Cyclone Pam threatens Windies’ quarterfinal hopes

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Napier, March 14 (IANS) The West Indies are keeping an anxious watch on the weather ahead of Sunday’s crucial fixture against the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in the cricket World Cup as powerful tropical Cyclone Pam trained its sights on New Zealand’s east coast.

The category five storm is the most powerful to hit the Pacific in three decades and is expected to bring dangerously strong winds of up to 200 kilometres per hour accompanied by torrential rain, reports CMC.

“Hurricane force winds of this magnitude are going to cause a lot of damage,” Vanuatu Meteorological Service director David Gibson said.

While Cyclone Pam is not expected to make landfall before Monday, Napier — located on the east coast of North Island — could begin to feel its effects before, with the forecast for Sunday showing cloudy weather and possible showers.

The centre of the weather system may not pass over New Zealand, but parts of the country, including the northeast coast of North Island, that could experience severe weather, meteorological officials said.

This news will be troubling the West Indies who need to beat UAE at McLean Park to stand any chance of remaining in contention for a quarterfinal spot in the World Cup.

They currently sit fifth in Pool B on four points and a washout will see Pakistan and Ireland — both on six points — through to the next round. Group leaders India, the reigning World champions, and South Africa, have already booked their spots.

Team manager Richie Richardson said the Windies were keeping their fingers crossed for good weather.

“We have to play the game to give ourselves a chance, so we want sunshine. We need two points badly and we need it big,” the former West Indies captain said.

Should West Indies win, they are likely to progress at the expense of the loser of the Pakistan-Ireland game which also bowls off on Sunday, but at the Adelaide Oval.

Richardson believes that once the West Indies reach the quarters, their chances would be as good as any other team.

“We can beat anybody in this competition, but I’ve said at the start of the tournament that I hope we don’t peak too early. We still have a sniff, but we need to back ourselves. We know that, given a chance, we can beat anybody. Once we get past this hurdle of UAE, then anything is possible,” he stressed.

The UAE have lost all five of their games while the West Indies have won two of their five outings, which included a shock four-wicket defeat to minnows Ireland in their opening game. They have also lost their last two games to South Africa and India.

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