The cricket World Cup is only halfway through. Yet host West Indies can't afford to lose any more games. "This is really a desperate time for us, we need to immediately get back into winning form to stay in the tournament," team captain Brian Lara said after his team tumbled to a seven-wicket defeat against New Zealand.
It was the second heavy loss on successive days for the World Cup host, coming a day after reigning world champion Australia outplayed it by 103 runs in a rain-hit encounter that spilled over to the reserve day.
West Indies was bundled out for 177 in less than 45 overs on Thursday. New Zealand then overcame a tottering start to reach the victory target with 10 overs to spare.
West Indies carried two points forward from the preliminary round winning the game against Ireland, the second Super 8 qualifier from its group. But the home side's chances of advancing to the semifinals have been severely dented after two heavy defeats. Australia and New Zealand already have four points and have played one game fewer. England has two games in hand on the host. "We need to get into the frame of mind of winning every game from now on," said Lara, adding that West Indies would now take every game as a knockout match.
"When you get into the semifinals, you need to win two in a row to win the final, that's how we've now got to approach the remaining matches," he said. "We're down into the fighting part of the tournament."
Lara put the blame for the defeats on his batsmen. "We're not scoring significant number of runs, we've not made 250 in any of our five World Cup matches so far," said Lara, who has been batting down the order hoping to stabilize the innings if the top batsmen falter.
"I've compromised my position to come down because other guys want to bat in certain spots," Lara said, imploring his batsmen to quickly rectify their mistakes if West Indies is to stay in contention for a place in the semifinals.
"We need to apply ourselves and need to keep the belief in our ability. The guys need to be told that we've not batted well." The captain said the team could not depend on two or three batsmen to pull it through in every game.
"If we've got to win the World Cup, more than two or three guys have to get runs," he said.
After the loss to Australia, Lara tried to bolster the batting by including Lendl Simmons in place of paceman Jerome Taylor. "We had seven bowlers in the side, so tried to strengthen the batting as much as possible," Lara said.
"Our total of 177 wasn't enough even if we had 10 bowlers out there."