Chris Gayle has described fellow opener Andre Fletcher as a “dangerous” batsman capable of posting big scores after he plundered an unbeaten half century to lead West Indies to a seven wicket victory over Sri Lanka in the T20 World Cup on Sunday.
Fletcher filled the opening slot when Gayle was injured and scored a career-best 84 not out off 64 balls to seal a comfortable win over Sri Lanka, their second win after beating England in their opening fixture.
Gayle said he was looking forward to the rest of the tournament. “I am ready for action and looking forward to playing my role. We have a lot of back-up. I shouldn’t be using this word back-up, we have a lot of guys who are match winners themselves who actually can do the same thing as me and destroy different bowling attacks around the world.”
Gayle is expected to open the batting with Fletcher after two failures by opening partner Johnson Charles. “I’ve opened the batting with him on many occasions so I know what sort of a player he is, he is very dangerous and he’s capable of getting big scores as well. So hopefully he can build on this and carry on.”
The right –handed Fletcher dominated a 39 run first wicket stand with Charles and added 55 in an unbroken fourth wicket stand with Andre Russell to help West Indies overhaul a paltry 123 set by Sri Lanka. Gayle is encouraging Fletcher to play his natural aggressive game and to continue batting deep into the innings.
“You have to pick and choose your bowlers who you want to target at particular times and what works for him as well. Continue being aggressive in the first six overs and try and capitalize on that new ball as a batter,” Gayle advised.
“You just have to keep that aggression going …try and take it as deep as possible… still look to pick up the odd boundaries in between the middle overs as well and build on whatever start you get.”.
Gayle took the Man-of-the-Match award with a boundary-studded 100 not out off 48 balls as Windies beat England in their opening match.
“I wasn’t really thinking about the hundred because if you look at the way we started, after facing the first over, in the second Marlon (Samuels) came in and he actually batted the entire Powerplay. I was saying to myself, regardless of what happens, I need to be here, and the good thing about it is that Marlon was getting the ball away and keeping the run rate intact so it was very important to be there then.”
Gayle added that the turning point was hitting England offspinner Moeen Ali for three consecutive sixes: “I got some momentum when I took down Moeen Ali. The momentum was actually built from there and when the rest of the bowlers come to bowl in the back end, we’re always going to be on the go.
That’s when the opportunity presented itself. I had done the hard work already, so I said, ‘I’ve done the hard work, let’s get the hundred’. At that point, we were way ahead, and I wasn’t going to risk it, and batting there with Andre Russell we just wanted to finish off things. When I got to 96 or something like that, that was the time I said I’ll get the hundred. Hopefully I can follow-up with more innings like this,” said Gayle.
The Windies arrived in Nagpur on Monday afternoon where they are preparing to face South Africa on Friday.