By R Kaushik in Colombo
West Indies captain is unfazed by the prospect of facing tough opponents early in the tournament
“The good thing is that the fans are rallying behind us,” Darren Sammy said on Friday, a day before the West Indies kicks off its challenge against Australia. “When we left home, we felt the love of the Caribbean people and the belief that we can do well. Our strongest asset is the belief we have in our dressing room. All 15 guys and the management and the support staff believe we can do well. That’s a plus for us. I always said that being favourites doesn’t always guarantee you a place in the final. You’ve got go out and play every match and play well in order to win.”
Sammy wasn’t fazed at the prospect of facing tough opponents straightaway. “To us, every game in this tournament is a tough game. We have prepared for this tournament, we just had our last practice session and everybody is ready,” he said. “Tomorrow is the game against Australia and all our attention and focus will be to get over this game. We have all prepared well and are ready to take on Australia.
The muscle in the West Indian batting is the envy of every team in the tournament, but Sammy said there was more to batting than just smashing every ball out of the park. “I don’t see it like that because if you see guys like (Mahela) Jayawardena and (Kumar) Sangakkara score... it’s about executing it properly,” he said. “It’s good to have players who clear the boundary with ease but at the end of the day, you have to do it on the pitch.
“Everybody attacks in our side. Some guys are classy like (Darren) Bravo but still they try to find boundaries with ease. We have (Dwayne) Smith, (Chris) Gayle, (Kieron) Pollard, (Andre) Russell, myself... these guys attack. Everybody would be putting their hand up and saying 'send me next'. Having that in the dressing room is good but cricket is played out there in the middle and that’s what matters.”
Sunil Narine is expected to play a crucial role with the ball and spearhead the West Indian attack, especially given his success in the Twenty20 format as well as against the Australians in a 50-over series in the Caribbean not long back. “It’s always good to have guys who dominated in that format. Everybody in the team is looking towards one common goal and that is to win the title” Sammy said. “In order to do that, it won’t take one person, it will take an entire team to go out there and put in all the ingredients to win.
"Like we have seen when Narine plays, he is very difficult to get away and I guess the pressure of the score board and trying to score off him gives him the advantage. But at the end of the day, he still has to go out there and execute his skills. So just like everyone in the side, it’s about execution for Sunil tomorrow.”