NAPIER: West Indies captain Jason Holder expects Chris Gayle to be available for Saturday’s all-important quarter-final clash against New Zealand, despite the talismanic opener missing the final group game yesterday against United Arab Emirates with injury.
“He has had the same back problem he has had for a year and he has good days and bad days,” Holder told reporters following his side’s six-wicket win at McLean Park.
“But he is a crucial player for us going into the quarter-final. He will be up for it, even if he is not 100 per cent. He is a big game player and we all know what he can do on those days.”
Gayle has struggled with a recurring back problem in recent years which has hampered his fitness and form. It led to his withdrawal from the recent Test tour of South Africa. He entered the World Cup averaging 14 over the last 20 months and despite a World record 215 against Zimbabwe, has managed just 64 runs in his other four innings in the tournament.
His place against UAE was taken by opener Johnson Charles, who stroked a top score of 55 off 40 balls in what was his first game since flying in recently as a late replacement for the injured Darren Bravo. With Gayle expected to return and opener Dwayne Smith managing a mere 93 runs from six matches, Holder said Charles would definitely be in contention for the quarter-final in Wellington.
“Obviously Johnson played a very good innings and has probably pretty much secured his spot for the next game but we will sit down, see the conditions and pick the team,” Holder said. West Indies finished level on Ireland on six points in Group B but sneaked into the top four courtesy of a superior net run rate.