'We're a team!'
Windies skipper believes unity key in title defence as India loom
DHAKA, Bangladesh (CMC) — A confident West Indies will launch the defence of their World Twenty20 title when they clash with powerhouses India in mouth-watering clash here today.
The contest, scheduled for the Shere Bangla National Stadium, will bring together an array of the world's finest Twenty20 stars in a high octane affair. Chris Gayle, perhaps the most sought after name in T20s, leads the all-star cast that includes fellow teammates Sunil Narine, Dwayne Bravo, Marlon Samuels and captain Darren Sammy.
India, meanwhile, will showcase the talents of Virat Kohli, Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma and their skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, as they chase their second win in Group Two.
Sammy told reporters yesterday that despite the plethora of stars in the side, the key to their success in the tournament would be their ability to play as a team.
"Being defending champions what I can say is that we've gathered more experience. Last tournament, our senior players, our key players performed very well for us but the key was even though they performed for us, we played together as a team," Sammy pointed out.
"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 but it's not going to be easy, we've got to focus on each game and tomorrow all our energies will be geared towards playing against India."
He continued: "After we do that, we will sit again and look at the roadmap to the cup and analyse and come up with the plan for the next game. But tomorrow (today) is all about India and what we can do to overcome them."
West Indies have had a near flawless build up, beating England 2-1 in a three-match series in the Caribbean before convincingly winning both official warm-up matches here last week, against England and Sri Lanka.
The Caribbean side have appeared daunting at times, with openers Gayle and Dwayne Smith at their attacking best, Samuels, Bravo and Sammy striking the ball well, and Narine among the wickets and reinforcing his status as the world's leading T20 bowler.
Sammy said with the calibre players in the side, he backed the Windies to put pressure on opposing teams.
"Our team has a lot of experienced guys who have been playing T20s all over the world. There are the Gayles, the Narines, the Bravos, Dwayne Smith -- all of whom have gained a lot of experience playing T20 cricket," said the all-rounder.
"And if you start up front with the two openers, coming down you have guys that can give us good impetus in the first six overs with Marlon, (Lendl) Simmons and Bravo in the middle and myself and (Andre) Russell to finish the innings."
"When you look at the bowling line-up (we have), Narine who to me is the number one spinner in T20 cricket, and (there is) Badree and Bravo. We have a young guy called Krishmar Santokie, who I think will have a great impact in this tournament so we're quite happy with the balance of the squad. We're a very good team in this format," Sammy added.
Despite the belief in the camp, Sammy said the Windies would not be overconfident. He noted that they were familiar with the Indian players having all played in the Indian Premier League together, and would carefully go about developing a game plan.
"Cricket is a game of shifting fortunes. It is about going out there and playing the conditions right (and)looking at your opponents," he pointed out.
"And in this day and age you have footage everywhere, you can get the last match by any cricketer and come up with a formula with how you want to attack that person.
"We have a general idea of the Indians. We have a lot of guys who've been in the same dressing room as them and tomorrow's match will be a keenly contested match and it's one that we hope we come out victorious because it's good to start the tournament on a winning note."
The game bowls off at 7:30 pm (8:30 am Jamaica time).
West Indies -- Darren Sammy (captain), Samuel Badree, Dwayne Bravo, Johnson Charles, Sheldon Cottrell, Andre Fletcher, Chris Gayle, Sunil Narine, Denesh Ramdin, Ravi Rampaul, Andre Russell, Marlon Samuels, Krishmar Santokie, Lendl Simmons, Dwayne Smith.
India -- MS Dhoni (captain), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh, Ajinkya Rahane, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Amit Mishra, Stuart Binny, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Mohit Sharma, Varun Aaron.