Lara stands by minnows
West Indies captain Brian Lara maintains it is vital to give the weaker sides the chance to take part in elite international tournaments after his team's comprehensive victory over Zimbabwe in their ICC Champions Trophy qualifier.
The defending champions strolled to a nine-wicket victory over the African minnows to get off to the best possible start in the round-robin competition which will provide two qualifiers for the main draw.
Zimbabwe were skittled out for a paltry 85 - the third lowest total in Champions Trophy history - before the Windies chased down their target in just 14.2 overs to secure victory in Ahmedabad.
But Lara said: "It's very important to encourage sides like Zimbabwe and Bangladesh to compete with the best teams in the world.
"Bangladesh have defeated Australia and Pakistan in the past. And these teams have the ability to spring surprises.
"They should be given opportunities to face higher-ranked sides. It’s good for cricket."
Another reason Lara is in favour of Zimbabwe’s participation is that his side will have been boosted by the convincing triumph.
"We had come here to win the match," he said.
"The bowlers got going early. We showed some purpose in our approach. And this win will give us more confidence for the future."
The 37-year-old admitted he was expecting his side to have to chase a much larger target when he saw how the pitch was playing.
"The pitch deserved to go the entire 100 overs," he said.
"I am happy with the position we are presently in. We have worked on all facets of the game."
Zimbabwe captain Prosper Utseya - at 21 the youngest skipper in the competition - was left to rue the fact his team had fallen way short of their intended target.
"We had initially set a target of getting 250 runs in our innings," he said. "And had we got there it would have been a good match.
"We did not play to the best of our ability and I think we can do much better."
Zimbabwe must bounce back quickly, with their next game against Sri Lanka at the same venue on Tuesday, while West Indies head to Jaipur to tackle Bangladesh on Wednesday.