Sammy urges team to forget Afghanistan loss

It will be a big ask for the West Indies to lift itself up for the big semifinal on Thursday, at the Wankhede Stadium against the host India.

Darren Sammy will be hoping that his team will raise its bar against India.   -  PTI

Even as >Chris Gayle joined Afghanistan’s celebration of his team’s defeat, the usually jovial West Indian skipper >Darren Sammy appeared rattled by the untimely loss.

During a customary post-match media briefing, Sammy was far from his usual self. Forget about cracking a joke, he hardly wore his trademark smile during the brief interaction. Rather than crediting Afghanistan for registering its biggest win in international cricket, Sammy blamed his team for the loss at the Vidarbha Cricket Association stadium.

“Look, at the end of the day, we were really happy chasing 124. We should have gotten it. We lost the game, they didn’t win it,” Sammy said. “We are pretty disappointed that we lost the game but we won’t let that define our tournament. The first objective was to be in the semis; we are in there. That’s the focus right now. Whatever happened today doesn’t affect how we’re gonna play the semifinal.”

It will be a big ask for the West Indies to lift itself up for the big semifinal on Thursday, at the Wankhede Stadium against the host India. It, however, has the advantage of having played at the venue where it romped over England in its tournament opener.

It’ll almost be a fortnight since the Caribbeans left Mumbai on a happy note, thanks to Gayle’s antics against England. Ever since, the Wankhede wicket, which was a batting paradise, may have been beaten down by the rising mercury and it would be interesting to see how it behaves on Thursday.

More importantly, the cracks in an otherwise unconquered West Indies is becoming apparent. A slow surface notwithstanding, its two outings in Nagpur revealed the lack of its fancied lower middle order to deal with quality spin. The battery of all-rounders couldn’t really negotiate with decent spinners from South Africa and Afghanistan. They had a chance to rise to the occasion but faltered big time on Sunday.

“The games we have won, every match somebody took responsibility to bat through. Chris did it in the first game, (Andre) Fletcher did it in the second game, Marlon (Samuels) did it in the third. This time nobody did it,” Sammy said. “Nobody took responsibility, just left it for the next man to come. Like I said to the guys tonight, we just leave this game here in Nagpur. It’s a new focus now, which is the semifinal.”

This has dented the middle order’s confidence ahead of the semis despite the team having topped the group. To add to its woes, Andre Fletcher’s availability against India is unsure after he suffered a hamstring injury on Sunday.