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Gayle’s fitness a worry for Windies ahead of WCup decider

March 11, 2015

NAPIER, New Zealand (AP) — West Indies batsman Chris Gayle is “struggling” with a back injury ahead of his team’s World Cup match against the United Arab Emirates on Sunday which will determine whether it qualifies for the quarterfinals.

Gayle was unable to train with his teammates in Napier on Wednesday, remaining at the team hotel to rest in the hope of speeding his recovery.

Coach Stuart Williams wasn’t able to say whether Gayle will be fit to play on Sunday but hinted he might not be risked with a possible quarterfinal looming. Williams told reporters “we’d love him to play all the games (but) we’ll just have to manage him better.”

The West Indies’ loss to Ireland in their opening pool match means they must beat the UAE on Sunday to have any chance of qualifying in fourth place from Pool B and earning a likely quarterfinal against New Zealand.

Williams said the setback against Ireland meant the West Indies have known for some time that “we have to win this game” to reach the knockout rounds.

“Our destiny is ahead of us,” Williams said. “For a few days our future is in our own hands and on Sunday we’ll know exactly what we’ll have to do to qualify.”

Williams agreed the West Indies’ form throughout the tournament had been inconsistent.

After the loss to Ireland, it comfortably beat Pakistan and Zimbabwe before suffering another form reversal against South Africa, conceding 405 runs.

“In reality it’s better to have (bad performances) earlier than now,” Williams said. “Sometimes it’s up and sometimes it’s down so we’ve just got to get the balance right, whether it’s batting, bowling or fielding.”

He said the West Indies had a proven ability to rise to the big occasion and he is confident they will be a force in the quarterfinals, if they can qualify.

“Right now we don’t have a choice. We can only finish fourth (in pool B),” Williams said. “So once we qualify, nobody will want to play the West Indies.

“On our day we will beat anyone in this tournament and our men will be ready for that.”

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