COLOMBO, Sri Lanka:
Chris Gayle warmed up for the ICC World Twenty20 tournament with a brilliant half-century as the West Indies dominated Afghanistan at the P Sara Oval on Monday.
Gayle, the world-leading batsman in the Twenty20 format, hit four leg-side sixes and five powerful boundaries in 65 not out off 48 balls, as the West Indies reached 125-2 wickets off 15.4 overs to win by eight wickets.
Earlier, West Indies bowlers were on the ball on a good surface to restrict Afghanistan to 122-7 off 20 overs. New ball bowler Fidel Edwards used his variations well to end with three wickets, while off-spinner Sunil Narine picked up 2-23.
After the match, Gayle said he was pleased with the overall team performance, especially the effort from the bowlers in hot, energy-sapping conditions. He also gave an assessment of the Windies' readiness, with the opening match five days away.
Bowlers did well
"It was a decent pitch to bat on so credit must go to the bowlers for the way they went out and restricted Afghanistan for 122 and that helped us to finish off strongly with the bat. I'm really happy with that," Gayle said.
"Down here you get good pitches to bat on. I think we stuck to the task well against Afghanistan. We didn't get off to a flyer when we batted, we lost Smithy (Dwayne Smith) so I had to build a partnership with young Johnno (Johnson Charles) and he played well.
"When he got out Marlon came in, and we finished off well. A lot of guys didn't get a hit, but they are preparing mentally for the first match," he pointed out.
West Indies have been drawn in Group B alongside Australia and Ireland. Gayle shared his thoughts on the match-ups ahead.
"The main challenge is going to be the first match with the Aussies. If we get past Australia we should know where we're at. Even if that doesn't happen, we have to make sure we qualify, and that would make the game against Ireland vital for us. They have upset a lot of big teams so we have to be very mindful of that," Gayle said.
Continuing, Gayle observed: "The sub-continent teams are always challenging and the task against them will be difficult. Every team has a chance, but I know once we stick to our plans I don't see any reason why we shouldn't make it to the final and take it from there."
The West Indies' opening match is against the Australians on Saturday at the R Premadasa Stadium in Khetterama. First ball is 7:30 p.m. (11 a.m. Eastern Caribbean time/10 a.m. Jamaica time).