Colombo: West Indian batsman Chris Gayle is the talk of the World Twenty20 tournament following his man-of-the-match performance in his side’s semi-final demolition of Australia on Friday night.
After Gayle proved how deadly he is with an innings of 75 from just 41 balls as West Indies won by 74 runs, the Jamaican spoke at length about his knock, how he demolished the Australia attack and his hopes for Sunday’s final against Sri Lanka.
What was your plan when you went out to bat? Was it a deliberate plan to start slowly and then attack?
The key was to be there till the end. The other guys had to play around me. It was a slow start and I didn’t get much strike in the first six overs. What was important was that we didn’t panic and lose focus. It was actually a slow track.
How satisfied were you with the support you got from the other batsmen? How much did it help in the course of your knock?
Marlon Samuels came in and hit a few boundaries to take the pressure off me. The partnership with [Dwayne] Bravo helped a lot too and [Kieron] Pollard at the end helped take the total to 200. When you can play with a bit of power, you can pick up key runs at the end. I felt it was a really good batting display.
Did you really expect to go past the 200-run mark, especially in a semi-final?
Watching the games here, it was a slow track. We knew spin would play a part, but we capitalised on the bad balls and put their spinners under a bit of pressure. We were looking at 150 to 160. To get 40 runs extra was a bonus.
You were seen talking to Kieron Pollard and after that he began to hit out. What did you tell him?
Before he came in they were showing his Champions League innings for Trinidad against New South Wales. I told him ‘today, I need the old Pollard back’. And he did play that part. There’s one more hurdle to cross and hopefully he can give us that boost again and take us to the trophy.
Is there something called building an innings in Twenty20 or should all batsmen go for their shots from the first ball?
You can build an innings in T20, but your partners have to help you. No team would want too many dot balls out there, but if you are sure that you can capitalise on the last couple of overs with your power, you can build an innings.
Did you feel that they made a deliberate attempt to keep you off the strike?
The more I was off strike, the better it was for them. They would have loved to get me out as early as possible. They started really well with [Mitchell] Starc and [Shane] Watson was the pick of the bowlers. We lost an early wicket but we built the rest of our inning on partnerships.
Do you think Australia bowled badly or your batsmen made it look bad?
They kind of put a couple of deliveries in my slot. In this format, if you don’t get your yorkers right, it’s going to be tough. Bowling against power hitters, you’ll pay the penalty. They bowled well at us but, when you have a bit of extra power, anything can happen out there.
Do you think Australia surrendered meekly? Were you surprised by their batting collapse?
They have world-class players at the top of the order who have done it before. To get them out early was a plus for us. [Mike] Hussey has won a lot of games for Australia. Picking up early wickets exposed the middle order a bit. I’m not saying there aren’t quality players in the middle, but they haven’t had a lot of hits. It was always going to be difficult for them to chase down 200 on that sort of wicket.