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Sammy: Windies must back up hype

Captain hopes battery of stars live up to reputations in Sri Lanka

Gulf News

Bridgetown, Barbados: Captain Darren Sammy believes his star-studded West Indies have an excellent chance of winning the Twenty20 World Cup starting this month, but says the label of favourites means nothing unless they can back it up with strong performances.

Several pundits have already named the West Indies among the pre-tournament favourites for the championship that runs from September 18 to October 7 in Sri Lanka.

“We have a few of the most experienced guys in T20 cricket in our squad and the squad looks very good,” Sammy was quoted as saying by CMC on Saturday at the start of the West Indies camp at the High Performance Centre.

“Once we go out there and play to our full potential, the way we know we can play, we stand a very good chance.”

The West Indies will be bolstered by a battery of Indian Premier League stars including opener Chris Gayle, spinner Sunil Narine, all-rounder Dwayne Bravo and big-hitter Kieron Pollard.

Gayle was the leading batsman in the IPL last season for Royal Challengers Bengaluru, hammering 733 runs an average of 61 with one hundred and seven half-centuries.

Narine, meanwhile, finished with 24 wickets in his first season for Kolkata Knight Riders, earning the man-of-the-series honour as he helped fire them to their maiden IPL title.

The West Indies will also have the likes of pinch-hitter Dwayne Smith, Marlon Samuels and Darren Bravo as part of their armoury.

Sammy said, despite the quality of the side, the Windies needed to remain focused and play consistently. “Once we go out there and play like we’ve been playing in the last series, we could win,” Sammy said.

“We’re going to be focused because people saying that we are favourites doesn’t guarantee you a place in the final. You’ve got to go out there and play and we as a team we’ve got to recognise that and make sure we stay focused and take it game by game.”

The West Indies launched their week-long camp on Saturday, hoping to prime their preparation after a break following the successful New Zealand series.

Sammy said the camp would be important in making the transition from the recent series.

“We had a good end to the Home Series and the guys got a well deserved break,” he said. “We’re back here now and the guys are fine-tuning themselves, working hard and doing everything to make sure we’re ready to go to Sri Lanka and try and win this World Cup.”

West Indies have been placed in Group B alongside Australia and Ireland for the World T20.