PREVIEW: Windies chase T20 series win
ROSEAU, Dominica – Captain Darren Sammy is determined to ensure West Indies take something away from their series against New Zealand, by winning the Twenty20 double-header starting at Windsor Park here Saturday.
West Indies went under 2-1 in the Test series after losing the decisive third Test by 53 runs last Monday and Sammy said it was now up to the T20 squad to restore a sense of pride, and give Caribbean fans a reason to celebrate.
“Obviously we didn’t win the win the Test series so it’s disappointing but it’s Twenty20s here in Dominica, the first of two Twenty20 Internationals for Dominica and I know they will come out and support the West Indies team like they have before,” said Sammy, who was axed as Test captain prior to the tour.
“For us, it is to go out there and play with that confidence which we have been playing with in that format, and look to salvage some pride by winning the two Twenty20s here in Dominica.”
Sammy’s optimism is not well founded. West Indies have won just three of their last nine T20 Internationals on bi-lateral tours over the last 12 months, including losing 2-0 away to New Zealand in January this year.
They won three of four group games at the T20 World Cup in March, before bowing out in the semi-finals to eventual champions Sri Lanka.
The Windies will have to do without talismanic opener Chris Gayle who has been rested for the series but welcome back the big-hitting Kieron Pollard, who missed the T20 World Cup through injury.
He will be joined by T20 specialists Dwayne Smith and Lendl Simmons, who both scored heavily in the Indian Premier League, and champion off-spinner Sunil Narine who missed the Test series in favour of his IPL commitments.
Sammy said any of his squad could be match winners on any given day.
“With Gayle out, Simmons will most likely open the innings with probably (Andre) Fletcher at number three because we have three of them who can bat anywhere from one to five so we will come up with the right balance and the right combination,” Sammy explained.
“I see in the team we have 11 potential match winners so that’s good for us. Looking at the 11, we have two of the top five bowlers in T20s in the dressing room, we have one of the most sought after T20 cricketers in the world in Kieron Pollard and he’s coming back after missing the World Cup and it will be good to have him in the team.
“All the other guys – the (Krishmar) Sanotkies, the (Chris) Barnwells – these are seasoned campaigners in our Caribbean T20 and it’s good to have them in the set up.”
Sammy said despite the number of exciting players in the squad, it was important that the Windies went out and played tough cricket.
“Chris Gayle in any T20 team is a big asset but [his absence] will give other players the opportunity to come out and play and even looking at the team without Chris it still looks very balanced and power-packed team,” he pointed out.
“So it is about us putting all that quality out there in the middle because at the end of the day cricket is played on the pitch. Once we go out there with the calibre and experience we have in T20s, in the dressing room, I have a good feeling we will come out victorious.”
WEST INDIES – Darren Sammy (captain), Samuel Badree, Christopher Barnwell, Darren Bravo, Sheldon Cottrell, Andre Fletcher, Sunil Narine, Kieron Pollard, Denesh Ramdin, Andre Russell, Krishmar Santokie, Lendl Simmons, Dwayne Smith.
NEW ZEALAND – Brendon McCullum (captain), Tom Latham, Peter Fulton, Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor, Jimmy Neesham, B.J. Watling, Tim Southee, Ish Sodhi, Mark Craig, Trent Boult, Corey Anderson, Hamish Rutherford, Luke Ronchi, Neil Wagner.