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'Gutted' Holder wants team to 'look in the mirror'

West Indies captain Jason Holder has said luck did not always favour West Indies in the tri-series, but of the things they could control, they did not field well enough

Jason Holder took out Chamu Chibhabha early, Zimbabwe v West Indies, tri-series, Bulawayo, November 25, 2016

Jason Holder: 'It's very disappointing. It's tough to be in this position, after starting the tour so well'  •  AFP

From the high of their opening victory over Sri Lanka, West Indies tied against Zimbabwe and then suffered two narrow defeats, by one and five runs, to slip out of contention for the tri-series final, and will leave Zimbabwe with just one win from four matches. Where did it all go wrong?
"It's a difficult question," West Indies captain Jason Holder said after his team's tour-ending defeat to Zimbabwe in Bulawayo. "Luck wasn't really in our favour in some instances but, out of the things that we could control, I didn't think that we fielded well throughout the entire tournament, consistently.
"It's very disappointing. It's tough to be in this position, after starting the tour so well. At the beginning of the tour we felt we could have won the tournament, and to be in this position right now, we're absolutely gutted. It's a situation where we really need to look at ourselves in the mirror and see where we fell short, moving forward into the new year, and see how we can come together again and perform better.
"Today I felt Zimbabwe got too many runs, and we didn't bat smart enough in the situation," Holder added. "We lost wickets at crucial stages." Zimbabwe's 218 for 8 may have seemed a modest target, but conditions were tricky for batting and with rain around it was always possible that Duckworth/Lewis targets could come in to play. West Indies needed a steady start, but instead they lost three wickets inside the first 10 overs. Graeme Cremer used his bowlers cunningly, and for the first time in an ODI innings the first four bowlers used were all spinners. With wickets falling, and Zimbabwe getting through their overs very quickly, the hosts were able to put themselves in a strong position.
"Some credit must be given to Zimbabwe for the way they strategised: [how they went] about their innings, and to get the spinners on early and get through their overs with all this talk of the weather around," Holder said. Holder himself very nearly pulled West Indies back into contention. He hit three of the first six balls he faced to the boundary, and followed that up with a lofted six - the only one of West Indies' innings - down the ground. When Cremer came on to bowl the 28th over, with the drizzle getting heavier, West Indies were just eight runs from a winning score. Holder said he felt he could have continued batting in those conditions, but the umpires decided otherwise.
"At the beginning of that last over which Graeme started to bowl, I knew we had to get as close as possible to it, but it was still a risk because you didn't want to lose a wicket as well. So I tried to go after him a little bit, but I couldn't get hold of it. I had a word with the umpire then, and he did say that if it continued in that vein we'd consider going off. For me, I was just trying to get to that score without losing a wicket, so I was between a rock and a hard place.
"It was touch and go, to be honest. I felt the weather never really changed throughout the entire day. But the umpires used their discretion, I couldn't really get involved. It was their decision. They felt it was becoming a little slippery for the fielders. I was willing to play through it, and I felt like we could have stayed on and played through it, but that was beyond my control."
Yet Holder will not leave Zimbabwe with nothing to show for his troubles. Ahead of the final, the two leading run-scorers and three of the top five wicket-takers in the tri-series are in the West Indies squad.
"There are plenty of positives. We got two centuries in four games, the bowlers came in and did a really good job. And just to see the way we went out in the last game to try and chase down 331, to fall one run short... For a young group, a very inexperienced team, to get that close, credit must be given to the guys. I'm not disappointed too much in individual's performances. Collectively, we fell short.
"To see the way we've grown in this tournament, the way the guys have played, I can't fault them. It's a situation where we need to learn, and learn quickly. We go back home now, and some people have first-class cricket, and then we have our 50-over competition in the new year. It's a situation where we need to take every opportunity we get to play some cricket, and we'll get better."

Liam Brickhill is a freelance journalist based in Cape Town