers, but a team of that stature has to go through a lot to fall to that extent.
Some say that the financial disturbances in the country contributed to the fall in the quality of their game. Others believe that the retirement of Viv Richards, along with Gordon Greenidge, Jeff Dujon, and Malcolm Marshall, led to this downfall. Most recently, everyone bid adieu to Chris Gayle, also known as the Universe Boss.
All that combined has dealt a huge blow to the sport in the West Indies. Some even call the retirements of Viv Richards and Brian Lara the end of an era.
Jumping to the current era of the West Indies cricket team, they are leading Group A with 4 points against them on the table after playing 2 games. The hosts of qualifiers follow them with an NRR of +1.126. West Indies are one of the favorites to make it to the main event, according to most of the best cricket betting sites. They have two more games left to be played against Zimbabwe and Netherlands.
Till now, West Indies have not lost a single match in the qualifiers, including two warm-up matches.
To talk about the previous game versus Nepal, the Indies came out as a strong opponent, with their skipper registering 132 runs off 129 balls. Shai Hope is no Gris Gayle and can run better to give support to the batter on the other side of the pitch. Shai has scored 4647 runs in the ODI format throughout 105 innings. His highest score is 170, with 14 more centuries on board.
Brandon King scored 32 runs in 42 balls. Kyle Mayers and Johnson Charles departed early, causing disappointment in rolling out just two runs combined. The West Indies were basically down by 2 wickets by a score of 9 runs. Nepal looked to gain control of the game, but then Shai Hope entered, and he changed the dynamics altogether. He was further supported by Nicolas Pooran, who registered 115 runs in 94 balls.
Lalit Rajbanshi picked up Shai by making him hit at the long off, where Bhim Sharki was ready to grab the catch. Pooran went back to the pavilion only after receiving a confirmation from the third umpire. Dipendra Singh Airee made the catch on his own throw. Pooran wanted to clear the covers, but Singh dived forward to take the hit.
The side went on to put up a chasing score of 339 for the loss of seven wickets. Nepal could catch up with only 238 runs in 49.4 overs, losing all their wickets without completing the remaining 2 balls.
Jason Holder and Alzarri Joseph took two wickets each at an economy of 3.40 and 4.50, respectively.
Moving forward, the West Indies will play two more matches to advance to the Super Six. The ICC ODI World Cup qualifiers will conclude on July 9, 2023. West Indies defeated the US by 39 runs in their opener. Meaning, there is enough momentum to create a room in Super Six.
Once a two-time ODI World Cup winner, the West Indies are now fighting their way to make it to the main tournament. The tables turn, hopefully with brighter days ahead for the Indies.