When Darren Sammy was named West Indies captain in October last year, one of the few people he received support from was the man he replaced - Chris Gayle, who said at the time: "We are all there to try and guide and help him." Gayle lived up to his word on Friday, giving the West Indies team a pre-match motivational speech and warning that Bangladesh would be up for the game.
Sammy was appreciative of Gayle's contribution. "We were a little flat in the warm-up and he [Gayle] didn't like that, so he encouraged us to go out there and remember Bangladesh would be coming hard at us," Sammy told AFP. "Gayle told us 'do not take Bangladesh lightly'."
West Indies obviously took Gayle seriously, for what followed was a nine-wicket demolition of Bangladesh which lasted just 31.1 overs.
Gayle led West Indies for three years before he was axed, a decision the West Indies board made shortly after Gayle had decided against signing a central contract, thus freeing him to play Twenty20 competitions in other countries even if board commitments had to be compromised. He is, however, still a vital part of West Indies' squad, and Sammy praised his commitment to the team, saying Gayle played even though he was not feeling well.
"It was a brilliant performance by my team-mates," Sammy said. "Chris Gayle wasn't feeling well today but I thought he came out and showed how committed he is to the cause." Sammy, himself, made an important contribution, taking three wickets and a sharp slip catch to remove the dangerous Tamim Iqbal, as West Indies bowled Bangladesh out for 58.
There was not much left for Gayle to do with the bat, but he crossed an important landmark, going past 8,000 one-day runs on his way to an unbeaten 37. Gayle said he was a bit surprised that the match, which had been built up as a crunch tie in Group B, had been such an anti-climax. "I was expecting a bigger occasion than this but having said that the wicket seems to be doing a bit," Gayle said. "Kemar Roach [who took 3 for 19] did a brilliant job and all the bowlers stepped up to the plate. The wicket seems to be doing a bit for the spinners."
The win gives West Indies four points from three games, and Gayle was confident his team was on their way to the knockouts. "This will take us through to quarter-final," he said, but was quick to add: "We can't relax. Ireland, India and England games are coming. I am trying to spend some time in the middle; I was trying to sort things out as quickly as possible and I will try to give the team good starts."
West Indies went into the game ranked lower than Bangladesh in the ICC one-day rankings, and many tipped Bangladesh's home advantage to give them the edge. Sammy, however, said he was always confident it was a winnable game. "We went out there knowing how crucial this game was for us," he said. "We've always fancied ourselves, but it's up to us to go out there and play competitive and consistent cricket." They will now hope to take that consistency into their next game, another crucial one, against Ireland on March 11.