Sammy: Our only focus is on winning
KOLKATA, India – The last time the West Indies toured India back in 2011, they lost the three Test series 2-0 with the third ending in a dramatic draw with the scores tied. Had events transpired a little differently, however, the West Indies could well have won that series.
They took meaningful first-innings leads in two of the three matches but collapsed spectacularly in the second innings both times. It is those first-innings performances that West Indies captain Darren Sammy is focusing on as his team prepares to take on India in Sachin Tendulkar’s final Test series.
“The last time we were here, we were bowling to (Virender) Sehwag, (Gautam) Gambhir, (VVS) Laxman, (Rahul) Dravid, Sachin (Tendulkar) and MS Dhoni, and we bowled the team out three times with four main bowlers,” Sammy said at a Media conference before the first Test at Eden Gardens. “So, we’ve got to be very confident this time.”
This West Indies side is also much more experienced than that won and has tasted Test success, albeit against lesser teams such as Bangladesh and Zimbabwe. Still Sammy believes they have what it takes to test the Indian side.
“We come here with a lot of experience; our young batsmen who played in that series have gained so much exposure since then. We’re in a better frame of mind and are playing much better cricket. We’re just honoured to be here playing this series and will do our best to compete and win the two matches,” he said.
Sammy made it very clear his team is focused on winning the series and is not about to be caught up in the Tendulkar mania that surrounds it.
“He has been a great ambassador for the game and he deserves every bit of the celebration that he is getting. As a team, we just look to block it out because at the end of the day we’re here to play cricket. Irrespective of what goes on in the media or the opposition dressing room, we have to remain focused on our job. We will work to come out on top after the five days of exciting cricket, which we hope it will be.”
Sammy has a healthy respect for the Indian batting line-up but is hoping they don’t find it easy to make the transition to Test cricket from a high-scoring ODI series where the batsmen have had to play their shots from the moment they reach the middle.
“It was a run-fest during their recent series against Australia. Hopefully their batsmen will come out and play big shots, giving us some edges in the slips, lbws and bowled outs. We hope they come in the ODI frame of mind and make mistakes early in the innings.”
However, he was unwilling to concede that India’s bowling would be a problem, saying it could be judged on the basis of one-day cricket played on flat tracks with fielding restrictions.
“But if their bowling is their weakness, it’s all good for us and we won’t complain,” Sammy said. When it came to his own team composition, Sammy wanted to make sure his side had balance.
He felt in the last series they were a bowler short.
“Looking at the pitch, which already has too many cracks, I think two spinners, two genuine pacers and one all-rounder will be the way to go,” he said.
“The last time we played six batsmen, two pacers, myself and Devendra Bishoo (leg-spinner). This time we will look to correct it and come up with a better combination.”