Gayle backs full-strength West Indies to win T20 Cup
GEORGETOWN, Guyana (CMC):
West Indies skipper, Chris Gayle, said yesterday he favoured his side's chances of winning the World Twenty20 Championship, especially with the return of key strike bowler Jerome Taylor and highly-rated batsman Ramnaresh Sarwan.
Both players are returning to the April 30 to May 16 tournament following long spells out of the game due to injury.
Gayle said their presence for the global event would be tremendous, as they clash in Group D of the first round here beginning on Friday with a day/night encounter against Ireland.
"I am confident we will pull off the tournament. We have a balanced team and that is why I am so optimistic of having the prestigious cup stay here," the Jamaican told reporters.
"With the return of Taylor and Sarwan, I think that will give us a big advantage as well."
Gayle added that the likes of the big-hitting Kieron Pollard, the versatile all-rounder Dwayne Bravo and the veteran left-hander Shivnarine Chanderpaul would further strengthen the team.
Coupled with home advantage and crowd support, along with the momentum from the one-day series win against Zimbabwe, Gayle said he believed West Indies would be formidable opponents.
"Everyone knows (their) role - Bravo, Taylor, Pollard, myself, Sarwan, Chanderpaul are players who have done well for West Indies and should be taking up the responsibility again of making the Caribbean proud in this tournament," the languid 30-year-old pointed out.
"We would have learnt a lot from our previous one-day series against Zimbabwe right here and winning that series has also helped build the momentum up for this competition."
Gayle said that both departments were very strong and he wanted each player to make an impact. He said he expected rookie pacer Kemar Roach and Ravi Rampaul to be at their best, while noting that slower bowlers like himself, left-arm orthodox spinners Sulieman Benn and Nikita Miller and off-spinner Narsingh Deonarine would provide variety.
"We have variety in the bowling department and I know Kemar and Ravi have delivered with precision in this version of the game, and with the support from the slower bowlers, I think we will bowl well," Gayle said.
"We will go out there and play hard cricket, just try to build a good team morale, let everyone get a feel and try to correct any mistakes. We just can't underestimate any team, it is Twenty20 cricket and a team can be dangerous on a given day."
West Indies will be hoping to better their outing in last year's tournament when they reached the semi-finals in England before losing to Sri Lanka.
The hosts will play warm-up matches against Afghanistan and New Zealand today and tomorrow, respectively, at the National Stadium at Providence.