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Winning on WI minds

Barry Wilkinson in Sri Lanka

Winning on WI minds

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COLOMBO – Among the thousands of emails waiting in Darren Sammy’s inbox last Friday night was a crucial message from Clive Lloyd which put today’s ICC World Twenty20 final between West Indies and Sri Lanka at the Premadasa Stadium at 9:30 a.m. Barbados time, into perspective for the entire team.
Sammy revealed to SUNSPORT yesterday after the team’s light training that moments after their emphatic victory in the semi-finals against Australia, the note from the former West?Indies captain, who lifted World Cup trophies in 1975 and 1979, took him by surprise.
“Clive said he was proud of what the team has done,” Sammy noted.
“He said the entire Caribbean is rooting for you, but remember the only time success comes before work is in the dictionary.
So don’t forget, because you have made it into the finals, you now have to win it for the Caribbean people.”
It was a timely reminder from Lloyd who further emphasized that the semi-final victory would be short-lived if they didn’t finish the job today.
The team’s mood ahead of the big clash, which will be played before a sellout crowd, was high. They were clearly jovial, but it was also obvious that the team was focused and confident about winning.
“From the time we left the Caribbean, it has been one goal – to win. It hasn’t been a perfect ride but we have made it with one more hurdle to go,” said Sammy.
There has been talk about changing Johnson Charles at the top after an indifferent tournament, but the key again will be the batting of Chris Gayle who has 219 runs at an average of 54.75 per innings and equally stunning strike rate of 165.90.
Marlon Samuels, Dwayne Bravo and Kieron Pollard will be crucial again in the middle, but how the batsmen counter the spin of Ajantha Mendis could determine who gets the early advantage once he takes the new ball.
SUNSPORT was told some thought was given to opening with Darren or Dwayne Bravo.
Sunil Narine and Samuel Badree will lead the bowling as they have for all but one match. Ironically, it was when Badree was amazingly omitted that the West Indies lost to Sri Lanka in the Super Eight.
Sri Lankan skipper Mahela Jayawardene said while everyone expected the spinners to do well on a pitch that should favour their art, he was quietly keeping his eye on pacer Lasith Malinga.
“When Lasi(th) comes into his own, he is trouble, and just seeing him in the nets and the recent matches, I think he will pull some surprises. But Chris [Gayle] is in great form and we will have to play well. I know the home support will lift us,” he said.
The last time the West Indies lifted a World title was the 2004 Champions Trophy in England when they beat the hosts.
When they landed in the Caribbean, then captain Brian Lara allowed Sammy to carry the trophy and take it off the plane to hold aloft when they arrived at the Grantley Adams International Airport.
“Brian said although I didn’t play in that game he thought I kept the team together with my attitude,” Sammy recalled.
“Now, I would love to lift that trophy off the plane as captain.”