India v West Indies, Champions Trophy, Group B, The Oval June 10, 2013

We're not here to make up the numbers - Gibson


On that famous Colombo night, after Marlon Samuels had launched a staggering counterattack with the bat, he came to the bowling crease and made his presence felt there too. When Samuels took a wicket in his final over, he stood mid-pitch, face lit up in jubilation, and began to shudder while dusting himself off. Incoming team-mates committed to the caper. Each one picked a spot on Samuels' body and brushed him down ecstatically. It is a moment few who were in the ground will ever forget, and an emphatic expression of uniquely Caribbean cricketing fun. On the eve of their second Champions Trophy group match, against India at The Oval though, West Indies coach Ottis Gibson hoped his side will be known for more than just their colour.

"That's the one thing you will get when you come to the stadium to watch West Indies play, you will be entertained," Gibson said. "There was a time not long ago where we entertained you and ended up on the wrong side of the result, and we're hoping to change that. We saw against Pakistan a very close, entertaining match - low scoring but very entertaining - and we actually got the right result. We're looking to do the same again."

Samuels and company had helped deliver West Indies' first major world title since 1979 (although they won the Champions Trophy in 2004). In the intervening years - particularly since the mid-1990s - West Indies had slid drastically from their perch atop the cricket world, and Gibson hoped the triumph in Colombo would become the beginning of West Indies' road to regaining credibility.

"When you look at the style of play that we have as a nation, Twenty20 lends itself to the way we play, the way we like to play. Having said that, Twenty20 to me is always about entertainment. The 50‑over format and, more importantly for me, the Test format, is where the real skills of cricket need to be applied.

"In the past, we've had this group of players together, and we've gone to major tournaments with high expectations, and we didn't do as well as we could have done or should have done. Winning the tournament in Sri Lanka gave us huge belief that yes, we can win. We know we have the superstars, we know we have the players, the talent, but we never really got the job done. Sri Lanka gave us a huge belief that we can, and you'll see a sort of renewed attitude within the team, that when we come to major tournaments we're not just here to make the numbers up anymore. 

"The rankings say that we are now eighth in the world. We know that on our day we're capable of beating the No. 1 team. We're capable of beating any team in a format like this where it's so short and every game matters."

Having won one match and secured - if fortuitously- top spot with a strong net run rate, they are not far from earning a semi-finals berth. India have been one of the form sides in England so far, however, and shape as West Indies' biggest hurdle in the group. West Indies players have been among the most abundant overseas stars in the IPL, and Gibson hoped that experience would sharpen his side's strategy on Tuesday.

"Dwayne Bravo, Chris Gayle, Kieron Pollard and especially Sunil Narine have been starring in the IPL, so hopefully they've got a lot of information to share when we get back this evening. We'll have a really good discussion about the Indian players and stuff like that, and those guys will form part of the main part of that discussion."

Gibson said their strategy is unlikely to prey on India batsmen's perceived weakness against the short ball and would instead seek to maximise West Indies' strengths. India exited the World Twenty20 in England in 2009, after several batsmen had their techniques exposed, and the same deficiency also contributed to their downfall in England in 2011, when they lost the Test series 4-0 and the ODI series 3-0. 

"The last time we used short-pitched bowling, it was Joel Garner, Colin Croft, Michael Holding and people like that," Gibson said. "We don't have those tall guys anymore, so as we saw against Pakistan, we pitched it up, we swung it a little bit and we put it in the right areas. I suppose that will be the strategy going forward."

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Balbir on June 13, 2013, 9:20 GMT

    To anyone reading these comments. Chanderpaul is again scoring for his English county team. Last time I checked he was on 78 not out with ten fours.

    WI, please bring him in the team if you want to win the ICC trophy.

  • Karl on June 11, 2013, 9:07 GMT

    India should bag this match if many think its going to be easy think again guys! If Chris Gayle fires on both cylinders he could easily bat India out of the game. I dont think India has a big hitter to match Gayle at this point. Yuvraj was the only Indian that I believe could match Gayle for power and big hitting. So India has to focus line and length dont give anything away or Gayle and company will get the upper hand. Windies bowling is also boosted with Narine who is proving to be a match wining spinner saw what he did in the IPL, India again are lacking a frontline spinner can't believe it no more Kumble, Harbijaan, I think Ashwin is India"s top spinner but he lacks Kumble's flair. India needs to keep building this team for the next word cup however all rounders are important to support the middle and bottom order that is why I would like to see Stuart Binny in this team hope the Indian selectors read this.

  • Dummy4 on June 11, 2013, 8:39 GMT

    @rajeshi- agreed. The top order is very shaky. But roach and best were never swing bowlers and I don't think their pace will worry rohit sharma, dhawan and kholi. So that won't be an issue.

  • Rajesh on June 11, 2013, 8:13 GMT

    I think the result depends on the pitch... if the pitch is a belter like the one used in the SA match, India will win.. If the pitch offers something to bowlers, then I think it would be a 50-50 game.. the Indian top order is solid only when it plays in flat tracks.. Dhawan, Rohit, Kohli, Raina etc. have rarely played a good innings in seaming conditions.. hope we get a good sporting pitch to see the true mettle of Indian top order... but I would be rooting for an Indian win today...

  • Len on June 11, 2013, 8:12 GMT

    As a WIndian fan, I have to say it will be India who will win and do it comfortably. WIndies have only got 2 bowlers who are capable of worrying the batting of India and NO TEAM of international standing deserves to win any match when relying on just 2 bowlers in my opinion. As for Our batting, its shaky at best, look at the difficulty we had in getting just 170 to win against Pakistan.

  • PeterJerome on June 11, 2013, 7:50 GMT

    To Rohan024: Its the power of that West Indian smile that wins everyone over. They are truly light-hearted people. Its the only smiling cricketing team i can think of. All the best Team WI. An Indian supporter.

  • Michael on June 11, 2013, 7:18 GMT

    India is very strong and shockingly the conditions suit them. I'm a WI fan but I think India will win this game. India's batting lineup is very solid. If they bat first, the result will be known by the end of their innings. I don't think the WI bowlers can restrict India to under 250. But then this is the game of cricket. I'll still be rooting for our boys, Go WI, RALLY!!!!!!

  • Dummy4 on June 11, 2013, 6:45 GMT

    West Indies is a good unit. India will complacent from their wins so far. So will be a good game!

  • Anshul on June 11, 2013, 5:42 GMT

    If Dhawan and Sharma takes the matter till 15th over with maybe 70 odd runs, then forget that WI can win this game.. I am not sure how Gayle has playes against CSK in IPL... No big centuries and he gets Ashwin and Jadeja to deal with... I hope India gets in Vinay Kumar today for this match as he will be handy in stopping Gayle.

    Looking forward for a cracker though.

  • Dummy4 on June 11, 2013, 5:36 GMT

    Gayle and Samuels will determine the winners lets go Windies