New Delhi, Feb 20 (IANS) The towering personality of Chris Gayle dwarfs the rest of the West Indies team. Much will ride on the attacking left-handed batsman if the Caribbean side is to make an impression in the cricket World Cup.
Gayle is clear about his role and responsibility in the side. Apart from leading the batting, he is looking to contribute handsomely with the ball and perhaps emerge as the best all-rounder in the tournament.
“I prefer a big stage like the World Cup,” Gayle said after West Indies went through their third day of practise here Sunday.
“I am the first one facing the first ball. I am the experienced one and I have the chance to set the tone and lead the batting department to set up good totals. Young (Darren) Bravo has been batting really, really well. I have to give him credit for the way he batted in Sri Lanka. He is our key player. Shiv (Chanderpaul) and (Ramnaresh) Sarwan are two experienced players. Then there are (Dwayne) Bravo, (Kieron) Pollard, (Darren) Sammy.
“Dwayne is an impact player. He is a sort who can come with the fireworks. He can get that buzz around and bring energy to the team. He is a very positive player.”
Gayle said it will not be very difficult to adjust to the sub-continental conditions.
“We have a couple of guys who have played here before. They know what the conditions are like. We know the pitch would be a bit slow. We can make the necessary adjustments once we get to know what the conditions have got to offer.
“The outfield will be fast. It will be challenging for the bowlers.
“Batsmen will definetely get runs here. The teams that bat well will win more games. We have capable spinners and fast bowlers in the tournament. They have played here and they know what to expect.”
With the wickets helping the spinners, Gayle said he would like to roll his arm more often.
“I should be able to do some bowling. I have taken all the top guys and there is no reason why I cannot do it here.”
Gayle said the first match would be very important as they play favourites South Africa Feb 24.
“They are a good allround team. We know their capabilities. They are top quality and we cannot slacken against them. We have play our top game to beat them. Once we get a sniff in, we could actually try and capitalise on it as much as possible. All teams are beatable.
“We need a winning start. The first target is to qualify for the quarterfinals and then anything is possible from there. We could not do that in the last two World Cups but we have quality players this time round.”
Gayle said during the Sri Lanka tour, where they all lost all three ODIs, things did not go according to plan.
“But World Cup is a big occasion and that is what really counts. Things been looking up really well. The preparation has been good.”
“We have to take the responsibility. Things don’t happen overnight, but we will try and build the team as much as possible. It is a perfect occasion to do it.”
Asked whether he will temper down his agression in batting, Gayle said: “I need to a get a good start, try and dictate the bowlers. The key is to get past the initial overs and then play according to the situation.”
He admitted that losing two key players in Adrian Barath and wicketkeeper Carlton Baugh was a setback. “They have been doing well. It is unfortunate. There are two new guys coming in the team. We have to put them in the comfort zone as much as possible.”
Gayle, who has 19 ODI centuries, praised Virender Sehwag’s 175 against Bangladesh in the opening match Saturday. “I did not see the entire match. Viru (Sehwag) was brilliant. We all now what he is capable of. He is the most dangerous batsman in the world.”
When asked whether he would be eyeing a 200 here, Gayle said: “The master blaster (Sachin Tendulkar) got it, a guy like Sehwag can get it. You got to have a good start and bat right through the 50 overs and gauge your innings. If I get a chance, I will give it a go.”