New Delhi: He is one of the most devastating batsmen in one-day cricket but West Indies opener Chris Gayle is not satisfied being just that and intends to emerge as the best all-rounder of the ongoing World Cup.
"I want to be the best all-rounder in the World Cup. I should be able to do a bit of bowling and get a few wickets as well and also set up a good total for the team," Gayle quipped when asked about his personal milestone in the World Cup.
West Indies will be opening their campaign against South Africa on Thursday and Gayle feels Graeme Smith`s men are beatable and they need to go discreetly about their job.
"We are playing one of the favourites in South Africa and they are a top quality side in both batting and bowling. We have to be on our A game and capitalise on opportunities. They are beatable. We need to be discreet about the way we go about things," Gayle, a part-time off-spinner, said after his team`s practice session here.
"The preparation has been good. We came from Sri Lanka, of course things didn`t go according to our plan but at the same time it is a big occasion and we want to get a winning start here.”
"The key is to get a good start and in this new format, the top four get to the quarterfinals and that would be the objective and then anything is possible. We have not done well in the two World Cups that I played and I hope things turn here. We need to have the self belief," he added.
The former skipper said he has his task cut out and he would be leading the batting line up, which has a few debutantes.
"I am the first one to face the ball, so I would lead the batting. Young Darren Bravo can bat really well. He is a key player, though it is his first World Cup. He has been batting well," Gayle said.
"Unfortunately Barath missed out. We also have two experienced players in Shivnarine (Chanderpaul) and (Ramnaresh) Sarwan. Dwayne Bravo, Darren Sammy, Kieron Pollard all can bat well," he added.
Gayle also hoped Dwayne, who has been a bit off colour, would regain his form in the World Cup.
"Bravo is a kind of player who can come like a firework and get that buzz around and bring the energy back in the team. He is a positive player, I am not too worried about him.”
Asked how they would adjust to the conditions in India, the 31-year-old Jamaican said they need to make necessary adjustments.
"We have to make necessary adjustments. We have a couple of young guys in the side. We know the wicket here would be slow but we would like to wait and see how the conditions are and adjust our game accordingly," he said.
"The bounce is a bit shorter here, in Sri Lanka it was bigger. The outfields are very fast. It is a challenge for bowlers, but spinners do well here," he added.
Gayle also felt that batsmen would win more matches during this quadrennial event. "Batters will get runs and teams which bat well will win more games but we are not taking anything away from the bowlers. They are capable and know how to go about their business," he said.
Gayle also described opener Virender Sehwag`s innings against Bangladesh as brilliant.
"Brilliant innings from Sehwag. We all know what he is capable of. He is one of the most dangerous batsmen around," he said when asked about Sehwag`s innings in the opening match between India and Bangladesh on Saturday.
Asked about the prospect of achieving a double century in the World Cup after Sehwag came close to it during his 140-ball 175 run innings, Gayle said it was a possibility.
"The master blaster got a double century. Sehwag has played such a good innings. If you stay back and play longer, it can be achieved. It is a possibility. Sachin has done it, Sehwag can do that," he said.
Asked if he fancied a chance to get to the double hundred, Gayle quipped, "Well, if I can get a chance, I`ll definitely chase it."
Injuries have taken a toll on West Indies and even before facing a single ball in the World Cup, the Caribbeans lost two of their key players in Adrian Barath and Carlton Baugh and Gayle said it was a setback for them.
"It is a setback, losing two players who have been doing well. Adrian Barath had been batting well, it is unfortunate. But there are two new guys and we are trying to put them in the comfort zone as soon as possible," he said.
Asked if it is possible to regain the past aura for the West Indies, champions during the 1975 and 1979 World Cup, Gayle said it will happen with time.
"It is difficult to compare the past and present. We have some young and inexperienced players but we are all big men and we need to take that responsibility. We have to give some time. Things won`t happen overnight, we need to rebuild as much as possible," he said.
Gayle said the inclusion of powerplays has infused excitement in 50 over cricket, a format that was struggling due to the advent of Twenty20s.
"I don`t see 50 over cricket dying down. I don`t see that happening. From a cricketing point of view, things are going fine. Two powerplays have made it more exciting, so it is going good.”
"Twenty20 and 50 overs are very different. In 50 overs, you can give yourself a chance to settle in but in Twenty20, you have to go from the start," he said.