Ottis Gibson, the West Indies coach, is hoping the return of Chris Gayle will inspire the West Indies to victory in the one-day international series against Zimbabwe. The captain has rejoined the squad after taking compassionate leave to visit his ill mother in Jamaica, and will lead the side out when the first of five ODIs gets under way at the Guyana National Stadium today. "He is an inspiration to the guys," said Gibson. "He gives them a lift as if they are on cloud nine.
"The guys understand how they need to play in certain situations, and what we have practised. I must say, judging from how they look, I am impressed with the way things have been going so far in preparation for the game." Narsingh Deonarine, the left-handed batsman and off-spin bowler, has been recalled along with left-arm spinner Nikita Miller. Both missed Sunday's Twenty20 international defeat by Zimbabwe but played in the recent 4-0 ODI series loss in Australia. Ramnaresh Sarwan and Dwayne Bravo are missing from the 14-man squad due to injury concerns.
Gibson knows the passionate West Indies supporters will be expecting a marked improvement in the ODI series. "We do feel disappointed that we lost the game," he said. "Zimbabwe exploited the conditions in the pitch more than we, and now our fans expect us to go hard at them." In contrast, Prosper Utseya, the Zimbabwe captain was thrilled with his side's triumph at the weekend, and has urged the tourists to continue in the same vein today.
"We are trying not to be over-confident going into the game," he said. "We know the West Indies are a good team, but once we settle down and play good cricket, we know we can be tough for any opposition on any given day." * With agencies