Windies ready to go in World T20
West Indies captain Darren Sammy exuded confidence yesterday as his team put in their final preparations ahead of their opening match in the ICC World T20 tournament. The Windies had a full morning session at the R Premadsa Stadium, venue for the much-anticipated Group B match against Australia. First ball is 10 am Eastern Caribbean Time.
"This is the start. All the preparation that we have done, all the plans that we have made, all the hard work that we have put in, we will put it on display tomorrow (today). We are confident, we believe in ourselves and we aim to come out with confidence as we look to win and move on.
"To us every game in the tournament is an important game. We had our last practice session and everybody is ready. The most important thing is that everybody in the team has the belief that we can go all the way. All our attention and focus is geared towards this game. It is the only thing that we are talking about. After this game is finished we will then focus on the other game to come," Sammy said.
"We cannot ever count out Australia, they are always hungry for success. We had a good series in the Caribbean against them earlier this year, but this is new turf and I think it will be an exciting match tomorrow."
Sammy believes his team's approach to the tournament build-up has been spot on. The squad had a training camp at the Sagicor High Performance Centre in Barbados before they arrived in Sri Lanka ten days ago and since then they have intensified their preparations and worked on skills specific to the shortest format of the game.
The skipper reported that "everyone is fit, focussed and available for selection" and that bowling could be keep on the track at Premadasa. He also noted that the conditions look good for T20 cricket after they had a full fielding session on the vast outfield.
"Whatever conditions we get, our bowlers will have to adapt quickly to them. We've been here for the last 10 days and we have adapted well. We've watched the games played here (Premadassa) and the pitch looks a good one, so hopefully our bowlers can come out and execute at the crucial times of the game and we'll come out and be victorious," Sammy said.
A lot of focus has been on West Indies opener Chris Gayle, who is one of the world's leading batsmen in all formats of the game; and spinner Sunil Narine, the ICC Emerging Cricketer of the Year, who has impressed in his short time on the international stage. Sammy said it is a delight to have these two and other world-class performers in the line-up.
Australia are aware of their potential weakness against high-class spinners with hard-to-read variations and Sunil Narine fits that category. He baffled the Australians during the ODIs in the Caribbean earlier this year, although they managed to survive against him in the T20s that followed.
Australia coach Mickey Arthur believes attacking Narine might be the best approach. "He's always going to be a factor, like (Saeed) Ajmal for Pakistan and [Ajantha] Mendis for Sri Lanka," Arthur said. "I think if we can put him under just a little bit of pressure, that's something we haven't been able to do with the spinners, we've always been a couple of wickets down, so we haven't been able to attack Ajmal, or Narine in the West Indies where it turned massively."
Australia had a couple of minor concerns in the lead-up to the match, with the veteran spinner Brad Hogg having missed training on Thursday due to a headache and flu-like symptoms, while Mitchell Starc also sat out due to gastro. Xavier Doherty has rejoined the squad having made a quick dash home to be at the birth of his child, while Clint McKay and Ben Hilfenhaus are the backup fast men in the squad. However, the captain George Bailey on Thursday played down the possibility of Starc and Hogg missing the match.
"They're all right," Bailey said. "Training is quiet without Hoggy, [but] he's pretty good and from all reports Starcy was certainly on the mend. We'll make a call."
West Indies (from): Darren Sammy (capt), Chris Gayle, Dwayne Smith, Lendl Simmons, Johnson Charles, Darren Bravo, Marlon Samuels, Dwayne Bravo, Kieron Pollard, Denesh Ramdin, Andre Russell, Samuel Badree, Ravi Rampaul, Sunil Narine, Fidel Edwards.
Australia (possible): George Bailey (capt), David Warner, Shane Watson, 3 Michael Hussey, Cameron White, Glenn Maxwell, Matthew Wade, Daniel Christian, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Brad Hogg/Xavier Doherty.
Group C: Sri Lanka v South Africa, Hambantota
Group B: Australia v West Indies, Colombo.