COLOMBO: Hard-hitting West Indian batsman Chris Gayle has said that the main challenge for his side in the Twenty20 World Cup will be the Australians.
Speaking ahead of the tournament that begins from Tuesday and after scoring a brilliant half-century against Afghanistan in a warm-up match at the P. Sara Oval, Gayle, the world-leading batsman in the Twenty20 format, said: "The main challenge is going to be the first match with the Aussies. If we get past Australia we should know where we're at. Even if that doesn't happen we have to make sure we qualify and that would make the game against Ireland vital for us ...they have upset a lot of big teams so we have to be very mindful of that."
"The sub-continent teams are always challenging and the task against them will be difficult. Every team has a chance, but I know once we stick to our plans I don't see any reason why we shouldn't make it to the final and take it from there," he added.
On Monday, Gayle hit four leg-side sixes and five powerful boundaries in his unbeaten 65 off 48 balls, as the West Indies reached 125/2 wickets off 15.4 overs to win by eight wickets against Afghanistan.
Afghanistan was earlier restricted to a score of 122/7 off 20 overs. New ball bowler Fidel Edwards used his variations well to end with three wickets, while off-spinner Sunil Narine picked up 2/23.
After the match, Gayle said he was pleased with the overall team performance, especially the effort from the bowlers in hot, energy-sapping conditions. He also gave an assessment of the Windies' readiness, with the opening match five days away.
"It was a decent pitch to bat on so credit must go to the bowlers for the way they went out and restricted Afghanistan for 122, and that helped us to finish off strongly with the bat. I'm really happy with that," Gayle said.
He added: "Down here you get good pitches to bat on...I think we stuck to the task well against Afghanistan. We didn't get off to a flyer when we batted, we lost Smithy ( Dwayne Smith) so I had to build a partnership with young Johnno ( Johnson Charles) and he played well. When he got out Marlon came in and we finished off well. A lot of guys didn't get a hit, but they are preparing mentally for the first match.
West Indies have been drawn in Group B alongside Australia and Ireland.