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29-Apr-2010 16:10:00 GMT
WI vs IRE, 2nd Match, Guyana

West Indies Look to Gayle Force in Ireland Opener

Providence: West Indies captain Chris Gayle struck Australia fast bowler Brett Lee for 27 runs in one over at last year's World Twenty20 so Ireland's attack could be forgiven for fearing the worst.

Hosts West Indies face Ireland, looking for yet more giantkilling success, on the first day of this year's World Twenty20 on Friday.

One consolation for Ireland is that the form of the West Indies in general and Gayle in particular is far from consistent.

But if Gayle, whose 117 against South Africa in the inaugural 2007 edition remains the only century at a World Twenty20, does find his form then Ireland's bowlers will be hard pressed to keep him in check.

This month the West Indies beat Ireland by six wickets on the Duckworth/Lewis method in a one-day international in Jamaica but trying to apply conclusions from other forms of cricket to Twenty20 is fraught with risk.

Logically, West Indies should win but Ireland have enjoyed upsetting the odds on the world stage.

At last year's World Twenty20 they beat Test nation Bangladesh and at the 2007 World Cup in the Caribbean they knocked former champions Pakistan out of the tournament.

Ireland relish their role as underdogs on the big stage but for the home side are under pressure.

The team was reduced to a bit-part role at the 2007 World Cup and defeat on Friday would lead to more frustration amongst their fans who recently saw the team beaten by Zimbabwe in a one-day international, although the West Indies did go on to win that series 4-1.

It is six years since the West Indies won a major international tournament, the 2004 Champions Trophy and batsman Ramnaresh Sarwan, a veteran of that success, believes the current side are in a position to make the most of their local knowledge.

"We have a very good chance of winning this competition. We are at home and that gives us an advantage," he said.

"What is important is that we play as a team and try and support each other as much as we can, whether it's in the field or when we are batting or bowling. "We hope we can do it on a consistent basis."

Ireland may entrust eight overs to teenage spinners George Dockrell and Paul Stirling, who both got through their full quota in Tuesday's 40-run warm-up defeat by New Zealand, with Dockrell taking three wickets.

It was in 1969 that Ireland made the cricket world sit up and take notice by dismissing the touring West Indies for just 25 on what remains one of the most famous days in Irish cricket history.

Now Ireland are coached by a former West Indies batsman in Phil Simmons and he reckons the compressed nature of Twenty20 makes upsets more likely.

"I think it's easier to pull off a shock in Twenty20 because recovery time is less than in 50 overs," said Simmons.

"We have played that little bit more Twenty20 than we had going into the last World Cup - so we are slightly wiser about Twenty20 cricket. That has to be a good thing."

Team from

West Indies
West Indies have a couple of injury concerns, with Jerome Taylor struggling with shoulder and ankle trouble and Sulieman Benn battling a shoulder injury. It is unclear whether Benn will play but Kieron Pollard, who missed the warm-up match against New Zealand with flu, should be good to go.

Squad from Chris Gayle (C), Sulieman Benn, Dwayne Bravo, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Narsingh Deonarine, Andre Fletcher (WK), Wavell Hinds, Nikita Miller, Kieron Pollard, Denesh Ramdin (VC & WK), Ravi Rampaul, Kemar Roach, Darren Sammy, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Jerome Taylor

Ireland Ireland, of course, have nothing but fond memories to fall back on from 2007. That was the tournament in which they announced themselves as the best of the rest, with a thrilling St Patrick's Day victory over Pakistan that carried them into the Super Eights stage of the contest.

Squad from William Porterfield (C), Andre Botha, Peter Connell, Alex Cusack, George Dockrell, Trent Johnston, Nigel Jones, Gary Kidd, John Mooney, Niall O'Brien (WK), Boyd Rankin, Paul Stirling, Andrew White, Gary Wilson (WK), Kevin O'Brien

Pitch and conditions
The Providence wicket promises to be slow and low, and therefore it could well play into the hands of one of the rising stars of Ireland cricket.

Stats and trivia

  • Ireland have never been West Indies in an official international contest, although they have only faced each other on three previous occasions, all in ODIs, with two defeats and one wash-out.
  • West Indies were, however, the victims in one of the most memorable moments for Irish cricket, at Sion Mills in 1969, when they were bowled out for 25 en route to a nine-wicket defeat.

Match facts
Friday April 30, 2010 (day/night)
Start time 17:00 local (21:00 GMT)

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