Windies launch Twenty20 dream
Riding high on wins in their warm-up matches, a confident West Indies will clash with hosts South Africa to launch the inaugural ICC Twenty20 World Cup.
The regional side beat both Kenya and New Zealand convincingly at the weekend, and will be hoping to continue this trend against the Proteas when they meet at the New Wanderers Stadium at 12:00 pm (Eastern Caribbean time).
"I think we have a very good chance. We haven't only played well in the warm-up games, but we played well in England and it will give us a lot of confidence if we continue to play the way we have been playing," captain Ramnaresh Sarwan told a media conference after the team's practice session yesterday.
"We have a very rounded team with a lot of all-rounders mixed with batters and in this form of the game you need those players who are all-rounders.
"It is a very big game. Both teams will be gunning for the win. It will be a very good game, an interesting one and we'll be hoping to pull off a win like we did in the opening game in the World Cup a few years ago.
"It is very important for us as a young team to give a good account of ourselves in this tournament."
West Indies will take positives from their two warm-up matches to date. Against Kenya on Saturday, Marlon Samuels shone with a whirlwind 63 from 30 balls, while Shivnarine Chanderpaul sustained his prolific form with an unbeaten 46.
Against the Black Caps on Sunday, Dwayne Smith hinted at form with 47, while Narsingh Deonarine gathered 34. Sarwan, along with opener Devon Smith and vice-captain Chris Gayle will be depended upon for crucial runs.
Sarwan said, however, that team management were prepared to be flexible with the batting order.
"You have to be flexible and leave options open. I'm sure there are times when you will have to promote batters who are more suitable to the situation," Sarwan noted.
"There are likely to be changes in terms of the batting order."
In both matches, the Windies bowling has looked impressive. While Smith picked up two wickets against Kenya, fast bowler Daren Powell and medium pacer Darren Sammy claimed three-wicket hauls.
Sarwan said the faster bowlers were expected to play a key role in building the foundation for a West Indies triumph.
"The fast bowlers up in front have a huge part to play in terms of restricting the opposition," Sarwan explained.
"There are six overs of fielding restrictions and the batsmen always try to make the best use of those six overs so the fast bowlers have their task cut out for them at the start of the innings.
"Fortunately for us Daren has been bowling pretty well along with Ravi (Rampaul) and Fidel (Edwards). It is a matter of us continuing and encouraging them to do the right things, the things which they have been doing so far which is being patient while getting the ball in the right areas.
"For us it is a matter of us sticking to our plans like in any other game where we set ourselves plans and we want to achieve them.
"At the end of the day nothing has really changed much. The games goes at a very fast pace, but it is very important for us to stay focussed and concentrate on what we have to do."
South Africa, tipped as one of the favourites in the near two-week tournament, will not be easy opponents as shown in their eight-wicket demolition of Australia in a warm-up match Sunday.