Narine will play a big role in World T20 - Sammy
West Indies captain Darren Sammy has said his side would have a weapon in Sunil Narine in Sri Lanka for the World Twenty20. Sammy said the offspinner, among the best spinners in the world, has had an extraordinary introduction to international cricket, and that he expects Narine to play a crucial part in West Indies campaign on Sri Lanka's dry, turning tracks.
"By now [Narine] is a very experienced T20 bowler," Sammy said. "He has done well in this format and won the [Golden Player award] in the IPL. I can see him playing a very big role for us in the tournament because of the pitches here."
Narine has taken seven wickets at 18.23 in Twenty20 Internationals, but perhaps his ODI average of 18.82 from 15 matches is a better reflection of his ability. Blessed with biting turn, a difficult knuckle-ball and a natural knack for guile, Narine has quickly become one of the world's most promising talents, and fetched $700,000 at the IPL auction on that reputation. Sammy said he expects Narine to continue to impress, having had a successful start.
"He has been a great performer for West Indies since coming into the team, so I think it will be more of the same in this tournament."
Sammy played down the notion that his team arrived as tournament favourites however, and said that although the shortest format was the forte of several West Indies players, there are other contenders for the title.
"I have been asked a lot of times about how it feels to be the favourites. But I do not see us as favourites. There are a lot of good teams in this tournament. We just believe that we could come here and win. The calibre of the players we have means that once we go out there and play we can go all the way in this tournament.
"Anyone can have a chance of winning in T20 cricket because the games are shorter and that brings the teams closer together. I don't think you can say that we are favourites," he said.
West Indies swept the two-game Twenty20 series against New Zealand in June as well as comfortably winning the ODI leg of that tour 4-1. Sammy said his side's preparation, which included a nine-day camp in Barbados, had been encouraging. The side had meshed well together, he said, and would approach the tournament with the sole focus of rewarding their fans.
"We want to put all our resources into going out and winning. Our motto for the tournament is one goal, one people and one team. To win the tournament will mean a lot to us as cricketers. Cricket in our islands has been through a lot over the last few years."
"Caribbean people are [now] pulling in one direction. The people come out and support us wherever we go. We as a team always want to keep the fans at the forefront of our mind. It is a wonderful opportunity to put a huge smile on the faces of our fans across the world for supporting us over the last few years. From speaking to everyone in the squad, I can see that they are all motivated and see this is as a massive opportunity."
Andrew Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's correspondent in Sri Lanka