Windies up for English test
KANDY – The West Indies begin their Super Eights campaign today, banking on their confidence and overall record against England in Twenty20 cricket, when the ICC World Cup resumes at the Pallekele Stadium.
The regional side have played two matches, both spoilt by rain, but spirits in the squad are exceptionally high.
Also going for them is that after eight T20s against the English, the Windies have won five and England are now trying to bounce back from their lopsided loss to India four nights ago.
England couldn’t negotiate the spin of Harbhajan Singh and Piyush Chawala, falling to their lowest total of 80 in Twenty20 cricket.
West Indies captain Darren Sammy has hinted at leg-spinner Samuel Badree getting his first match to join Sunil Narine.
“We will definitely look to push the spin at them. (Samuel) Badree will be considered. Sunil (Narine) is our trump card and, hopefully, he can have a big impact in that England batting line-up,” the skipper said after practice yesterday afternoon.
Dwayne Bravo is again unlikely to be available, still suffering from a strained groin, and if there is to be a change, Ravi Rampaul or Andre Russell will sit out for Badree.
England’s skipper Stuart Broad said his squad didn’t have any injury problems and he also played down the talk about his side not being good players of spin.
“The challenge is all mental,” he said. “It is all about getting yourself back into a positive frame of mind and reminding the guys in the team that they are good players.
“They have performed well to get into this England team and we have match-winners in this side.”
The teams had to endure a tortuous three-and-a-half hour drive to Kandy on Tuesday. Kandy has a very quiet, rural atmosphere, and Pallekele is one of the most picturesque grounds in Sri Lanka.
Very little happens here, and the cricketers have taken to Twitter to express themselves.
Darren Sammy tweeted: “Kandy, Sri Lanka . . . nice place to visit with the hills, mountains, rivers, trees, stunning sunset . . . small piece of paradise.”
Top batsman Chris Gayle was not so complimentary: “Seriously, nothing to do here in Kandy . . . I’ve seen these movies over & over everyday – Internet is red light green light! Bored.com.”
Ironically, it is Gayle whom the 35 000 fans that have purchased tickets for today’s double-header, featuring Sri Lanka and New Zealand and the West Indies and England, will come out to see.
He is treated like a hero in this part of the world, and a fan held a placard last Monday at the Premadasa Stadium reading: “Chris you are the King of Colombo, sit on your throne.”
The West Indies face England today, Sri Lanka on Saturday and New Zealand on Monday in three quarter-final clashes on a pitch that has been very friendly to batsmen.