COLOMBO, Sri Lanka -- West Indies will get their first taste of action in Sri Lanka on Thursday when they face the host nation in the opening official warm-up match ahead of the International Cricket Council’s World T20 tournament.
The Windies arrived in Colombo on Tuesday morning after a 20-hour journey from Barbados. They hit the ground running on Wednesday morning with an open media session and photo-shoots, followed by a full training session in the afternoon at the P Sara Oval, home of the Tamil Union Cricket & Athletic Club.
One player eagerly looking forward to Thursday’s start is Chris Gayle, who summed up the mood in the team when he said: “It’s time to get going... this is what we’ve come here for.”
The warm-up match against the host nation will be played at Nondescripts Cricket Club Ground in Colombo.
Gayle, the massive six-footer, is known worldwide as the most destructive batsman in the T20 format. He is the most successful West Indian in this version of the game with 757 runs in 23 matches at a strike rate of just under 144. His 117 against South Africa in the inaugural World T20 in 2007 is the highest score and only century by a West Indian.
“The World T20 is ‘gonna’ be a cracker! You can feel it already. We’ve only been here 24 hours and already you get the feeling there is something special in the air,” Gayle said on Wednesday morning. “We are away from home and we have to adapt to the conditions as quickly as possible. We want to make a solid start and look to put the other teams under some pressure.
“When you look at our team you can say we are well balanced. In these tournaments the best we achieved was the semi-finals in England back in 2009. We didn’t do so well when it was played at home back in 2010 so we want to get it together this time around. Once we stick to what we know, I don’t see any reason why we can’t go all the way.”
The 32-year-old added: “I’m really looking forward to it. There are a lot of competitive teams here. Every team has a chance to win ... there’s not going to be any walkovers. No one is going to take anyone for granted and we have to be at our best at all times. We want to get off to a good start and also look to be there at the end when the semi-finals and finals are played.”
Gayle has great memories of Sri Lanka. Two years ago he made his highest Test score of 333 against the home side at Galle.
“To get that triple century was great for me... I have some happy memories here in Sri Lanka. I am hoping to use that as a booster to bigger and better things during the tournament. We know what we’re about... we know what we are here for,” Gayle said.
The World T20 tournament, which features 12 teams, will be played from September 18 to October 7. The West Indies have been drawn in Group B alongside Australia and Ireland and both first round matches will be at the Premadasa Stadium in Colombo. Their opening match will be against the Aussies on Saturday, September 22 followed by a clash with the Irish on Monday, September 24.
FULL SQUAD: Darren Sammy (Captain), Dwayne Bravo (Vice Captain), Samuel Badree, Darren Bravo, Johnson Charles, Fidel Edwards, Chris Gayle, Kieron Pollard, Sunil Narine, Denesh Ramdin (Wicket-keeper), Ravi Rampaul, Andre Russell, Marlon Samuels, Lendl Simmons, Dwayne Smith
Thursday, Sept 13: vs Sri Lanka - NCC, Colombo
Monday, Sept 17: vs Afghanistan - P Sara Oval, Colombo
First round matches
Saturday, Sept 22: vs Australia - R Premadasa Stadium, Colombo
Monday, Sept 24: vs Ireland - R Premadasa Stadium, Colombo
Super Eight matches
Thursday, Sept 27: C1 v D2 - Pallekele
Thursday, Sept 27: A1 v B2 - Pallekele
Friday, Sept 28: D1 v C2 - Colombo
Friday, Sept 28: B1 v A2 - Colombo
Saturday, Sept 29: A1 v D2 - Pallekele
Saturday, Sept 29: C1 v B2 - Pallekele
Sunday Sept 30: B1 v C2 - Colombo
Sunday Sept 30: D1 v A2 - Colombo
Monday, Oct 1: B2 v D2 - Pallekele
Monday, Oct 1: A1 v C1 - Pallekele
Tuesday, Oct 2: B1 v D1 - Colombo
Tuesday, Oct 2: A2 v C2 - Colombo
Thursday, October 4: Super 8 Group 1-1 vs Super 8 Group 2-2 - R Premadasa Stadium
Friday, October 5: Super 8 Group 2-1 vs Super 8 Group 1-2 - R Premadasa Stadium
Grand Final: Sunday, October 7 - R Premadasa Stadium