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KINGSTON—Flamboyant Chris Gayle says he is relishing the prospect of opening the batting with inform Dwayne Smith when West Indies begin their Twenty20 series against Ireland here today. Gayle has returned to the regional side since an injury in India last November while Smith has been recalled on a wave of impressive batting displays. “This partnership’s a reality,” declared the aggressive Jamaican opener after a training session with his team mates. “He (Smith) is in good form and it would be nice to have a Dwayne Smith atop your batting order”.
Smith was named MVP of the just ended Nagico Super50 tournament on the heels of equally outstanding performances for his former Indian Premier League (IPL) team Mumbai Indians during last year’s IPL and the champions League T20.
The prospect of Gayle and Smith opening for West Indies is expected to be a major appeal for regional fans as the Caribbean side also prepares to defend its World T20 title later this year. “He can get the pressure off you,” said Gayle. “His form is spot on and we’re all happy to have him back. It would give me room to bat a bit more freely.” Meantime the big left hander says he is “99 per cent” fit and ready to take on Ireland. “As everyone knows I had an injury last year but I have done my work and I’m happy to be back in the set-up. This is just my first training session back at the ‘peak’ level so I will see overnight how the body comes through and I will gradually ease back into the team after assessing his body,” he told journalists. “It’s good to be back again and I’m looking forward to the first game and getting that feeling back out there in the middle again. I haven’t trained this intensely for a couple months so I hope to get a kick-start and get back into the groove of things as soon as possible.” West Indies will start the series with a T20 International today. The second match is on Friday. First ball is 2 pm (3 pm Eastern Caribbean Time). (CMC)