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West Indies will need to smash hosts England in the upcoming one-day international series to avoid the ignominy of being forced to qualify for the 2019 Cricket World Cup after a washout against Ireland on Wednesday.

The game at Stormont was scrapped without a ball being bowled after fresh rain followed an overnight soaking for the pitch, leaving the umpires with no choice.

It means the 1975 and 1979 Cricket World Cup winners will have to beat England 5-0 or 4-0 with either a tie or a no-result in order to qualify ahead of eighth-placed Sri Lanka, who are eight points ahead in the rankings. Only the top seven ODI sides, apart from hosts England, currently ranked fourth, as of September 30 will qualify directly for the 50-over showpiece event in 2019.

Teams that do not gain direct entry will get another shot through a qualifying tournament.

Tough ask, says Holder

West Indies captain Jason Holder said qualifying automatically would be a tough task but he is looking forward to the series, which starts in Manchester next week.

“England are a quality cricket side and they are playing at home,” said the skipper.
“We’re at the stage where we are looking to turn a corner and qualify for the World Cup, whether we have to go through the qualifiers or qualify automatically. We’re excited for the series and hopefully we can play some good cricket.

“It won’t be an embarrassment to play in the qualifiers. We are where we are and if we do have to play in them, we will take it one step at a time.”

The West Indies, who lost the recent Test series against England 2-1, have been boosted by the return of Chris Gayle while Marlon Samuels will join up with the squad after a family bereavement.

“We are still a work in progress and hopefully more players are coming back,” said Holder. (Hindustan Times)