India v West Indies, World T20, Group 2, Mirpur March 22, 2014

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Ashok on March 24, 2014, 0:04 GMT

    Sammy's gauntlet Misfired & back fired! As I stated earlier, Indian bowling focussed on accuracy which sealed the fate of the WI. Even for the modest total of 129, they should thank Ashwin & Yuvraj for dropping Gayle at 0 & 19. If yuvraj was caught at Zero, I shudder to think what the final total would have been. Also Sammy's XI excluded the real Bowlers & had some unknown guys. Bowling wins matches not just power hitting. So Mr. Sammy you need to rotate the strike + be powerful hitters to succeed in T20. That is the only way you can Walk the Talk!

  • Android on March 23, 2014, 16:21 GMT

    WI batted out more than 60 dot balls today, almost all of it against India's spinners. So we can safely say WI batsmen don't know how to rotate strike against spinners. Raina 1 Sammy 0.

  • Deepak on March 23, 2014, 11:41 GMT

    Well, Raina is right. In the recently concluded T20 series between West Indies and England, the WI batting lineup struggled to rotate strike against Tredwell (12 overs - 61 runs, 1 wicket). Even Bopara found success with his medium pace (12 overs - 61 runs, 5 wickets). Clearly, the WI batsmen prefer the quicker bowlers which is why Varun Aaron must not be picked in the team. Go with three spinners or two spinners+Binny.

  • Steve on March 23, 2014, 9:55 GMT

    Being able to clear the boundary AND manoeuvre the ball for singles and twos is the domain of only the very best players, requiring flexibility of mind, stance and the ability to work out which shot is appropriate in the blink of an eye! Maybe the Windies don't have quite the balance of hitters and nudgers, but great fun to watch!

  • Scott on March 23, 2014, 9:51 GMT

    India bowl trash, West Indies will win Ashwin and Jadeja are possibly the most overrated cricketers in the world...

  • Dummy4 on March 23, 2014, 9:22 GMT

    All the best team India. Absolutely no change required in playing 11. Yes Yuvraj had a bad day on field against Pakistan. But it is a part of the game. Everybody faces the phase. May be today Yuvraj's day. Rohit, Shikhar, Virat, Raina, Dhoni, Jadeja, everybody is a match winner. No need to worry atall. The only and the biggest worry for India is fielding. Against Pakistan too our fielding was not upto standards. The story of 2014 for India is not batting failure, but fielding failure. Just Remember three names. Williamson ( 1st test droped by Vijay on 31, made 119 ), Maccullum ( 2nd test droped by Kohli on 9, made 302 ) and Sangakara ( got life on 29, made 102 in Asia Cup ). If Indians had not missed theses opprtunities.... Anyways. The only thing for worry is fielding. India must improove their fielding. We servived against Pakistan as dropped catches didnt prooved costely. But some other day like before it may cost us match. Rohit & Shikhar I hope will give flying start as Pak. ATB.

  • ESPN on March 23, 2014, 7:09 GMT

    It's good and fun for world cricket to see WI win and reach final!

  • Dummy4 on March 23, 2014, 6:18 GMT

    India has ro sort out its fast bowling unit.We are unable to produce good quality fast bowlers which is a big concern.Not every time we should expect Jadeja ,Raina or Yuvraj to act as fillers.They may go for plenty on any day.As far as this match is concerned West Indies have a slight edge over India as our openers ,batting and bowling both, are not consistent.

  • mustaq on March 23, 2014, 6:09 GMT

    gayle is not big factor, badree & santoke is big factor.if wi bowling fast & stop india 170-180 then achange for WI . Go WI GOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.

  • vishwas on March 23, 2014, 5:28 GMT

    @Mohammad Tariqul Islam : yeah man, first you follow cricket correctly and coment here... every other person with half baked cricket knowledge coments here...

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