West Indies will chase a series win when they face Ireland in the rescheduled second One-Day International today, even as the threat of the Covid-19 pandemic continues to hover ominously over the three-match series.
The Caribbean side pulled off a 24-run win in Saturday’s opener at Sabina Park but three Covid cases in the Ireland camp 24 hours later, forced Cricket West Indies to postpone the second ODI which had been scheduled for Tuesday.
With no further positive tests in the intervening period, the headlines appear ready to be made on the field and bowling coach Roddy Estwick said it was critical West Indies remained focused amid the off-field disruptions. “Covid has been with us now for nearly two years and obviously there are going to be disruptions, we know that,” he told an online media conference yesterday.
“We had disruptions in Pakistan [last month] and we had disruptions before. It’s all about staying professional; it’s all about making sure that when you are going to play you’re ready. The boys looked focused—obviously it’s a much younger team and people are willing to share knowledge and to find out more and having more discussions.”
Ireland lost key batter Paul Stirling to Covid before the side left Florida where they played a three-match T20 series against USA, and then had Simi Singh and Ben White ruled out when they tested positive before the first ODI. Captain Andy Balbirnie, who top-scored with 71 in Ireland’s failed pursuit of 270 in the first ODI, was one of the three to test positive following the game, along with wicketkeeper Lorcan Tucker and interim head coach David Ripley.
In spite of last week’s win and the strides made in some areas, Estwick said West Indies were still anxious to improve on their opening performance. “One of the things (we tried) was to minimise the dot balls (when we batted)—there’s no secret that we need to improve on that,” he noted. “The pitch here in Jamaica, especially in the first innings, the ball seamed around quite a bit in the morning so we were prepared not to lose too many wickets and then push on at the back end and I thought we did that well for the first ten overs.
“Then we lost our way a bit…had a very good partnership between Brooks and Pollard of 155 off 135 balls but then we lost our way [again] at the back end. So those are areas we still need to improve on. We have to make sure that when we have the momentum we have to keep the momentum.” He continued: “I think the running between the wickets has gotten better…so there are encouraging signs but we know the areas we need to improve on so we’ve got to continue to work on (them).”
Though Ireland have lost key players to Covid, Estwick warned his side against complacency. “You leave which ever country you’re from with 18, 20 international cricketers and [they’ve] got to be able to adjust,” he stressed. “We cannot underestimate Ireland because remember their key player, Paul Stirling, he’s back (today) so they’ve actually strengthened, so we can’t underestimate them.”
WEST INDIES – Kieron Pollard (captain), Shamarh Brooks, Roston Chase, Justin Greaves, Jason Holder, Gudakesh Motie, Shai Hope, Nicholas Pooran, Devon Thomas, Akeal Hosein, Alzarri Joseph, Jayden Seales, Romario Shepherd, Odean Smith.
IRELAND – Paul Stirling (captain), Mark Adair, Curtis Campher, George Dockrell, Josh Little, Andy McBrine, Barry McCarthy, William Porterfield, Neil Rock, Harry Tector, Craig Young.