By Wisden India staff in Mirpur
West Indies captain says handling Pakistan’s quality spinners will be a challenge, but his batsmen are up to it
That Pakistan game, on Tuesday (April 1) at the Sher-e-Bangla Stadium, is a virtual quarterfinal now, with the last semifinal place in the ICC World Twenty20 2014 beckoning. Sammy said on Monday that the emotions had settled down, and that it’s all stations go as far as the West Indies was concerned.
“We are very well aware that we’ve not won the tournament. We have another important game against Pakistan, who are playing very well at the moment,” said Sammy. “It’s a do or die for us, go big or go home. Tomorrow’s not going to be an easy game. The thing is when we left home, we said by the time we reach the final Super 10 match against Pakistan, we’ll know what exactly what we need to do, and now we’re only going to focus on what we have to do against Pakistan to win.
“Cricket is played out there in the middle, like I always say,” was Sammy’s take on the run-rate and other stuff being taken out of the equation. “We have a good relationship with most of, if not all, the teams that we play against. We always try to play the game in the true spirit that it should be played in, and if you noticed last year, in our Caribbean Premier League, we had a lot of guys from Pakistan. We have a good friendship with them, so we just hope at the end of the day it’s another cracker of a game, but West Indies come out victorious.”
Post the victory against Australia, Sammy joked he had received several calls of complaint from back home. “It’s Lent season in the Caribbean and they were blaming the West Indies for having people drinking during Lent,” he laughed. “The people of the Caribbean really enjoyed the win. Everybody was aware of the buildup towards the game. It was an exciting match, a match where West Indies had to fight to come out on top. But they are also aware that we are not into the semis as well, and the message is just to go out and do well against Pakistan and make sure we get to the semis and take it from there. Tomorrow is a very important match for both teams, like it was against Australia, and hopefully we could repeat the same thing by winning.”
Pakistan’s four-pronged spin attack of Saeed Ajmal, Shahid Afridi, Zulfiqar Babar and Mohammad Hafeez would brook careful watching, Sammy conceded. “Whatever approach we come with, we definitely have to rotate the strike. I think the game against India, where it was spin-oriented, we had probably 60% of the balls that were dot balls,” he pointed out. “It’s something we’ve been working on and hopefully we can rotate the strike and get the boundaries in between, and play much better against spin than we’ve done in the past. It’s going to be a very difficult game, but it’s a step we’re ready to take. We’ve prepared ourselves, and we knew coming down to our fourth game it would be Pakistan and we knew exactly what we have to do, and spin is something that we have to conquer in that game. With that said, we back ourselves, put our runs on the board and defend it, or if it’s the other way around, restrict them to a low total and chase it down like we did against Australia, but hopefully it’s not 170 we chase.”
West Indies has its own spin magicians in Sunil Narine and Samuel Badree, who have benefited from interacting with Saqlain Mushtaq, the Pakistan offspinning legend who is now a part of the West Indies coaching set-up. “Saqlain has been a good addition to us, especially with the spinners. Yes, they’ve got all their spinners, but we’ve got No. 1 and No. 2 in our dressing room as well,” said Sammy. “They’ve got to plan to bowl to our batsmen and face our bowlers as well. It’s going to be a very competitive game, and who executes best will come out victorious.
“That’s why the last two days, we’ve been practising the way we want to go out and play, whether it be rotating that ball in the middle, we know we could get the boundaries, so we just have to do that. They’ve got some quality spinners, which we are aware of, but they are not unplayable. In this format of the game, you respect your opposition, but at the end of the day, we’ve shown that on any given day, the best bowler can go for many runs, like that final against Sri Lanka. We have our plans, we have to go out and execute them, and we believe we can do that.”