Big four open shots

Bridgetown, March 4:

Hosts West Indies, England, South Africa and Sri Lanka will fire the opening shots in their World Cup campaigns on Monday at the start of series of warm-up matches.

West Indies, bidding to become the first host nation to win the title, face Kenya in Jamaica, England will look to pile up the runs against debutants Bermuda at St Vincent while the world’s leading team South Africa clash with Ireland in Trinidad. Sri Lanka will play Scotland in Barbados.

West Indies captain Brian Lara believes his team have the ability to reach at least the semi-finals. “We are looking to get to the semi-finals and then take it from there,” said Lara. “We have a very good record at home, and the players are really looking forward to this major event,” he added.

At Kingstown, England skipper Michael Vaughan will test his fitness after a combination of knee and hamstring injuries meant he has played in just three of his team’s 35 one-dayers. He plans to feature in some of the warm-ups before assessing his chances of playing in England’s opening game against New Zealand on March 16.

Influential batsman Kevin Pietersen will also test his recovery from the rib injury.

South Africa coach Mickey Arthur insists the team have prepared well for a tournament which has brought them nothing but heartache in the past.

“It is all about peaking at the right time and I think, for us, things have been going nicely this season. We have shown an upward curve so hopefully our planning is coming to fruition,” said Arthur.

Sri Lanka will also play New Zealand in a warm-up on March 9 before heading to Trinidad for their first round matches against India, Bangladesh and Bermuda.