Sammy throws down the big-hitting gauntlet
It is no secret that West Indies sometimes love hitting fours and sixes to the point where they can ignore the need to rotate the strike. It is a habit that has hurt them often in limited overs cricket and Suresh Raina said India would be looking to target that on Sunday.
"They are a completely different team, they have players who can hits sixes," Raina said. "They do not know much of rotating the strike against spinners, with ones and twos. It is important we put early pressure."
Darren Sammy's response to Raina's opinion was one of casual indifference: "We don't care much about what Raina thinks. If he thinks we are only six-hitters, then stop us from hitting sixes."
West Indies, the defending champions, the entertainers and a team with some of the leading lights of the T20 format are here. And while Sammy admitted there is pressure going into the tournament with their title on the line, he also said he was pleased that he had at his disposal a balanced, "very good" team.
"We have top T20 players who have played around the world. We have [Chris] Gayle, [Sunil] Narine, [Dwayne] Bravo, all of them have a lot of experience playing T20. With the two openers, we have guys who can give us great impetus in the first six overs. Then we have Marlon [Samuels], Bravo and myself to finish the innings.
"The good thing about our team is that we don't rely on any one player. We have at least four, five, six potential match-winners in our side. Spin will play an important part in this tournament and the team which can handle spin better will come out victorious but I am quite happy about the team we have here. In the short format, the bulk of the runs will come from the top four or five batsmen and I think we are very strong at the top of the order with Marlon, Simmons, me and Bravo.
"If you look at our bowling unit, we have Narine who is, to me, the No 1 bowler in this format, (Samuel) Badree, Bravo, and we have a young guy called Krishmar Santokie who could have a great impact in this tournament. He is the leading T20 bowler in the Caribbean and he has played in the Caribbean T20 league and taken a lot of wickets. Most of his wickets are clean-bowled and lbws. He has a lot of variation, not quick, but you will see. You have to see him to know exactly what I mean when he gets his opportunity. So we are happy with the balance of our side. And yes, we are a very good team especially in this format."
For Sammy, the one major change from 2012 is that his players are more experienced. He admitted, however, that the team will still need the big players to step up and help West Indies make it two in two.
"There is always pressure. We are the defending champions," Sammy said. "This time our players are a lot more experienced, the last time our key players had a brilliant tournament. And the key was even though someone did not perform in a match we stuck together as a team. I think this time it is even more important that we have our key guys perform consistently. As a team, we now have more belief that we could come out there and defend the trophy."
Several West Indies players are important cogs for their IPL franchises, and Raina mentioned that India knew the strengths and weaknesses of their opponents. Sammy, though, did not think that familiarity was necessarily an advantage.
"Cricket is a game of shifting confidence. You can know your opponent from the last time you have played but he went back and worked on his game," Sammy said. "To me it is about going out there and using the conditions right, rather than looking at the other's game. In this time and age they have footage everywhere. You can see the last match played by any cricketer and come up with a formula you think might work. But we have a general idea of what their side is and what they are capable of."
Abhishek Purohit is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo