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Windies, Zimbabwe out to impress

WI and Zimbabwe enter their Seven-match ODI series that begins on Saturday with plenty to prove to themselves and the rest of the world.

india Updated: Apr 28, 2006 18:58 IST

West Indies and Zimbabwe enter their seven-match limited-overs international series that begins on Saturday at the Antigua Recreation Ground with plenty to prove to themselves and the rest of the world.

West Indies are eighth on the official ICC limited-overs international rankings and will be looking to transform their fortunes in the shortened version of the game in which they have won three of their last 18 matches since winning the ICC Champions Trophy in Britain two years ago.

For Zimbabwe, ranked at ninth on the ICC list, they are looking to come out of the shadow of the players' crisis that has enveloped the game over the last few months and left their side bereft of quality and experience.

Windies captain Brian Lara recognises that the Champions Trophy win has now faded into memory.

"I think we have to accept our position in international cricket - that we are two or three from the bottom in Tests and limited-overs internationals - and I think we have to build a team accordingly that will allow us to climb back to the top of world cricket," he said.

"I think the expectation during these years of decline has been that some time we will turn the corner and we will head right back up to the top immediately.

"This has not come to fruition, but I think what we have is a group of exciting players.

"The gap between our first-class competition and international cricket is so great that some of them are not making the transformation quickly enough. This is something the selectors and the Cricket Committee will have to address to ensure that anyone playing for West Indies capable of doing so at the highest level."

Lara has called for the selection committee of the West Indies to widen the talent pool and use the Zimbabwe series to find the right combination of players, particularly ahead of the 2007 ICC World Cup in the West Indies.

"Let's test the waters with other players and see what they can do, so that for the World Cup we know we have the best possible squad," he said.

The political situation in Zimbabwe forced the cream of their crop to migrate hither, thither and yonder, then differences between the management of Zimbabwe Cricket and the players saw the departure of the remaining experienced players including former captain Tatenda Taibu.

"We have a very young side - the average age is just over 20 - because many of our players have given up over the last year, but the side we have has been hard at work over the last few weeks and they are learning very quickly," manager Andy Pycroft said.

"The biggest factor for us on this tour is to get as much experience for these lads as possible. Most of them played in our previous series against Kenya, but the Kenyans have lost a lot of players and were not the same side they were previously, when they were ranked a little below us.

"There's no doubt that we can be competitive. Our batting is little under-cooked, but there's plenty of potential there, and our bowling is very decent, so I think we can be very competitive with the West Indies."

The Zimbabweans opened the trip with back-to-back wins over Antigua and Barbuda on Monday and Tuesday, and will be hoping to carry this momentum into the first two matches against a West Indies side still trying to sort itself out under new leadership.

The two teams also play back-to-back matches at Georgetown (May 6 and 7) and Port of Spain (May 13 and 14), and in between will play the first limited-overs international under lights in the Caribbean at Gros Islet's Beausejour Stadium on May 10.

Squads:

West Indies (from): Brian Lara (captain), Ian Bradshaw, Dwayne Bravo, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Corey Collymore, Chris Gayle, Runako Morton, Denesh Ramdin, Marlon Samuels, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Dwayne Smith, Jerome Taylor.

Zimbabwe (from): Terrence Duffin (captain), Chamunorwa Chibhabha, Elton Chigumbura, Charles Coventry, Keith Dabengwa, Ryan Higgins, Anthony Ireland, Blessing Mahwire, Keegan Meth, Tawanda Mupariwa, Edward Rainsford, Piet Rinke, Vusimuzi Sibanda, Gregory Strydom, Brendan Taylor, Prosper Utseya.

Umpires: Billy Doctrove, Billy Bowden, TV Replays: Steve Bucknor, Reserve: Clancy Mack.