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Gayle retains positive outlook

West Indies captain Chris Gayle is determined to put Wednesday's warm-up defeat to New Zealand behind him when the hosts open their ICC World T20 campaign against Ireland today.

Ireland have upset the odds on the world stage a few times. The concern for West Indies have been their form which is far from consistent.

Having been set a target of 125 to win their final match before facing Group D rivals Ireland, Gayle and fellow opener Shivnarine Chanderpaul reach 68 before the skipper was bowled by Jacob Oram for 35 off 27 balls in the ninth over.

West Indies even looked set for victory when Chanderpaul was caught by Aaron Redmond off Shane Bond for 53 in 47 balls with the score at 98 for five in the 17th over but the remaining five wickets were lost for just 19 runs as medium pacer Scott Styris ripped out the middle order with four for 18 in four overs and New Zealand sealed a seven-run victory with two balls left.

"It wasn't ideal, chasing 120-odd you always think that is gettable in a T20 game," said Gayle.

"We had a good start with the ball, the guys pulled together in the field, but the concern was the batting department.

"Myself and Shiv gave the team a good start, but things deteriorated from there. Maybe we took things for granted and we ended up losing the game.

"It wasn't the start we wanted leading into the competition but we need to put that behind us and concentrate on the Ireland game."

Gayle admitted to injury concerns over bowling duo Sulieman Benn and Jerome Taylor ahead of the sold-out Ireland game.

"We have some niggling injuries from the last few days and they are a concern so we'll have to wait and see," the captain said.

"Taylor is struggling a bit with his shoulder and has twisted his ankle and now we have a situation where Benn's shoulder isn't looking too good either.

"So we are on the back foot a bit and will have to wait and see what happens."

Regardless of selection problems, Gayle is aware of the pressure the West Indies are under to perform well as tournament hosts.

"There's pressure for us to deliver, we are at home and the expectation is high. We know the conditions well and there shouldn't be any excuses.

"But in T20 every team should have a chance of winning so we shouldn't be favourites at the start."

Meanwhile, Ireland's Trent Johnston believes the team can be encouraged by the West Indies' warm-up defeat to New Zealand when they open their campaign against the hosts at the Guyana National Stadium.

"Chris Gayle and (Shivnarine) Chanderpaul will be coming at us hard on Friday night and so if we can contain those guys, get a couple of early wickets - as we saw against New Zealand - then we can put the West Indies under a bit of pressure," Johnston said.

"If Scott Styris can get wickets against them then we've got three or four Scott Styrises in our team, bowling at the sort of pace he bowls.

"So it's a good sign for us. We've got the likes of myself, Andre (Botha), Alex Cusack and Kevin O'Brien.

"We're not guys who are going to scare anyone with our pace but with our variation and if we execute our skills, they're going to be under a bit of pressure now after that result, being the home side, playing the opening date at a packed house.

"Hopefully we can come out and cause what we would expect with a victory but what everyone else would say is an upset."

Ireland coach Phil Simmons, who played 26 Test matches and 143 one-day internationals for the West Indies between 1987 and 1999, was adamant that his side's reverses this week to New Zealand and fellow qualifiers Afghanistan had not dampened the expectations he had set out for the players.

"Definitely, it doesn't make a difference," Simmons said. "I think, when we play like we built up to play the last two games in Trinidad, for instance, we know we can do it.

"Our expectations are always going to be high so we push ourselves to achieve things that a lot of people doubt we can achieve.

"That's the way we look at it."

Nor will Simmons let any sentiment get in the way as he prepares Ireland to take on his old team in their Group D opener.

"I wouldn't say there's extra feeling," Simmons said of playing the West Indies.

"It's a thing that's good. It's nice to play against the West Indies just as much as the other guys who'll be happy when we play against England next week.

"At the end of the day when I turn up here on Friday, it's Ireland versus the West Indies. And it could be Ireland versus anybody, it's the same way I feel."
 

