Windies depend on seasoned trio to reach pinnacle again

Updated: Feb 14, 2011, 17:29 PM IST

Mumbai: Dogged by poor form and repeated squabbles with their cricket board over the last few years, West Indies are striving to rediscover the magic that won the Calypso charmers back-to-back World Cup titles in the 1970s.

Pooled in Group B, along with tournament co-hosts India and Bangladesh, England, South Africa, besides minnows Ireland and Netherlands, the Darren Sammy-led West Indies are a far cry from the all-conquering team of "Super Cat" Clive Lloyd.

Still a passage into the last eight, at the very least, remains within their grasp.

However, for this to happen their top three batsmen - former skipper Chris Gayle, Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Ramnaresh Sarwan - need to fire consistently.

The left-handed Gayle is capable of giving the Caribbeans the flying start. Sarwan and Chanderpaul – with their vast experience and ability to play spin well - should
provide the solidity in the middle overs for players such as Dwayne Bravo and the hard-hitting Kieron Pollard to take advantage of.

Gayle, who a few years ago, waded into controversy by showing his disinterest in playing Test cricket, is cherishing the dream of taking the Cup back to where it belonged in the infancy of the championship.

"I`m looking forward to the tournament and the dream is to see the West Indies come out on top," he said during the team`s open media session after arriving in Colombo. The World Cup is the pinnacle of a player`s career and it is good to be part of the tournament. The West Indies have a legacy of winning and I want to give my best to win matches for us," Gayle said.

West Indies have a very tough lung opener against South Africa at Delhi`s Ferozshah Kotla on February 24 after having played a short ODI series in Sri Lanka and a warm-up tie, that they won against Kenya, in the Emerald Isle.

The fact that they have won only once in their last 17 ODIs against the Proteas would weigh heavily on the West Indies.

They need to push this unenviable record against South Africa on the back burner as a winning start against the strong Proteas would give them the momentum.

West Indies, in fact, have gone winless over the last eight ODIs, which includes a 0-2 loss in the three-match series to Sri Lanka in the run-up to the World Cup.

They have a largely inexperienced pace attack in Kemar Roach, Andre Russell and Ravi Rampaul and their performance, with support from the likes of Bravo and Pollard, would also be crucial.

They have two left arm slow bowlers - Suleiman Benn and Nikita Miller - to get purchase on the sub continent tracks.

They also play a match against hosts Bangladesh, after the first two ties in Delhi, in the latter`s backyard before flying back to India to play at Mohali (against Ireland) and Chennai (against England and India in the space of four days).

The Windies progress into the knockout rounds would also depend on the ability of their players to adapt to four different venues before the quarterfinal stage.

West Indies World Cup 15: Darren Sammy (capt), Chris Gayle, Dwayne Bravo, Darren Bravo, Kieron Pollard, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Devon Smith, Sulieman Benn, Nikita Miller, Carlton Baugh (wk), Andre Russell, Ravi Rampaul, Kemar Roach,
Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Adrian Barath.

Preliminary group matches of West Indies: v South Africa (Feb 24, Delhi); v The Netherlands (Feb 28, Delhi); v Bangladesh (Mar 4, Mirpur); v Ireland (Mar 11, Mohali); v England (Mar 17, Chennai); v India (Mar 20, Chennai).