ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / News
India v West Indies, Group B, World Cup 2011, Chennai
Team no longer dependent on Gayle - Sammy
March 19, 2011
When he came for his media briefing on Saturday afternoon, Darren Sammy wasn't sure that West Indies were assured of a place in the last eight. South Africa had done their bit with the bat, but he didn't know Bangladesh would subside so meekly to guarantee his team a quarter-final berth.
It's been a strange sort of tournament for West Indies, with three consecutive wins against the lesser sides sandwiched by losses to South Africa and England. But having avoided the potential banana skins, they will be dangerous opponents for anyone.
"Our first objective when we came here was to qualify for the knockout stage," said Sammy. "No matter what happens in the other game, we'll focus on India."
Had they not lost their composure and four wickets for three runs on Thursday night, West Indies would have headed into Sunday's game with a chance of topping their group. That collapse made some question Shivnarine Chanderpaul's exclusion, though 70 runs from three innings at a dismal strike rate is hardly a ringing endorsement for his inclusion.
"We'll meet tonight and identify our best combination," said Sammy. "We all respect what Shiv has done for the team in the past. He's one of our most experienced players."
The tournament has yet to see a monumental effort from Chris Gayle, and Sammy suggested it was a good sign that the team was no longer dependent on him. "Before, when Chris got out, we used to crumble," he said. "That's not the case with the present crop. When Chris got out early against South Africa, we still made 220-odd. In the last game, young [Devendra] Bishoo and [Andre] Russell stepped up. I think it's a good thing that we've had contributions from different individuals."
What West Indies haven't done, however, is beat a top side in nearly two years. "Winning is a habit," said Sammy. "We're aware that we've come close recently. It's the key moments in games that we've let slip. But we have been creating opportunities to win."
Against India, many eyes will be on the pitch. The same strip was used in the warm-up game against New Zealand. India batted first, piled up a mammoth total and won by a street. "It's the first time I've seen a tent over a wicket," he said. "But I think it's similar to the one used in our match against England. Both teams should have scored more runs then, but it did turn a lot more in the second innings."
Sammy has lost all five tosses in this competition. "Hopefully I'll win one and we can bat first," he said with a smile - West Indies might need that reversal of coin-fortune with India almost certain to play two offspinners against a line-up full of left-handers.
Graeme Swann and the unheralded James Tredwell produced combined figures of 7-84 in the West Indies' previous game, but Sammy was confident he had the personnel to keep India at bay. "I wouldn't say we have a problem [against spin]," he said. "We will have a different strategy for India. We have both power players and guys who can rotate the strike."
For Ottis Gibson, who left his post as England's bowling coach to try and engineer a change in West Indies' fortunes, the challenge is to ensure that mistakes are not repeated. "We've had to ask youngsters to learn at the international level, which is very tough," he said, speaking to ESPNCricinfo the day after the England game. "We have to make sure we don't make the kind of mistakes we made last night.
"With time, we'll get back to winning matches. After the England game, I told them: 'We didn't get beaten. We gave the game away'. Everything we set out to do, we did. Chris [Gayle] went out and played the way he can. We then had Sammy coming in and give us even more impetus. We were way ahead of the rate. All we had to do was bat through. We didn't apply enough thought."
West Indies haven't played India at the World Cup since 1996, when Sachin Tendulkar's 70 - he was dropped a couple of times - gave India a fairly comfortable five-wicket win in Gwalior. Richie Richardson, here as team manager, top scored for West Indies that day. He, Gibson and Sammy will hope that this team - with its big players yet to hit their stride - can at least emulate that side, which qualified as an afterthought and then came within a Shane Warne-spell of the final.
Dileep Premachandran is an associate editor at ESPNcricinfoFeeds: Dileep Premachandran
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