Published: 10:24 22/03/2011
Big-hitting opener Chris Gayle is set to return to bolster West Indies brittle batting line up when they face Pakistan in the first quarter-final of the 2011 ICC World Cup in Mirpur on Thursday.
Gayle missed the final group game against India with an abdominal strain but appeared with the squad for practise at the Sher-e-Bangla stadium on Tuesday. He was joined in the nets work out by pace bowler Kemar Roach who missed the 80-run defeat to India with viral fever and a stomach infection and the pair look set to return for the crunch game with Group A winners Pakistan.
After the session, team captain Darren Sammy said: "I liked the way Chris was hitting balls in the nets, he is very committed to the West Indies cause. Come tomorrow, and I have not doubt both he and Kemar will play."
West Indies are the underdogs against Pakistan after throwing away winning positions in the last two games against England and India with inexplicable batting collapses. They lost their last four wickets for three runs to lose to England by 19 runs and fell from 154-2 to 188 all-out against India to leave scraping through to the quarter-finals in fourth position.
In-form Pakistan topped their group after ending Australia’s 34-game unbeaten World Cup record with a four–wicket victory in Colombo on Saturday. Shahid Alfridi is hoping to lead his resurgent side to their first semi-final since 1999 when they reached the final at Lords, but Sammy believes Gayle can help deliver a knock-out blow to the Pakistanis.
Pakistan have been playing good cricket, especially Shahid Afridi who has led from the front," said Sammy. "But we must focus on what we have to do to execute our plans and win the game.
"This is the quarter-final and everything depends on how we play on the day. It does not matter if you are number one or number eight. If you don't win you are out."