SA success key for World Cup, says Gayle
Success against Proteas could be key to WC campaign, says Gayle
Chris Gayle believes success in the limited overs series against South Africa in the coming weeks will put West Indies in good stead for the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, starting in February.
West Indies opened the three-match Twenty20 International series with a four-wicket win on Friday at Newlands, and will also face the Proteas in five One-Day Internationals (ODI) from January 16th.
"With the World Cup right around the corner, you need momentum leading up to the World Cup," the veteran opener pointed out.
"I know it's T20, but there are five important ODIs against South Africa, and if we can actually gain a lot of momentum going up the World Cup, it will give us more confidence. It will be important for us to cash in on this ODI series."
The victory was the first for the Windies on the South Africa tour, after losing the preceding three-Test series 2-0.
Chasing 166, the Caribbean side was propelled by Gayle's breathtaking 77 off 31 balls, as they reached their target with four balls to spare. Predictably, he was voted Man-of-the-Match.
The second T20 is set for Johannesburg today, with the final contest carded for Durban on Wednesday.
"We lost the Test series 2-0 and to actually get off to a good start in the [T20] series [is a good thing]," Gayle said.
"Hopefully, we can build on this momentum and go forward. What would actually be better for us is if we win this T20 series which would give us a boost going into the ODIs. We're looking forward to it and I know the guys are happy to get a win here in South Africa."
Gayle sped to the fastest half-century by a West Indies player when he raised his landmark off just 17 balls. The innings marked his 12th T20 International half-century and overall, he struck five fours and eight sixes.
"The wicket was a pretty decent wicket to bat with the new ball ... but it was just one of those nights. I am happy it came off and hopefully I can have many more of these nights."
Remarkably, the innings came with Gayle still not fully fit. He pulled out of the preceding Test series with back problems which have plagued his career in recent years, but said he was continuing to monitor the injury.
"I never say I am a hundred per cent fit," he laughed.
"[My back] was a bit stiff and I was a bit nervous, to be honest, but it pulled up well so with an innings like this, I'll see how [I feel] and I'll take it from there."