West Indies draw inspiration from Christmas movie
West Indies' ODI captain Dwayne Bravo feels the team has been "lacking in unity" and hence recent results have been poor. Following West Indies' first success on the ongoing tour of New Zealand, in the first ODI in Auckland, Bravo said he had emphasised the importance of unity in the lead-up to the match.
"Before we played the game, I really stressed on unity as the team was lacking in that lately and hence the reason why we have been playing so poorly. I made a concerted effort to bring everyone together and get everyone involved.
"We sat down yesterday morning, Christmas morning, and watched Invictus the movie with Morgan Freeman acting as Nelson Mandela. That inspired us. It showed the importance of sport. We are fortunate to represent our nation. We are the few players to do that. It hurts our fans when we don't win cricket games, and not only losing, but the way we lose at times.
"I keep stressing [on unity], and if you have noticed [after] every wicket I get the team together and one player says something positive. It doesn't come from me all the time. It can be a Darren Sammy or a Kieron Powell or a Lendl Simmons."
West Indies hardly competed in the Tests that preceded the ODIs, and the few times they held the advantage, they let it slip through poor cricket and eventually lost the series 0-2. Before arriving in New Zealand, they had struggled in the two-Test series in India, though they managed to win one of the three ODIs in a close, high-scoring game.
In Auckland it was a close, low-scoring game. West Indies' revamped bowling attack - Bravo, Ravi Rampaul and Jason Holder came into the ODI side - made life difficult for New Zealand on a pitch that offered the seamers help, and they scythed through the line-up to restrict them to 156. However, it was not easy going for the visiting batsmen either, and they were reduced to 96 for 6 before Darren Sammy slammed an unbeaten 43 off 27 balls to get them home with two wickets in hand.
Bravo had been confident of the team pulling through even after the top-order collapse, though he admitted it was not the most convincing of wins. "Yes, we were 100 for 6, but we still had a very small ground. We had one of the cleanest hitters in world cricket at the crease. As long as Sammy is there, we still have a good chance. The way he went out, the intent he took out there, to put the pressure back on the New Zealand attack.
"I think a win is very important at the moment. Confidence has been low as a team. It was good we got over the line. We scratched, but we got over the line."
New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum said even though his bowlers had West Indies in trouble, he didn't think they were at their best. "I don't think we bowled particularly well to be honest, I thought we could bowl better than that. But we kept picking up wickets and that's a fighting characteristic. I thought [the pitch] was a little bit two-paced, and with the new ball swinging as well, it certainly favoured the new-ball bowlers.
"[But] when you have got a low total to defend you need to be on song throughout. I thought Mitchell McClenaghan was outstanding for us today, and showed why he is such an attacking force. But we did give up too many extras, and I thought we bowled both sides of the wickets at times, and our lengths were not quite right either. Fighting performance, but not good enough..."
The batsmen too, McCullum said, could have perhaps done better despite the difficult conditions. "Some of the batting, when you come up against a two-paced surface, it can take a little while to adjust, and if we are honest we probably didn't give ourselves long enough to get in and create some partnerships. Not a great performance from us, but I guess if you play poorly and still manage to take them right to end that is still a good sign."