Sport

Mansingh tips balanced Windies outfit

BY ANDREW HANCEL Observer writer

Friday, September 14, 2012    

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NOTED cricket analyst and orthopaedic surgeon Dr Akshai Mansingh agrees that the West Indies are strong enough to win the ICC World T20 in Sri Lanka.

Mansingh likes the chances of Darren Sammy's side which has been bolstered by the return of Chris Gayle, arguably the most destructive batsman in T20 cricket.

He isn't the only one who holds such a view, as he joins top Australian all-rounder Shane Watson and retired Indian captain Sourav Ganguly who express similar sentiments.

The team is also blessed with several world class players, the likes of Andre Russell, Marlon Samuels, Kieron Pollard, Sunil Narine and Dwayne Bravo all being prominent players in the premier T20 competitions around the world.

This and other reasons have given Mansingh the belief that the West Indies can lift the World T20 title for the first time.

"I actually think the West Indies team will certainly be one of the favourites going into the T20 World Cup based on a few things," said Mansingh.

"Firstly, there are some genuine match winners in the team. Chris Gayle is a match winner; Sunil Narine is a match winner and then there is the support staff of Andre Russell, Dwayne Bravo, Darren Sammy. The batting looks pretty good, bolstered by young Darren Bravo coming back.

"So what I'm seeing is a team that has the potential to really go in there and take their opponents apart. The question, of course, is how motivated and how cohesive they are," he argued.

Recently, the West Indies completed an impressive Home Series victory against a depleted New Zealand in all forms of the game. But it was the manner of victory that convinced Mansingh the Caribbean boys are genuine contenders for the coveted prize.

Mansingh said: "And that's actually where I draw a positive from because what we saw against New Zealand, granted not a strong team... we saw a West Indies team do a methodical job of winning that series comprehensively. And if they can maintain that, they will likely do well."

Provided they advance from Group B of the tournament which includes Australia and Ireland, Mansingh thinks the West Indies' main challenge will come from South Africa, host nation Sri Lanka and India.

He said, however, "When you look at all of it from a T20 team perspective, I think the most balanced team is the West Indies."

And if there is a weakness in the team, it lies in the bowling department, said Mansingh, who singled out Russell and Dwayne Bravo as the players who "need to sharpen up" that element of their game.

The depth and strength of the batting is certainly one of the most potent assembled for the September 18-7 October tournament. Also playing with more maturity and renewed self-belief, the West Indies looks, on paper, like the real deal.

Nonetheless Gayle, the first batsman to score an International T20 century, will be key to a regional triumph, Mansingh said, though the team has shown of late they can still win matches when the big left-hander fails.

"The presence of Gayle will be a demoralising factor for opponents," said Mansingh, who is the chief medical officer with the WICB and a member of the International Cricket Council's (ICC) medical panel.

"Obviously, if Chris Gayle is to fail, it puts pressure on the West Indies. The advantage of a Chris Gayle at the top of the order is that he can put away a match in the first few overs.

"There's a bit more maturity in him to stay there and to recognise that he has to be around. So I think all around Chris Gayle being out early is not as disastrous as it was in the past and Chris Gayle being there is sheer disaster for the opposition," he added.

The West Indies best performance at the World T20 was a semi-final finish in the 2009 and 2010 editions.

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