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Anand Vasu in Mumbai
October 13, 2006
Brian Lara said that his team were comfortable with the tags of defending champions in the Champions Trophy, and that there was no negativity associated with this. "We're building up the momentum. The guys are aware that we are defending champions and that puts some pressure on us, but that's good pressure," he said at a pre-match press conference in Mumbai. "We understand that and are looking to hold on to the trophy again. We've beaten the best in the world in this tournament two years ago and we're capable of doing it again."
What's helped Lara tremendously is the form of Chris Gayle, who has been Man of the Match in the first two games West Indies has played. "Chris has always had a great influence," explained Lara. "He's a key member of our team the way he bats, bowls and fields. It's very important that he hits his straps, especially batting at the top of the order. It's very important for us that he or [Shivnarine] Chanderpaul carries on. One of the top four have to bat the full fifty overs, and Chris has done that for us on occasion."
He also singled out Ian Bradshaw, that tireless left-arm seamer and hero of the win at The Oval in the last edition of the Champions Trophy. "Bradshaw has been great. I think the rankings show that he's in the top five and has been our most consistent bowler," said Lara. "It's not just as a bowler, his knowledge of the game - he's played for Barbados for long and has captained the youth team. We know that he's a key player and are hoping to get us much out of him as possible. He's been a late bloomer, coming into the team a couple of years ago, but he's grabbed hold of the chance really well."
The arrival of Clive Lloyd, who joined the team in Jaipur in an advisory capacity, has also bolstered this West Indian team. Lara did not hold back when talking of the value Lloyd brought to the set-up. "What we have got on board is simply one of our most successful captains, someone who held the 1975 and 1979 World Cup trophies. He's now part of our cricket committee," said Lara. "He's capable of sharing his knowledge on issues and he's been tremendous, speaking to the players, and in team meetings. He makes very key points. Personally, he is someone I can lean on, as a former captain who has had a lot of success. He has great respect with the guys, and worldwide, and that's something we need."