Friday, March 18, 2011

England wait to learn World Cup fate

England face a nervous weekend sweating on their World Cup fate after dramatically keeping their hopes alive as Sri Lanka and New Zealand, already qualified, jostle Friday for Group A finishing spots.

The Ashes victors, facing a must-win match against the West Indies in Chennai on Thursday, looked to be heading home when the Caribbean side were 222 for six chasing 244 for victory.

But off-spinner James Tredwell, man-of-the-match with 4-48, had all-rounder Andre Russell lbw for 49 to spark a collapse that saw the West Indies lose their last four wickets for three runs as they were bowled out for 225.

It was yet another nail-biting finish in England's rollercoaster campaign, which has seen them tie with India, lose to both Ireland and Bangladesh but beat the Netherlands and powerful South Africa.

However, England still have to rely on other results going their way in Group B to seal their place in the last eight.

"I was buoyed by the thought we had one more opportunity to show what we could actually do in this World Cup," Strauss said.

"None of us wanted to go home tomorrow morning, and we were very motivated to not let that happen."

"We've been through some pretty tough times together this winter as a group - and we didn't want to be leaving the World Cup at this stage," Strauss added, saying the team needed to improve.

West Indies coach Ottis Gibson was upbeat despite the shattering defeat.

"We are starting to show the resilience we are going to need to beat teams like England and India on Sunday and the big boys."

West Indies will be into the last eight if South Africa beat Bangladesh on Saturday, even if they lose their final Group B match against co-hosts India on Sunday.

Should the Tigers pull off an upset win, West Indies would still go through to the knockout stages if they beat India.

All four teams in Group A - Australia, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and Pakistan - are already assured of quarter-final berths but the battle is on for positions which could be crucial as it determines opponents in the knockout round.

New Zealand were without captain Daniel Vettori and key fast bowler Kyle Mills, both ruled out through injury.

The Black Caps have emerged as the tournament's dark horses, winning their past three matches, including an emphatic 110-run victory against the talent-packed but unpredictable Pakistan.

Sri Lanka vice-captain Mahela Jayawardene said his team could not take the Kiwis lightly despite the loss of two key players for the day-night clash at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai.

"Those two guys (Vettori and Kyle) probably are the senior-most bowlers in their line-up," said Jayawardene. "But we can't take things lightly. What I have seen of New Zealand is that they always play as a unit."

New Zealand stand-in captain Ross Taylor tried to play down the absences.

"It's disappointing not to have them for the match but their absence gives an opportunity for someone else to step up and perform their role," said Taylor.

In the early match on Friday, Ryan ten Doeschate cracked a second World Cup century as the Netherlands recovered from early setbacks to post a challenging 306 against Ireland in Kolkata.

The Dutch were struggling at 53-3 after being put in to bat, but the South Africa-born ten Doeschate helped his side record their highest total of the tournament with 106 in 108 balls, with one six and 13 fours.

Ireland's left-arm spinner George Dockrell dislocated his shoulder while fielding off his own bowling and went to hospital for a check-up.

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