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Sammy backing Gayle to unleash against Aussies

lCANBERRA

West Indies captain Darren Sammy is predicting a return to form for talismanic opener Chris Gayle during the upcoming five-match one-day series against Australia.

Gayle struggled in the recent Australia Big Bash League for Sydney Thunder, managing just 137 runs from seven innings as his side finished the preliminary round winless.

However, the left-hander blasted scores of 85 and 122 not out in his only two outings in the just concluded Caribbean Twenty20, and Sammy said yesterday he was expecting great things from the prolific batsman as West Indies prepared to take on the Prime Minister's XI in tonight's warm-up fixture at Manuka Oval.

"I remember Chris Gayle hitting the ball all over the park," Sammy said, recalling the last time Gayle lined up against the PM's XI two years ago at the same venue.

"We played well that day and entertained the crowd. It's a good fixture whenever we tour here and it's good to play the Prime Minister's match to start our tour. I'm expecting Chris to have a good tour on a whole and I also expect the team to play well in these conditions."

Then, Gayle lashed 146 from 89 balls as West Indies piled up 399 for five off 45 overs.

Last week, he set the St Lucia leg of the CT20 alight with a brutal exhibition of power-hitting, form Sammy said was encouraging ahead of the Aussie showdown.

"When he came back home he looked really good and I think he almost had the most runs in the Caribbean T20 tournament after just a couple of games," Sammy explained.

"We all know what he's capable of, but the strength for us is the way the team has performed together. We are getting stronger as a unit."

West Indies will open the series with a doubleheader in Perth on the weekend.

—CMC

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