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We can defend title: Sammy

Dhaka: As the West Indies launch the defence of their World T20 title, won 18 months ago, against India on Sunday, Darren Sammy admitted they were feeling the pressure. But he said that they have their game plan in place and were taking it match by match.

“There is always pressure, plus we are the defending champions,” said the West Indies captain on Saturday. “This time, our players are a lot more experienced.

“Last time, our key players had a brilliant tournament. And the key was even though someone did not perform in a match, we stuck together as a team. This time it’s even more important that our key guys perform consistently.

“As a team, we now have more belief that we can defend the trophy. We have to focus on each game, and tomorrow all our focus is on India. After we do that, we again sit together and look at the roadmap to the title and come up with a plan for the next match.

“But tomorrow is all about India and what we could do to overcome them.”

Sammy took immense pride in the composition of the team and felt therein lies the secret to their success.

“We have top T20 players who have played around the world. We have Gayle, Narine, (Dwayne) Bravo… All of them have a lot of experience playing T20,” said Sammy.

“The two openers (Gayle and Dwayne Smith) we have, they are guys who can give us great impetus in the first six overs. Then we have Marlon (Samuels), Bravo and myself to finish the innings. If you look at our bowling unit, we have (Sunil) Narine, who is to me the No. 1 bowler in this format.

“We also have (Samuel) Badree, Bravo, and a young guy called Krishmar Santokie who could have a great impact in this tournament. We are happy with the balance of our side, and yes, we are a very good team especially in this format.

“The good thing about our team is that we don’t rely on any one player. We have at least four-five-six potential match-winners in our side…

“Yes, spin will play an important part in this tournament and the team which handles spin better will come out victorious but, like I said, I am quite happy about the team we have here.

“In the short format, the bulk of the runs will come from the top-four or five batsmen… We are very strong at the top of the order with Marlon, (Lendl) Simmons, me and Bravo in the middle order, so we are not looking at any one person but as a team,” he said.

Sammy didn’t wish to read much into the fact that players of both the teams were quite familiar to each other in this format, courtesy the IPL.

“Cricket is a game of shifting confidence… You can know your opponent from the last time you have played but he went back and worked on his game. To me, it’s about going out there and using the conditions right rather than looking at the other’s game.

“In this time and age, they have footage everywhere. You can see the last match played by any cricketer and come up with a formula you think might work.

“But we have a general idea of what their side is and what they are capable of. Tomorrow’s match will be keenly contested, a match we will want to win. It will be good to start a big tournament on a winning note.”

But what’s going through Gayle’s mind? “I am not Jesus Christ... I don’t know what’s going on in his mind…. But I know he is really pumped up to play here. Whenever he is playing for the West Indies, he is very pumped up,” quipped Sammy.