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Gayle retains positive outlook

West Indies captain Chris Gayle is determined to put Wednesday's warm-up defeat to New Zealand behind him when the hosts open their ICC World T20 campaign against Ireland today.

Ireland have upset the odds on the world stage a few times. The concern for West Indies have been their form which is far from consistent.

Having been set a target of 125 to win their final match before facing Group D rivals Ireland, Gayle and fellow opener Shivnarine Chanderpaul reach 68 before the skipper was bowled by Jacob Oram for 35 off 27 balls in the ninth over.

West Indies even looked set for victory when Chanderpaul was caught by Aaron Redmond off Shane Bond for 53 in 47 balls with the score at 98 for five in the 17th over but the remaining five wickets were lost for just 19 runs as medium pacer Scott Styris ripped out the middle order with four for 18 in four overs and New Zealand sealed a seven-run victory with two balls left.

"It wasn't ideal, chasing 120-odd you always think that is gettable in a T20 game," said Gayle.

"We had a good start with the ball, the guys pulled together in the field, but the concern was the batting department.

"Myself and Shiv gave the team a good start, but things deteriorated from there. Maybe we took things for granted and we ended up losing the game.

"It wasn't the start we wanted leading into the competition but we need to put that behind us and concentrate on the Ireland game."

Gayle admitted to injury concerns over bowling duo Sulieman Benn and Jerome Taylor ahead of the sold-out Ireland game.

"We have some niggling injuries from the last few days and they are a concern so we'll have to wait and see," the captain said.

"Taylor is struggling a bit with his shoulder and has twisted his ankle and now we have a situation where Benn's shoulder isn't looking too good either.

"So we are on the back foot a bit and will have to wait and see what happens."

Regardless of selection problems, Gayle is aware of the pressure the West Indies are under to perform well as tournament hosts.

"There's pressure for us to deliver, we are at home and the expectation is high. We know the conditions well and there shouldn't be any excuses.

"But in T20 every team should have a chance of winning so we shouldn't be favourites at the start."

Meanwhile, Ireland's Trent Johnston believes the team can be encouraged by the West Indies' warm-up defeat to New Zealand when they open their campaign against the hosts at the Guyana National Stadium.

"Chris Gayle and (Shivnarine) Chanderpaul will be coming at us hard on Friday night and so if we can contain those guys, get a couple of early wickets - as we saw against New Zealand - then we can put the West Indies under a bit of pressure," Johnston said.

"If Scott Styris can get wickets against them then we've got three or four Scott Styrises in our team, bowling at the sort of pace he bowls.

"So it's a good sign for us. We've got the likes of myself, Andre (Botha), Alex Cusack and Kevin O'Brien.

"We're not guys who are going to scare anyone with our pace but with our variation and if we execute our skills, they're going to be under a bit of pressure now after that result, being the home side, playing the opening date at a packed house.

"Hopefully we can come out and cause what we would expect with a victory but what everyone else would say is an upset."

Ireland coach Phil Simmons, who played 26 Test matches and 143 one-day internationals for the West Indies between 1987 and 1999, was adamant that his side's reverses this week to New Zealand and fellow qualifiers Afghanistan had not dampened the expectations he had set out for the players.

"Definitely, it doesn't make a difference," Simmons said. "I think, when we play like we built up to play the last two games in Trinidad, for instance, we know we can do it.

"Our expectations are always going to be high so we push ourselves to achieve things that a lot of people doubt we can achieve.

"That's the way we look at it."

Nor will Simmons let any sentiment get in the way as he prepares Ireland to take on his old team in their Group D opener.

"I wouldn't say there's extra feeling," Simmons said of playing the West Indies.

"It's a thing that's good. It's nice to play against the West Indies just as much as the other guys who'll be happy when we play against England next week.

"At the end of the day when I turn up here on Friday, it's Ireland versus the West Indies. And it could be Ireland versus anybody, it's the same way I feel."
You may be right.But how could be you so confirmed about the most unpredictable game?
 
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