• Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Freedom in the air

Battle of the two 'biggest'

Sakeb Subhan
West Indies superstar Chris Gayle is being attended to by the team's physio during a training session at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur yesterday. PHOTO: FIROZ AHMED
West Indies superstar Chris Gayle is being attended to by the team's physio during a training session at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur yesterday. PHOTO: FIROZ AHMED

Today's World Twenty20 match between India and defending champions West Indies will feature two schools of T20 batting locking horns to further each team's claims for progression from Group 2 of the Super 10 stage.
While India's strength lies in all-round batting class -- their line-up boasts the likes of the versatile Virat Kohli, the elegant Rohit Sharma and the explosive Yuvraj Singh and Mahendra Singh Dhoni, West Indies' batsmen are known for their propensity to clear the boundary almost at will. People like the universally feared Chris Gayle and Dwayne Smith have been in good form in the practice matches.
India on the other hand have secured what has now become their token victory over Pakistan in ICC events in the Super 10s opener on Friday and will be in high spirits for today's game.
Suresh Raina, back in the Indian team after missing out on the Asia Cup, felt that spinners will be crucial because of West Indies' style of batting.
"We have [Amit] Mishra who has bowled really well in the last game [against Pakistan]. At the same time [Ravichandran] Ashwin and [Ravindra] Jadeja are doing well," said Raina in a pre-match press conference at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur yesterday. "Against West Indies spinners will be the key bowlers. They can hit sixes well but don't know much about rotating the strike against spinners. It will be important that we put pressure on their big players early."
West Indies skipper Darren Sammy, as always in a jovial mood, had a reply ready for Raina's assessment of his team's batting skills. "Raina has a right to say whatever he wants. If he describes us as six-hitters then they have got to stop us from hitting sixes," said the Caribbean skipper.
Unlike in other formats, West Indies are a side to be reckoned with in T20 cricket, which they proved by winning the last edition in Sri Lanka. "There's always pressure being defending champions. In the last tournament our senior players, our key players performed very well for us. The key was even though they performed, we played together as a team. This time around it is even more important that we continue to do that with our key guys performing consistently.

"As a team we have more belief that we can come out and defend this tournament. We have to focus on each game and tomorrow all our energies are geared towards playing India," he said.
Sammy had the assembled press in stitches when asked if he knew what was on Gayle's mind. "Oh no, I am not Jesus Christ. I don't know what's going on in his mind. I know that he is fully pumped up for this tournament. Whenever he is playing for West Indies he is fully pumped up," he said with the trademark grin.
For his part, Raina stressed the importance of carrying on with the positivity of their win against Pakistan.
"Just go there and play positive cricket. I think we have done well in ODI and T20 cricket recently. When you play against the West Indies you know they have big hitters in their team. You need to control your emotion, control your game plan -- what you are going to do against Chris Gayle, Dwayne Smith and Darren Bravo. We have played against them so just go there and play your best cricket."

Published: 12:00 am Sunday, March 23, 2014

Last modified: 12:56 am Sunday, March 23, 2014

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