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30 Jan 2007 14:52
West Indies captain Brian Lara believes his team have built up the right momentum to be strong contenders to win the World Cup on home soil.
“Australia are the only team I feel can guarantee that they are going to be in the semifinals,” the 37-year-old veteran of four World Cups told a news conference on Tuesday.
“And it is at that stage we hope that they will falter,” he added, on the eve of the fourth and final one-day match of a series that hosts India lead 2-1.
West Indies, World Cup winners in 1975 and 1979, reached the International Cricket Council (ICC) Champions Trophy final in India in November after reaching the final of a tri-series also featuring Australia and India.
Australia, who beat the Caribbean team to win their maiden Champions Trophy, are aiming for a hat-trick of World Cup titles.
Lara said he felt more confident of his side’s World Cup chances in March/April than in the past four he has played in.
“I always thought we had the team to do pretty well, [but] we did not,” he recalled. “In those four World Cups, we only got into one semifinal,” he added, referring to the 1996 edition.
“[With] our form and what we have done in recent times, I think I can safely say we have got the game to be among the top four teams.
“We’ve done pretty well in the ICC tournament against all the top playing countries and I expect that to carry on.
“We are forming a very good team and we are quietly confident about our capabilities.”
Lara was keen to sign off the brief Indian tour with a victory to square the series.
His team won in Chennai by three wickets after losing the first two matches.
“It is also very pertinent moving forward, especially with this being our last international game before our [World Cup] opening match against Pakistan,” Lara said.
West Indies have injury concerns with Marlon Samuels, who hit a match-winning 98 in Chennai, nursing a finger injury and all-rounder Dwayne Bravo struggling with a shoulder problem.—Reuters
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