Gayle not under pressure: Windies skipper Sammy

Mumbai, March 15 (IANS) Ahead of the World Twenty20 encounter against England, the West Indies skipper Darren Sammy on Tuesday made it clear that swashbuckling batsman Chris Gayle is not under pressure to perform, despite not being in prime form lately.

The left-handed hard-hitting batsman failed to impress in the warm-up game against India, scoring just 18 and the 2012 World T20 winners will hope the 36-year-old Jamaican gets back to form in their campaign opener on Wednesday.

Besides Gayle, opener Johnson Charles, middle-order batsmen Andre Fletcher, Marlon Samuels followed by some world class all-rounders in Sammy, Dwayne Bravo, Andre Russell make them an explosive unit.

“It is up to us to set up the innings very well and we have the most destructive batsman in the world Chris (Gayle). There is never too much pressure on Chris. We know that Chris is a massive figure. But when you look at the dressing room we have Bravo, Russell, Carlos (Brathwaite), that’s a lot of power,” Sammy said at the pre-match press conference ahead of their match at the Wankhede Stadium here.

“The key for us is that each player, must go and do their person role in the team and be responsible and not leaving it or anyone else. The batting must have impact on that day,” he said.

The Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission (Jadco) has revealed that all-rounder Russell has missed three doping tests in the last 12 months. Missing three tests is equal to failing a drug test and therefore the 27-year-old is facing a ban but the skipper said that the team is behind Russell and also hoped that he will be available for the entire competition.

“I am very much confident Russell will get to play the entire competition. We have always had setbacks and we thrived on all things and took that as motivation and went out and have performed well,” he said.

“The way we play, when we played, no other team could match it. We as a team have supported Russell and we are confident he will take part in the whole tournament and make an impact like he has done in the past,” the skipper said.

Star spinner Sunil Narine, reported for a suspected bowling action, all-rounder Kieron Pollard and opener Lendl Simmons have opted out with an injury.

The 32-year-old said the team will miss the trio considering their Indian Premier League (IPL) experience but the current squad still has plenty of match winners.

“It is always difficult to replace someone like Narine, Pollard who had so much experience here. Simmons played here for Mumbai Indians in last two or three seasons, always difficult to replace quality players and their experience,” the 32-year-old said.

“But we have players who can also have the same impact like them. If you look at Carlos, (Johnson) Charles, Evin Lewis, Ashley Nurse — they bring a different variety which can be successful in our line up. Yes we will miss them but that gives an opportunity for others to step up and play.”

When asked if their opponent England can be called the dark horse of the tournament, Sammy said, “I don’t like calling people dark horses, normally we have been called dark horses, they (England) are a good side. We respect every side in the competition.”

“We have seen that T20 has brought teams closer in terms of their competition. They (England) have some guys who have evolved over the last 12 months — Butler, Ben Strokes, all these guys… in the middle with their captain Eoin Morgan — they have good players.

“So we won’t take them for granted. But we normally focus on what we do and we, if we know we could do then we are going to be victorious.”

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