DHAKA - India has hit on the right bowling combination with three spinners ahead of battle in which both sets of players have considerable familiarity with each other Sammy’s sunny countenance is amply illustrative of the mood in the West Indies camp as it sets about the defence of its ICC World Twenty20 crown.
Having arrived a good 30 minutes ahead of schedule for his press conference, Darren Sammy waited patiently for the journalists, out of shape and panting after hurriedly clambering down three levels, to catch their breath and settle down. Suddenly, he discovered the pleasures of a swivel chair, going round and round in circles and repeatedly saying. ‘This is nice’.
Sammy and a smile are constant companions. He is blessed with the ability to find humour in every situation, an endearing trait that is distinctly Caribbean, and which must not be mistaken for a lack of competitive intent.
As the Q&A session got underway, someone asked the West Indies captain, “You seem very relaxed, do you think India are easy opponents tomorrow?” For a fleeting second, the smile left the Sammy face as he struggled to make sense of that query. Then, he grinned broadly and countered, “You seriously asked that question?”
Sammy’s sunny countenance is amply illustrative of the mood in the West Indies camp as it sets about the defence of its ICC World Twenty20 crown, won in Colombo 18 months ago on the back of Marlon Samuels’s breathtaking assault on Lasith Malinga and a tidy performance from their bowlers. The status of defending champion is something West Indies isn't too familiar with – the last time it entered a global tournament as the holder was during the Champions Trophy in 2006, when it moved to within one rung of becoming a repeat champion before being stopped by Australia.
The label of defending champion, though, is unlikely to make any impact on the kind of cricket West Indies plays. The side brings the freest of spirits and a supreme enjoyment of the craft that makes it a joy to behold. Not unlike Pakistan, it can either comprehensively subjugate an opposition or summarily roll over, though given its liking for, and a relative mastery of the Twenty20 format, it is difficult to see the team not putting up a serious fight to retain top dog status over the next fortnight.
First up for West Indies is 2007 champion India, in game two of the double header at the Sher-e-Bangla Stadium on Sunday(March 23) night. India is on a high after its commanding seven-wicket rout of Pakistan in the Super 10 opener, but having seen firsthand the kind of damage the West Indian batsmen can do, India will hardly look back at Friday’s victory at any great length. On Sunday, the bowlers' energies will be focussed entirely on how to tackle the booming willows of Chris Gayle and Dwayne Smith, of Samuels and Dwayne Bravo, of Lendl Simmons and Sammy himself.
INDIA: Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (capt, wk), R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Amit Mishra, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Varun Aaron, Stuart Binny, Mohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane.
WEST INDIES: Chris Gayle, Dwayne Smith, Marlon Samuels, Dwayne Bravo, Lendl Simmons, Darren Sammy (capt), Denesh Ramdin (wk), Andre Russell, Kishmar Santokie, Samuel Badree, Sunil Narine, Ravi Rampaul, Johnson Charles, Andre Fletcher, Sheldon Cottrell.