The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Troubled NZ face resurgent Windies

Port Elizabeth: After a 47-run loss to Sri Lanka in their opening match, New Zealand face the mammoth task of beating a resurgent West Indies in Thursday’s group B match.

The West Indies are on a high after snatching a three-run victory over South Africa. Brian Lara’s century in Cape Town on Sunday have suddenly made the islanders possible contenders for a record third World Cup, which they won in 1975 and 1979.

For New Zealand, it has always been the case of so near yet so far. They reached the World Cup semi-finals in 1975, 1979, 1992 and 1999 as well as the quarter finals in 1996. But a defeat against the West Indies may mean an early ticket back home for the Black Caps, who have been touted as the dark horses.

A second defeat may also force New Zealand to rethink their decision not to travel to Nairobi to play Kenya because of security fears. Forfeiting their match will mean a loss of four more valuable points.

Monday’s performance raised serious doubts about the Black Caps’ batting — Nathan Astle was out for a duck, Fleming one and Craig McMillan three. Only Scott Styris’ 141 redeemed the side.

Allrounder Chris Cairns will be asked to bowl for the first time in a year to rescue New Zealand’s campaign on Thursday. He has not bowled because of a series of niggling injuries, but with the Black Caps needing a win, he will turn his arm over.

West Indies coach Roger Harper is demanding a better bowling performance. “I thought in bowling we could have been a little more precise and we could also have been a little sharper in the field,” he said.

He made bowlers practice Tuesday using three plastic bottles placed at yorker length.

Harper said that despite that victory, the team was not getting carried away. “This is a crucial one, not only in terms of getting to the Super Six but going beyond that because the points garnered could be very important.”

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