Gayle backs ‘Red Force’ for Champions LeagueBy KERN RAMLOCHAN Sports Editor Friday, September 16 2011
OPENING BATSMAN Chris Gayle has backed Trinidad and Tobago to win the Nokia Champions League T20 which bowls off Monday in Hyderabad, India.
Trinidad and Tobago left on Wednesday for India and will play Sri Lanka Twenty20 champions Ruhuna on Monday at the Rajiv Ghandi Stadium followed by English Twenty20 champions Leicestershire the next day at the same venue for a place in the main draw.
“They have been playing good T20 cricket for the last couple of years and can win if they qualify for the main draw,” said Gayle.
He lamented the fact that they were forced to qualify but felt that the depth in the squad will make the “Red Force” a lethal threat at the tournament.
“It is unfortunate that they have to play in the qualifier. They have been playing good T20 cricket and they have been dominant in the Caribbean,” noted Gayle.
He added, “They have the experience from being there so they know what it is like. Definitely I am confident that they will do well and qualify, they will go past the qualifying stage and hopefully do well in the preliminary rounds.”
Trinidad and Tobago will be without all-rounders Dwayne Bravo and Kieron Pollard who have opted to play for their Indian Premier League Clubs (IPL). Bravo will represent defending champions Chennai Super Kings and Pollard Mumbai Indians. However, Gayle is confident that Trinidad and Tobago will not miss the duo because of abundance of talent being produced by the Trinidad and Tobago Cricket Board.
When asked about Trinidad and Tobago’s ability to compete at the Champions League Gayle said, “Yes they definitely can...I mean you saw it in the regional tournament. Bravo and Pollard did not take part and they actually won it without the two big names.”
The former West Indies captain highlighted the quality of the “Red Force” by the manner in which they defeated the West Indies Players’ Association XI at the Balls of Fire II match.
“I am confident that they can do it (without Pollard and Bravo) because they beat us with a good competitive team at the Balls of Fire,” noted Gayle.
Only three members of the national team did not compete at the inaugural Champions League tournament and Gayle cited the experience gained when Trinidad and Tobago finished as runners-up to the New South Wales Blues as a critical element to them being one of the favourites to win.
“Most of the guys have been there in India and that is good for the team. There is no reason why they cannot do well and win,” he added.
The Jamaican will represent Royal Challengers Bangalore who are in Group ‘B’ in the main draw and have been in intense preparation.
Gayle is expected to lead the batting for Bangalore after finishing as the top scorer in the IPL with 608 runs from 12 matches at an average of 67.55.
“I am looking forward to my first Champions League. I am looking forward to it actually and I hope I can play a good part in Champions League,” said Gayle.
The attacking opening batsman stated his desire to continue his good Twenty20 form from the IPL and lead his team to glory.
“Like I said it was a massive IPL, I took a lot of positives but the Champions League is a different scenario. There will be different teams we will be playing against and different situations. It is going to be a big good contest amongst the bowlers from the different teams. So the build up like I said, I am excited to be a part of it. I want to do well there just like any other player and I am looking forward to it, fingers crossed hopefully,” Gayle added.