|Good OmenFALSE FAVOURITES: West Indies spinner Sunil Narine, second right, celebrates with teammate Kieron Pollard, centre, after taking the wicket of England batsman Ravi Bopara during the first One-day International at the Rose Bowl, Southampton, England, on Saturday. The home team beat the Windies by 114 runs to take a 1-0 lead in the three-match ODI series. –Photo: AP|
West Indies are hoping the historic Oval can serve as a good luck charm when the pivotal second One-Day International of the three-match series against England bowls off here today (5.45 a.m. T&T time).
Located in south London, an area which boasts a huge West Indian population, the Oval has always been seen as a home away from home for touring West Indies teams.
In their last ODI played at the Oval eight years ago, West Indies pulled off a thrilling two-wicket win over England to clinch the Champions Trophy, one of two wins at the venue during that tournament.
They have lost just once in nine ODIs at the Oval and vice-captain Dwayne Bravo said he was hoping this trend could continue.
"I fancy our chances at this venue much better because we have a good record in ODIs here as West Indies players, it's a much smaller ground, and the conditions are likely to be different," the all-rounder said.
"We must make things happen in this game because we must win–and if we don't win, we lose the series."
The Caribbean side produced a limp performance in Saturday's opening ODI in Southampton to lose by 114 runs and are aware that another loss will see them surrender the series with a game still to be played.
Loose bowling allowed Ian Bell to score a dazzling 126 off 117 balls, an innings which fired England to 288 for six, off their 50 overs.
Chasing a revised 287 after rain intervened, Dwayne Smith hit a breezy 56 before the batting collapsed to leave West Indies 172 all out.
"The result in the first ODI was not what we wanted, but we still showed good signs," Bravo said.
"This game is a 'must-win' for us in order for us to be alive in the series and we have to sit down and plan properly and then make sure we execute our plans properly."
He added: "This is not a five-match series, where we could bounce back, so we definitely have to try and get it right," he said. "We need to get some momentum.
"In the first ODI, everything seemed set and looking good to go, but we lost Chris [Gayle], we lost my younger brother [Darren], and this hampered our batting a bit, so chasing close to 300 was always going to be difficult."
Injury could again play a role in West Indies preparations as Darren Bravo has been ruled out of the tour with a groin strain while all-rounder Andre Russell is also doubtful after injuring his shoulder in the opening game.
Opener Gayle, who missed the first game with a leg injury, has made himself available for selection though he, like Russell, underwent scans yesterday and did not train with the team.
Regardless, West Indies still boast Smith, Kieron Pollard, Marlon Samuels and Lendl Simmons – enough firepower to chase or post a challenging total.
However, Bravo said what was key for the Windies was playing with intensity throughout the game, whether they bowled or batted first.
"Whatever we do first will determine how we finish the game. It will set the tone for the remainder of the game and, hopefully, whatever we do, we will do it well," the Trinidadian pointed out.
"We must ensure we do not start slow again because we cannot play catch up. England are a very good team, a well-organised, professional unit, and they, too, know how important this game is for them to win. We have to be sharp and expect the unexpected."
WEST INDIES: Darren Sammy (captain), Dwayne Bravo (vice captain), Tino Best, Johnson Charles, Fidel Edwards, Chris Gayle, Sunil Narine, Kieron Pollard, Denesh Ramdin, Ravi Rampaul, Andre Russell, Marlon Samuels, Lendl Simmons, Dwayne Smith
ENGLAND: Alastair Cook (captain), James Anderson, Jonny Bairstow, Ian Bell, Ravi Bopara, Tim Bresnan, Stuart Broad, Jade Dernbach, Steven Finn, Craig Kieswetter, Eoin Morgan, Samit Patel, Graeme Swann, Jonathan Trott.