ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / News

India v West Indies, Group B, World Cup 2011, Chennai

Team no longer dependent on Gayle - Sammy

Dileep Premachandran in Chennai

March 19, 2011

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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."

Devendra Bishoo looks on during West Indies' training session, Chennai, March 19, 2011
It's a good sign, says Darren Sammy, that contributions have been made by several individuals, like Devendra Bishoo in the last game © Associated Press

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 ESPNcricinfo

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Comments: 31 
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Posted by Dummy4 on (March 20, 2011, 14:42 GMT)

He sadly is not good enough to be in the team let alone captain...that is Sammy. Dropping Shivvy in the game vs England was almost nonsensicle.

Posted by Donald on (March 20, 2011, 12:18 GMT)

If WI drop Sammy we'll have better balance and not a bad team for the next one-day campaign after the World Cup. My team and order: (1) Gayle (2) Bharath (3) Darren Bravo (4) Samuels (5) Bravo (c) (6) Pollard (7) Thomas (8) Taylor (9) Russell (10) Roach (11) Bishoo. Bravo as captain. 7 bowling options (Taylor, Roach, Russell, Bishoo, Bravo, Pollard, Gayle), 4 explosive hitters (Gayle, Pollard, Bravo, Russell), one stylish opener (Bharath) that can also drop anchor and one classy batsman that can up the tempo or bat through (Samuels).

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 20, 2011, 11:52 GMT)

Sammy, Sammy, Sammy!!! You are one of the loop holes in this team!! They are certainly are not dependent on you bro! You speak about Shiv like he was already gone. You better believe that I would bet on Gayle and Shiv everyday before you!

Posted by Vikram on (March 20, 2011, 10:55 GMT)

meh... Sammy is in the team merely as the official coin flipper. And if by saying that the team does not depend on Chris Gayle he meant that the team can still lose even if Gayle performs, I cannot agree more with him.

Posted by Lalith on (March 20, 2011, 9:35 GMT)

I think WI believe that they can beat PAK at QF but not SL or AU. So WI wants to finish the group last. That is why they are not playing Gayle or Roach.

Posted by Lalith on (March 20, 2011, 9:19 GMT)

West Indies have been paid by India not to play their best batsman, Gayle and best bowler, Roach.

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 20, 2011, 8:53 GMT)

When you have consumed 68 deliveries scoring at a snail's pace, you are expected to carry your team through, not throw away your wicket at a crucial stage. No mention of him whatsoever, which is a shame.

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 20, 2011, 8:41 GMT)

Sammy give some respect to the cleanest hitter in the business chris gayle, without gayle west Indies can not win any match.

More responsibility on the shoulders of Pollard.

Posted by Ram on (March 20, 2011, 6:10 GMT)

All the best WI !!!!!!!!!!! Hope you will have a good match..

Posted by Lalith on (March 20, 2011, 6:01 GMT)

Win the toss bat first and put up 275. Then WI will have a chance to bowl out IND less than 275. Otherwise it is INDIA all the way.

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Dileep Premachandran Associate editor Dileep Premachandran gave up the joys of studying thermodynamics and strength of materials with a view to following in the footsteps of his literary heroes. Instead, he wound up at the Free Press Journal in Mumbai, writing on sport and politics before Gentleman gave him a column called Replay. A move to MyIndia.com followed, where he teamed up with Sambit Bal, and he arrived at ESPNCricinfo after having also worked for Cricket Talk and total-cricket.com. Sunil Gavaskar and Greg Chappell were his early cricketing heroes, though attempts to emulate their silken touch had hideous results. He considers himself obscenely fortunate to have watched live the two greatest comebacks in sporting history - India against invincible Australia at the Eden Gardens in 2001, and Liverpool's inc-RED-ible resurrection in the 2005 Champions' League final. He lives in Bangalore with his wife, who remains astonishingly tolerant of his sporting obsessions.
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