5 key players who helped Windies qualify for 2019 World Cup

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Samuels played a huge role in Windies qualification for the World Cup

The journey may have been one to be riddled with crests and troughs, but West Indies eventually made it through the qualifiers unscathed as they booked their tickets to England for next year's World Cup.

Having qualified atop the group with four wins in four games, the Caribbean outfit were dealt with an early blow in the Super Sixes when Afghanistan caused an upset in the opening game, only to bounce back with three wins on the trot in the aftermath, albeit in the last game, against Scotland, West Indies rode their luck and needed a rain intervention to wrap up the qualification.

However, there have been players who consistently delivered through the course of the qualifier rounds and fostered the progress. Let's look at the top five of them.

#5 Keemo Paul

Paul (left) has impressed in his first international call-up
Paul (left) has impressed in his first international call-up

Last but not the least, a shout out to one of the finds of the campaign.

Keemo Paul was roped in as a replacement for the injured Sheldon Cottrell and it wasn't until the start of the Super Sixes round against Afghanistan that he made his debut.

And it was a fine one; adding 16 runs in the 10th wicket and picking up two albeit in a lost cause.

Regardless, the Guyana native was upbeat in the forthcoming games, picking up two more (both against Zimbabwe) and maintaining a miser economy rate of only 4.06, the best figure among the Windies at this stage.

The right-arm medium pacer was pulling up trees with the U-19 squad throughout 2017 and has successfully brought his talent to the fore in his debut outings with the senior team.

Still only 20 Paul's resounding start to the international call-up should see him get more gametime in the coming days while performing in the same vein would even warrant him a place at the 2019 World Cup.

#4 Kemar Roach

Kemar Roach is back with a bang
Kemar Roach is back with a bang

Jason Holder may be the only player from West Indies to feature among the top 10 bowlers with most wickets in the qualifiers, but Kemar Roach would've given his captain a run for his money had he not been shuffled out of the starting line-up on a timely basis.

The Barbadian pacer made a resounding return to the ODI scenario after almost three years in international wilderness, picking up 11 scalps in five outings here including the incredible four-wicket haul against Ireland that saw him pick up all the big wickets viz., Paul Stirling, Andrew Balbirnie, Ed Joyce and Kevin O'Brian.

And even though he was dropped from the starting XI against Papua New Guinea and Afghanistan, Roach has managed to make a strong case for himself even in the limited opportunities provided to him.

Having dealt with a slew of injuries and dramatic loss of form in the recent past, the qualifying phase can be somewhat seen as a springboard that might relaunch the fast bowler's career in the ODI format.

#3 Jason Holder

Jason Holder has successfully captained his side through the qualifiers
Jason Holder has successfully captained his side through the qualifiers

One of the few bright spots during the ODIs in that ill-fated tour to the Tasman region, Holder carried the form into the World Cup qualifiers and is the leading wicket taker of his team at the time of writing.

Also, with 15 wickets in seven games, he only trails Netherlands' Roelof van der Merwe (16) and Scotland's Safyaan Sharif (17) in the tournament's chart.

The Windies skipper set the tone with a five-for in the opening game against UAE when the Gulf outfit threatened to cause a major upset on matchday one.

He picked up another three against Afghanistan before dismantling Zimbabwe with another four wicket haul, as teams gave in meekly to his pace-bowling.

Not to forget his unbeaten knock of 99 against Papua New Guinea in what turned out to be a one-man show during the Windies innings.

#2 Marlon Samuels

Marlon Samuels, still going strong at 37
Samuels is still going strong at 37

The Jamaican stalwart who registered just two runs fewer than Ewin Lewis although their trajectory over the course of the campaign was starkly similar.

The 37-year old too really got going at the advent of the Super Sixes and his 120-run partnership with Lewis against Scotland rescued Windies from a spectacular collapse.

Samuels showed what they were missing in the disastrous tour of New Zealand in December last year, as he was forced to withdraw with an injury at the eleventh hour.

His average of 47.83 dwarfs that of Lewis and has marked a memorable return to the team.

#1 Evin Lewis

Evin Lewis was the catalyst during the Super Sixes
Evin Lewis was the catalyst during the Super Sixes

In a West Indies batting order that was erratic, to say the least, Lewis was among the few to go from strength to strength regardless of the outcomes.

Having endured a tough start to the campaign that saw him register a combined knock of only 17 runs in the second and third group game, the 26-year old upped the ante thereafter, striking half-centuries in three of the next four games.

The last of which came against Scotland in the decider, has to be his most important of the trio as a knock of 66 helped his side gain a measure of stability when big hitters Chris Gayle and Shai Hope fell for a duck as West Indies went from 3 for 2 in 3 overs to 123 for 2 in 31.

With one game still to go, Lewis currently stands as the most prolific run-getter in the squad with a total of 289 in seven outings at a strike rate of 80.95, although he might be given a break in the final encounter with the job already done.

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Edited by Alan John
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