Darren Sammy has sounded a big warning to England ahead of Sunday’s Twenty20 World Cup final, insisting the West Indies can claim the silverware even if talisman Chris Gayle fails to fire.
The West Indies edged out India with two balls to spare in a seven-wicket win in yesterday’s Mumbai semi-final, last-minute injury replacement Lendl Simmons blasting a match-winning, unbeaten 83.
Star man Gayle bludgeoned 100 from just 48 balls when the West Indies toppled England by six wickets in the group stages on 16 March and now the teams will meet again in Sunday’s silverware showpiece in Kolkata.
While Gayle will once again be the danger man, captain Sammy claimed yesterday’s big scorers Simmons, Johnson Charles or Andre Russell could easily upset England this weekend.
“We said it even before the tournament started: everybody said Chris is under pressure, but I said then that yes, Chris is our best player but we have 15 match-winners in this squad,” said Sammy.
“Games are won when players take responsibility, and Charles, Simmons and Russell took that responsibility against a very good Indian team.”
Simmons three times escaped dismissal despite being caught, twice for no-balls and once when Ravindra Jadeja stepped onto the boundary line when fielding a late slog.
The 31-year-old only jetted into the country on Tuesday, seizing his chance after a hamstring injury to Andre Fletcher. Simmons missed the initial squad cut due a back complaint of his own, however he showed no signs of rust on his Indian Premier League stomping ground for the Mumbai Indians.
Virat Kohli must have thought his unbeaten 89 in India’s 192 for two would just about see the host nation home, only for Simmons to ride his luck and turn the tide.
Charles’ 52 and Russell’s unbeaten 43 offered Simmons the necessary support to leave India ruing missed opportunities, especially on home soil.
The West Indies entered the tournament after a protracted stand-off with their cricket board over attempted reductions in their match fees.
A boycott from the senior players was avoided at the 11th hour, but after reaching the final Sammy claimed the matter is not yet closed in many of the players’ eyes.
“We all know what happened just before the tournament,” he said, “and we still feel it’s this West Indies team and this coaching staff versus everybody else.”
India captain MS Dhoni was left to rue weather conditions that denied his spinners enough traction on the surface to pose the West Indies any real problems.
“I think losing the toss was pivotal,” he said. “The spinners didn’t have an effect because of the dew and that made it very difficult for us. So we were disappointed about the two no-balls, but other than that the boys tried their best.”