Chris Gayle, the West Indies batsman, has emphasised the need for his team to start the upcoming five-match ODI series against New Zealand on a winning note. West Indies are fresh from a Twenty20 series win over New Zealand in Florida, with Gayle in impressive form, having struck three half-centuries since his return to the side.
"The start to this series is very important," Gayle said on the eve of the first ODI in Jamaica. "From a personal point of view, I want to do well in my home town. I will just look at it as another game. I will look to give the team a good start, look to see what the bowlers are doing, and once I get set, look to capitalise and make it count."
Gayle admitted he'd been relatively slow to start an innings before going on to dominate, something he also experienced in the IPL. "I don't know why that has been happening. If I get a bad ball early, that can give me the momentum to be more attacking. If that doesn't happen, you had to adapt to the situation, get the feel and know what the ball is doing. Sometimes as a batsman, things go your way from ball one."
The track at Sabina Park, Gayle said, promised a lot of runs. "The pitch looks good ... [it] should be a very good track for batting. I believe there could be some assistance for the fast bowlers early on as well and at some stage you could expect the spinners to come into play. I have played here many times and I'm accustomed to the conditions so we know what to expect.
"The last time I walked off Sabina Park I was raising my bat after I got 165 for Jamaica against Windward Islands. That people of Jamaica have not had cricket at Sabina for a while so it is good to have cricket come back to Jamaica. I would love to get a hundred here and raise my bat again."
West Indies were beaten in their previous ODI series, against England, and Darren Sammy, their captain, said there were areas, even in the T20 wins against New Zealand, his team had to improve in. "We're looking for consistency," Sammy said. "For the past few series we haven't started well. In the first game, we bowled a few boundary balls. We started off the overs well, and eased off the pressure in the fifth and sixth balls."