PREVIEW: Gayle returns to fertile ground
KINGSTON, Jamaica - West Indies and Sri Lanka square-off at Sabina Park on Friday as the curtain rises on the Celkon Mobile Cup tri-nation series which also involves India.
And one of the most dangerous players in the shorter form of the games, Chris Gayle, has put bowlers on alert as he prepares to set foot on a ground where he blasted a century the last time he played there.
The last time Gayle played an ODI in Jamaica he smashed 125 from 107 balls enabling the West Indies to victory over New Zealand.
"It is overdue,” declared Gayle.
“It's been a while and last year I got a hundred here and hopefully this time I can get another one here”.
West Indies, the world T30 champions, are due to play India on Sunday, following Friday’s opening fixture.
The Caribbean cricketers have been involved in training sessions at Sabina Park following their arrival here earlier in the week.
"(It's been a) good day. The first time the team getting together and our preparation for Friday (tomorrow) is looking good. We have another training session tomorrow (today) and we are actually looking forward to that as well," said Gayle.
"The guys getting a feel again coming out of the cold after a few days home and getting back to acclimatise to our home condition and looking forward to a good start here”.
Gayle, 33, who has the impressive record of 20 ODI centuries with a top score of 175, scoring over 8,000 runs at an average of 38, said exploiting home advantage is crucial to their success.
"We should use the home advantage to the best of our (abilitys) and capitalise on that,” he said.
“They won't be in their comfort zone so we have to put the pressure on them as much as possible and let them know that we are home and stamp our authority”.
The Sri Lankan outfit is made-up of a new generation of players including captain Angelo Mathews, Dinesh Chandimal, Lahiru Thirimanne, Kusal Perera, Shamida Eranga.
West Indies are a strong side in limited-overs based on the presence of a number of power-packed players.
However, most of these players have earned their reputations playing in faraway lands for an assortment of teams.
“The good thing about it, during the Champions Trophy we get to play both teams,”said gayle.
“We played Sri Lanka in a warm-up which we actually won and India beat us in the second game, so we know their strengths and weaknesses”.
Gayle believes the team is ready to bounce back from their unfortunate exit from the Champions Trophy.
“We were bubbling in England but we were disappointed with how we got bounced out of the tournament,” said the big hitter.
“This is a new tournament now and everybody is starting back from scratch”.