A combination photo of Suresh Raina (L) and Darren Sammy. (AP Photo)
The mind games have begun well ahead of the real game. Middle order batsman Suresh Raina and West Indies captain Darren Sammy traded jibes on the eve of their World T20 clash with the former dubbing the islanders "six hitters" and the latter daring the Indians to try and stop them.
Asked about the threat the explosive opening pair of Chris Gayle and Dwayne Smith could pose, Raina said, "West Indies will be a totally different team as they have a lot of players who can hit sixes but they don't have an idea about how to rotate the strike against spinners by taking singles and twos.
"Therefore, the more pressure we put on the bigger players, better it will be for us."
Elaborating on the role of tweakers, Raina said that overs 7 to 11 would be key against the slower bowlers.
"About facing spinners, it's not that there is great turn (on this track) but some turn available. While shaping up for a shot, you need to come under the ball.
"Your thought-process should be clear. If you think you want to hit it then you should go ahead and if you decide against it then so be it. Between overs 7 and 11, is the time when you need to rotate the strike well. If you get even one loose ball, if you can convert it into fours and sixes, then it's good."
Speaking of India's spin arsenal, Raina said: "We have Mishra, who has done well in the last match. Ashwin has also bowled well and Jadeja is doing well too. But T20 is dependant on who is better on that particular day."
Sammy strikes back
An unamused Darren Sammy replied, "We don't care much about what Raina thinks. If he thinks we are only six hitters, then stop us from hitting sixes."
Stating that West Indies had the "top T20 players around the world", he said, "We have Gayle, Narine, Bravos all of them have a lot of experience playing T20. With the two openers, we have guys who can give us great impetus in the first six overs. Then we have Marlon, Bravo and myself to finish the innings."
"If you look at our bowling unit, we have Narine, who is to me the No 1 bowler in this format. Badree, Bravo, and we have a young guy called Krishmar Santokie, who could have a great impact in this tournament. So we are happy with the balance of our side. And yes we are a very good team especially in this format," he added.
Sammy also said IPL had given his team an advantage as his players knew the opposition were, having shared dressing rooms with them.
"We have a general idea of the Indians because our guys have been in the same dressing room as them during the IPL," he said. "Anyway in this age, there is footage to be seen everywhere. You can watch a player's match and come up with a successful formula to stop him," he said.
But he was not ready to dismiss the Indians lightly. When asked if they would be a tough opponent, he said, "You seriously ask that question? No, I don't think any team is an easy opponent. India started off on a winning note and most likely they will have a lot of confidence going into the game. We know what we are capable of doing and we have been playing some good T20 cricket and the guys are confident that we would come good once we play to our full potential."