Abu Dhabi: Brian Lara expects India to win the World Twenty20 on home soil in March, but predicts his mercurial West Indian compatriots can be a major force at the tournament if they pick the right players.
The West Indies on Friday named 11 men who starred in their 2012 WorldT20 triumph in Sri Lanka in their squad for the forthcoming extravaganza, including the explosive batsman Chris Gayle and the artful spinner Sunil Narine.
If they can gel as well as they did four years ago, the legendary former batsman Lara believes anything is possible.
“I think India will win in home conditions,” the 46-year-old told Gulf News after the Abu Dhabi Invitational golf pro-am at Yas Links. “Their players know the pitches and they’re playing good cricket against the best teams in the world at present in that version of the game. I would definitely give them top billing.
“But I must talk about the West Indies. I hope they can pick the best possible team because if they do, every other nation will be worried.
“Chris Gayle, Darren Bravo or Kieron Pollard, all these guys when they come together, there’s a certain chemistry. I can tell they want to be together and pull together.
“But on occasions, we know the West Indies can be very inconsistent. We can still have the best players and be out in the first round. You never know with the West Indies.”
Lara also believes his country can thrive under the leadership of their Test and One Day International captain, Jason Holder, if he is granted patience to hone his leadership skills.
“I think Jason could be an awesome captain and an awesome leader. He first of all has the ability to be in a team, which is very important.
“It is also very important that if you entrust a 23 or 24-year-old with the job of captaining the West Indies team, you have to make sure that you give him the support that is necessary. He has to have the confidence that he will be there for [a sustained) period of time.
“If his performances are going to be judged too harshly then that does not make sense, as he doesn’t have the experience to do the job.”
Lara, who notched 34 centuries in 131 Tests for his country, also urged people to lay off the controversial batsman Gayle, who came under heavy fire last month for asking an Australian reporter out live on air.
Has the 36-year-old been unfairly pilloried?
“I don’t know about unfairly,” Lara said. “It’s a situation that’s done and gone. Everybody makes mistakes. Chris being a West Indian, I’m in Chris’s corner.
“I know he knows what he did and he rightly apologised and you need to move on. You can’t keep lamenting about these things and I think the young lady [Mel McLaughlin] has accepted his apology and that’s that for me.”