Darren Sammy was asked at the media conference on Wednesday whether he was worried about Virat Kohli’s form. His reply was, “Have you ever heard about Chris Gayle?” The West Indin openers average 42, the highest among all teams in the Super 10s stage, and Sammy’s confidence seems justified. On the other hand, the Indian openers Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan average a mere 11, the lowest.
While India are still the favourites to go through to the final, facing the odds is something Sammy and his men have become accustomed to. Even before the World T20 campaign began, the skipper had spoken of the victimisation the players suffered at the hands of the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB). The team also lost some key players like Kieron Pollard and Sunil Narine for different, individual reasons however never lost hope.
Sammy was asked how the West Indies players manage to keep their spirits up despite the setbacks. He felt the “lack of respect” shown towards the team only brought the players “closer together.”
“We think it is us against the world. That 15 players and the support staff. It is just us, our own new circle against the world and that’s how we’ve gone out and played. And tomorrow is no bigger day to express that because I don’t think we have one Indian supporter so it’s going to be a massive game and it’s a challenge that we are ready for.”
Sammy knows a loss tomorrow could possibly bring an end to his international career. This could also be the case for a few of his team-mates. But, as a motivator in the side, Sammy wants to look ahead, instead of brooding.
“We came into the tournament as No. 1[India were ranked No. 1, West Indies were 2]. Nobody gave us a chance. A lot was said about us which we have not spoken about. We will have our moment. But, as I said, it is six steps to the Cup. We have taken four. We had little potholes in the road, but we have dusted ourselves off and we are going the step [up] tomorrow against India.”
India, Sammy was told, are 80-20 favorites going into the semi-final. That did not mean much to him. “It feels like David and Goliath, but people tend to forgot David won the fight,” Sammy said with a smile.
West Indies players have done well in the tournament. Gayle made a belligerent hundred against England while Marlon Samuels played a mature knock against South Africa. Andre Fletcher, opening in place of the injured Gayle in Bangalore, took West Indies home against Sri Lanka. The spinners, Samuel Badree and Sulieman Benn, have kept the opposition quiet and bowled with guile and accuracy.
Sammy pointed to these examples as the positive steps West Indies have taken to advance in the tournament. “The key word was responsibility. It was one of the main words we use in the dressing room. Someone taking the responsibility to bring the team home, not leaving it for anyone in the dressing room. The three games we won, the first game Chris batted throughout the innings, the second game it was Fletcher, the third one Marlon Samuels took us really close. We didn’t have that against Afghanistan chasing a low total. It’s about each person taking ownership of the job that is required out there, not leaving it for anybody else,” Sammy said.
About the areas for the team to work on he said, “We haven’t played the perfect game yet. We are stressing on rotation of strike and stuff. We are aware, it is clear that we are a boundary-hitting team. We look at the dot-ball percentage, probably it is 40-50%.”
Sammy pointed out one area they can learn from India was seizing the momentum. “It is about continuing that way and it is going to be a 240-ball event. It is all about momentum. And we are very aware India are a very good team at seizing momentum. Once we don’t let them win too many events in that 240 [balls] and seize the momentum in that period of the match, we back ourselves to do that, he concluded.