Gayle – West Indies Must Go Hard

KOLKATA, India, CMC – Flamboyant opener Chris Gayle says England will pose a major threat in Sunday’s final of the Twenty20 World Cup, and says West Indies must play hard and to their strengths, if they are to come out on top.

West Indies and England clash at Eden Gardens here with both teams gunning for their second T20 World Cup title.

Gayle, widely considered the finest T20 batsman in the game, said England possessed several good players who were all in form, and West Indies would need to be at their best throughout the encounter.

“They have a lot of key players. The guys have been playing good cricket, especially in the batting department,” Gayle said here Saturday.

“Right from the top, Jason (Roy) is in fantastic form, the ever so reliable (Joe) Root always comes and plays a crucial part and you have the finisher (Jos) Buttler down there. So they have some very, very good players.

“We as West Indies have to stick within our game, we know our strengths and we know our weaknesses. We have to stick to our guns and do what we do best out there. Go out there and play a lot of flair cricket, enjoy the moment and the occasion.

“Hopefully we can get that kick start with the bat and with the ball as well, and try and keep them on the back foot as much as possible and from as early as possible.”

West Indies will have fond memories of their seven-wicket win over England in their opening group game when Gayle led the way with a superb unbeaten, even hundred.

Since then, however, England have played unbeaten en route to the final, and were clinical in disposing of the previously unbeaten New Zealand in last Wednesday’s semi-final.

For their part, West Indies have only lost once – to minnows Afghanistan in their final group game – and were magnificent in chasing down 193 to beat tournament favourites India in the second semi-final last Thursday in Mumbai.

Gayle said it was important West Indies remained calm and focus on executing, despite the pressure of the big occasion.

“There are a bit of nerves. It’s a big occasion, it’s a bit final, the last game of the tournament. I think there will be some nerves on both sides but at the same time that’s expected,” the Jamaican said.

“At the same time we have to look to play some good cricket, try and get a good start because it will be difficult to play catch-up cricket especially in a crucial game.

“England are playing good cricket as well that’s why they’re in the final so it should be interesting. Both teams are looking to lift the trophy for the second time so that’s what will make it more interesting as well to see who can actually get their hands on the trophy for the second time. Hopefully West Indies will come out on top this time around.”

West Indies were not mooted as one of the favourites prior to the tournament, with the likes of hosts India and Australia all tipped to make it to the final.

Gayle said this underestimation of the Windies had been disappointing but said they had used it as motivation to do well.

“When you look at our line-up, even without key players like (Sunil) Narine, (Kieron) Pollard … we still had a great back up. Carlos Brathwaite got in in place of Pollard and played a fantastic innings against South Africa to win us games as well,” he pointed out.

“It’s disappointing the media didn’t have us as one of the favourites but here we are today so hopefully we can finish off on a high and lift the trophy. We use those things as motivational factors for us to actually boost us and help us get where we are in today’s T20 game.”

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