Bridgetown, Feb 10 (AP) West Indies coach Ottis Gibson isrelying on some Gayle-force batting and the relative genius ofBrian Lara to give his Caribbean squad a chance of winning theWorld Cup.
Chris Gayle, one of the most destructive batsmen inlimited-overs cricket, will be entering his third World Cupdetermined to restore the status of the West Indies in the ODIgame.
The West Indies won the first two World Cups in 1975 and''79 but have slid in the rankings since then, their bestrecent run being a run to the semifinals in 1996 - the lasttime the tournament was staged in Asia.Darren Bravo is preparing for his first World Cup, andcomes in with great expectations as a batsman of the future.
He has been groomed for international cricket, as the youngercousin of former skipper Lara and younger half-brother ofestablished allrounder Dwayne Bravo.
"I think we have a team that can win the World Cup," saidGibson, an allrounder in the 1996 squad. "We will go therewith the expectation of doing very well and putting ourselvesin a position that we can reach the semifinals, which is avery realistic possibility.
"With everyone focused on the top teams, we can stay inthe shadows and I think that we are a team that can spring afew surprises."
Gibson has been in the job for 12 months after spendingthe previous two years as England''s bowling coach. The team hetook over had just been swept 5-0 in an ODI series byAustralia and another 5-0 defeat soon followed at home againstSouth Africa. Gibson identified those two countries as amongthe World Cup favorites - along with hosts India - but hebacks his batsmen to take his team out of a lengthy slump.
"I think it is going to be a batting tournament and wehave players like Chris Gayle, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, youngAdrian Barath, Darren Bravo, who is looking very good, andRamnaresh Sarwan who has a very good record in thesubcontinent," Gibson said. "If our senior players and ourbatsmen put the runs on the board, it is going to be up to thebowlers to defend it." (MORE) AP SNK