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Friday 18 August 2017
News updated at 11:40 PM IST

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Gayle tale

Chris Gayle
West Indies, apart from their home side, have been the biggest draw among Sri Lankan fans. And Chris Gayle, without a shadow of doubt, has been the most popular of them.

On Sunday night, the 35,000 spectators will not be celebrating Gayle’s sixes, if he manages a few, with the same delight for they will be flowing off Lankan bowlers. Both teams know, depending upon how Gayle performs, it will dictate the course of the game. But both captains tried to play down one individual player’s importance in the outcome of the match. While cricket essentially remains a team game, we have often seen that Gayle has reduced it to an individual affair, facilitated no less by the nature of the T20 format.

Mahela Jaywardene, in fact, went a step further and fired the first salvo claiming that the pressure was on Gayle who had apparently said ‘Sorry, Sri Lanka but we’ll win the final.’ “When somebody says something like that whether the pressure is on us or on him?” the Lankan skipper asked. “I don’t know how to react to that. Probably the pressure is on him when he had said something like that.”

West Indies captain Darren Sammy wasn’t oblivious to the scenario but sounded not too perturbed on missing the crowd support his team has enjoyed so far. “We expect that. If we are at home, it would be the same thing if we were in the final. The crowds will be behind Sri Lanka but the belief in the dressing room is that we've done what we had to do to get to the final. Once we get there, probably we have to bring our A-plus game. We needed our A-game to beat Aussies and we have to do play a touch better to beat Lanka. We believe we can do that,” he said.

Gayle had breathing issues during his Friday knock but Sammy allayed any fitness worries. “The physio didn’t tell me anything very serious, so it seemed to be ok. I know nobody is going to make Chris miss the final. He’s played through pain for us many times before and tomorrow won’t be any different.”

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