Confident West Indies Leave for Sri Lanka

Bridgetown (Barbados), Sep 10 (IANS/CMC): The West Indies cricket team flew out of the region, high in confidence, enroute to Sri Lanka for the ICC World Twenty20 tournament.

Just before take-off Sunday, captain Darren Sammy urged fans to continue to "rally around the West Indies" saying his team was already "feeling the love" from supporters across the Caribbean, reports CMC.

The players spent the last nine days in Barbados, where they held a preparatory camp under head coach Ottis Gibson at the Sagicor High Performance Centre.

"The people are really behind us and that's a fantastic feeling," said Sammy.

"The players in the team have been talking about it and everyone is excited and very happy to see the way the people have come out and offered their support."

Several current and past professional players around the world have ranked the Windies as favourites going into the tournament.

Their 15-man squad includes several of the world's leading Twenty20 cricketers such as Chris Gayle, Kieron Pollard, Dwayne Bravo and Sunil Narine.

"We are a strong unit and as the coach said a few days ago, we have depth in the squad. Everyone is aware of his role and knows exactly what is required." Said Sammy.

"This is a huge tournament for the team and the fans as well, so we will go to Sri Lanka and give it all we've got. We believe we can win, but it will be hard, tough work."

While sessions at the training camp were held at indoor and outdoor nets, players also focused on improving their fitness as well as their ability to play spin using a new machine on the market.

"A few days ago, we played two practice matches at the Three Ws Oval here in Barbados, and it was truly amazing to see how many fans came out to watch the matches, talk to us, and encourage us," recalled Sammy.

"People have been talking to us on the streets and have just been warm and friendly."

The World T20 Tournament, which features 12 teams, will be played from Sep 18 to Oct 7.

The West Indies have been drawn in Group B along with Australia and Ireland - and both first round matches will be played at the Premadasa Stadium in Sri Lanka capital of Colombo.

"Sri Lanka is a really nice place to play cricket and a great place to visit," said the West Indies captain.

"The conditions should be helpful to our style of play and we just want to go out and play a brand of cricket that would bring joy to our supporters all over the World."

The West Indies play their first match against the Aussies Sep 22 followed by a clash with the Irish Sep 24.


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