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West Indies seek to shake off poor form
BRISTOL, England (CMC):
Still searching for their first win on what has been a miserable tour, West Indies will hope to overcome their wretched form and escape the dreadful weather, when they clash with England in the second One-Day International today.
The tourists have been plagued by poor form and uncomfortably cold early-Spring temperatures and failed to win any of their tour matches, before being clean swept in the subsequent two-Test series.
Their hopes of a quick rebound in the ODI series suffered another blow on Thursday when rain forced the opening match at Headingley to be abandoned.
West Indies, who started the tour with plenty confidence following their Test series win in the Caribbean earlier this year, now have just two matches in which to salvage an otherwise disappointing tour of England.
The effort will begin at Bristol, where the tourists will attempt to rid themselves of the dismal form that saw them beaten by 10 wickets inside three days in the Lord's Test and by an innings and 83 runs at Chester-le-Street in the second Test, last week.
Avoiding May temperatures
Further, they will hope to avoid the typical May temperatures that have plunged into single digits at some points on tour, and brought with it dark, damp and wet conditions.
The forecast in England's southwest is for sunshine and pleasant 18 degrees Celsius temperatures, conditions the Windies will hope to capitalise on as they chase a crucial win in the match.
"It was a headache waiting around at Headingley. But there will be sunshine tomorrow, and we are really looking forward to it," an optimistic West Indies captain Chris Gayle said.
"Sitting around (at Headingley) was not what we wanted, and we are ready to get back to playing cricket."
Gayle will also have the bugbear of history as they head into the crucial match. In their two previous games at Bristol, West Indies were beaten by Pakistan in the 1999 World Cup and then a year later by Zimbabwe.
The embattled Jamaican is hoping, however, that England turn in one of their well documented erratic one-day performances.
"On any given day, when England turn up, they can demolish any team," Gayle pointed out.
"But at times, they can have a bit of a downfall in ODI cricket. It's not their strength.
"We're a good one-day team and we think we can beat any team we come across."
The hosts have been further weakened by the absence of star batsman Kevin Pietersen who has been sidelined through injury.
It has left England without their two key ODI players as inspirational fast bowling all-rounder Freddie Flintoff is still recovering from knee surgery.
Gayle said his side had been looking forward to doing battle with the hard-hitting middle order batsman.
"I always love playing against great cricketers like Kevin Pietersen," Gayle said.
"He's injured now, which is disappointing, but I'm sure he'll be back with a bang, maybe in the Ashes or the Twenty20."
West Indies will travel to Birmingham for the final ODI of the series at Edgbaston on Tuesday.
ENGLAND (from): Andrew Strauss (captain), Ravi Bopara, Ian Bell, Owais Shah, Paul Collingwood, Eoin Morgan, Matt Prior, Dimitri Mascarenhas, Tim Bresnan, Stuart Broad, Graeme Swann, Ryan Sidebottom, James Anderson
WEST INDIES (from): Chris Gayle (captain), Denesh Ramdin (vice-capt), Lionel Baker, Sulieman Benn, Dwayne Bravo, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Fidel Edwards, Runako Morton, Kieron Pollard, Ravi Rampaul, Darren Sammy, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Lendl Simmons, Jerome Taylor