West Indies look to close out their limited-overs international series with Zimbabwe when the two sides meet for back-to-back contests on Saturday and Sunday in Guyana. West Indies lead the seven-match series 2-0, after back-to-back victories by five wickets and 98 runs last weekend at the Antigua Recreation Ground.
Brian Lara, the West Indies captain, has already indicated his intention not to play all the matches in the series, and this would be a big motivating factor for him to get his troops primed for battle. "We weren't as convincing as we should have been in the first two ODIs, but don't take anything away from our guys, to complete a victory is important," Lara said. "We've got to go back in the classroom and work on it. The Zimbabweans, I think they've got hope, it's a situation where it's unfortunate with the exodus of players, but they have to work with what they have and I'm seeing one or two bright lights."
Lara is, however, worried about his side's batting which has failed to dominate so far. "The batting is not as solid as we would have hoped," he said. "I am just a little bit worried about the batting, but I sense that the guys are just getting themselves back in, and that we can expect better as we go on. We know for a fact that if we are going to play against better teams that we've got to score a lot more freely and make a lot more runs."
West Indies have fortified their side with an additional three players: Tino Best, the fast bowler, Dave Mohammed, the left-arm chinaman bowler, and Sewnarine Chattergoon, the uncapped left-handed opener, now have raised the squad strength to 14.
This follows a policy of rotation that the Caribbean side hopes to adopt over the rest of the year, as they seek to overcome the spate of injuries that have set back the side from time to time and prepare themselves for the 2007 World Cup in their backyard.
Zimbabwe did not have the ideal mental preparation for this weekend's match in a midweek scrimmage with the University of the West Indies Vice Chancellor's XI in Antigua. Though the visitors' batting did well to mount a serious target of 325 to the home team, the manner in which the university side approached the target, not to mention achieving it, would further deflate Terrence Duffin's young and inexperienced side.
The Zimbabweans, however, showed great fight in the first two ODIs, with Justice Chibhabha distinguishing himself as a batsman with some promise, Edward Rainsford, the medium-fast bowler, bowling with control, and Prosper Utseya offering plenty of guile with his off-spin.
They would need for the others around them - particularly Duffin, Piet Rinke, fellow opener, Brendon Taylor, the wicketkeeper-batsman, and Blessing Mahwire, the fast bowler - to show similar or greater levels of effectiveness if the visitors are to burst Lara's bubble.
West Indies (from): Brian Lara (capt), Tino Best, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Sewnarine Chattergoon, Corey Collymore, Fidel Edwards, Chris Gayle, Dave Mohammed, Runako Morton, Denesh Ramdin, Marlon Samuels, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Dwayne Smith, Jerome Taylor.
Zimbabwe (from): Terrence Duffin (capt), Chamunorwa Chibhabha, Elton Chigumbura, Charles Coventry, Keith Dabengwa, Ryan Higgins, Anthony Ireland, Blessing Mahwire, Keegan Meth, Tawanda Mupariwa, Edward Rainsford, Piet Rinke, Vusimuzi Sibanda, Gregory Strydom, Brendan Taylor, Prosper Utseya.
Umpires: Billy Doctrove, Billy Bowden