Injured Gayle a likely starter for World Cup quarter-final

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Wellington, Mar 18: West Indies opening batsman Chris Gayle has undergone scans on his injured back and should be ready to play in the team's World Cup quarterfinal against New Zealand on Saturday, allrounder Darren Sammy said today.

World Cup Special; Quarter-final schedule

Gayle missed the West Indies' final pool match against the United Arab Emirates on Sunday, but Sammy said he believes Gayle will take his place in the lineup for the quarterfinal. The injured batsman has received a cortisone injection to help with the pain.

File picture of Chris Gayle

"Chris is not missing this quarterfinal for anybody," Sammy said. "He is more pumped up than we are. He's been writing down the path for us and the different scenarios."

The two-time champion West Indies will start as considerable underdogs in Saturday's match. New Zealand was unbeaten in pool play, while the West Indies had to win their final match and lift their net run rate to scrape into the knockout rounds with a 3-3 record. Sammy said the teams' records don't count for anything in the knockout stages.

"We always believed from the time the tournament started, the first goal was to reach the quarterfinals. After that, you're two knockout games away from a World Cup final. We've won two, it's been a long time, but New Zealand has not won any," he said.

Sammy said the pressure should be much greater on New Zealand as the favorite and the home team. "Here we are, a knockout game, so the pressure is on the home team," he said.

"They are the favorites to win, so the question is what are they going to do when they play West Indies in a knockout?

"We're not too bad in knockout games. We're just going to enjoy it. The pressure is not on us."

The West Indies last played New Zealand in the knockout rounds of a major tournament at the Twenty20 World Cup in Sri Lanka in 2012. That match ended in a tie and the West Indies went on to win in a super over.

"It's a big occasion but we're not going to be overwhelmed," Sammy said. "We've played New Zealand in a quarterfinal of a T20 World Cup before and when it came down to crunch time, we won. Same set of players.

"This time around, it won't be any different, a full house rooting for New Zealand but we know within our group once we do the basics, the things we know we can do well, we are unstoppable."

AP

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