Adil Rashid looking forward to duel with Chris Gayle
There are obviously some concerns but you have to believe in yourself, you've got to have confidence: Adil Rashid. (AFP Image)

Legspinner Adil Rashid is looking forward to his contest with Chris Gayle after the explosive West Indies batsman had cautioned England‘s bowlers to be wary of him ahead of the five-match ODI series starting Wednesday. Gayle, who announced that he would retire from ODI cricket at the conclusion of the World Cup, reckoned he was looking forward to performing well in the series since it’s the last time he would be entertaining his home crowd.

“It’s exciting,” Rashid said when asked about Gayle’s comments. “It’s a challenge for everybody, we have people who hit the ball a long way. It’s exciting for me, I can put my game plans into place, use my variations and being clever with what you bowl. I’m looking forward to it.

“There are obviously some concerns but you have to believe in yourself, you’ve got to have confidence. You have to go out and stick to your strengths and be confident that you can get him out. He’s only human. We’re all human and make mistakes. So it only takes one ball for him to make a mistake and get out. It’s that kind of mindset that we need.”

Rashid has been a consistent performer, evident through his standing in the world – he is ranked 8th in the ICC rankings for bowlers – the best by and Englishman. Due to the birth of his second child, Rashid left the tour of Caribbean but returned for the warm-up game against the UWI Vice Chancellor’s XI, Rashid picked up 2/21, and his knack of breaking partnerships is one that has always held him in high regards.

“[My role in the ODI team is the] same as it has been for past three or four years,” he said. “Nothing changes. It’s to create chances, look to bowl variations and if it happens, great, and if it doesn’t, fine. So I think my role is that same as I’ve been doing for the past three or four years.

“You have to work hard and have performances day in, day out. I’m still a long way off that in Test cricket becoming that world-beater. You have the odd performance here and there but to back it up consistently has so far been a bit of a challenge or whatever. Now the preparation is white-ball cricket. Focus on that, my strengths, what I’m looking to work on, whatever it is leading up to the World Cup and beyond.”

Shai Hope, the West Indies wicketkeeper, had pointed out how the series against England will be a good gauge for the visitors ahead of the World Cup considering Eoin Morgan’s team is one of the favourites. And while for every team, the focus obviously remains the World Cup, as if now, Rashid’s has given his undivided attention to the coming five matches.

“The World Cup will be massive,” he said. “We’re all looking forward to that. But there’s a lot of cricket to be played before then. We can’t take this series lightly, we’re going to give it 100 percent.

“It is important to start any game well. We won’t look too far ahead knowing there is a World Cup and Ashes, it is still a long way away. Take it a game at a time. We’re just looking to concentrate on this West Indies series.”

While Rashid may still be away from becoming an inseperable part of the team, he is holding well courtesy the belief shown in the legspinner by some of his teammates. Recently, allrounder Moeen Ali backed Rashid to become one of the best in the world, towards which the the 31-year-old expressed immense gratitude.

“Nice coming from him,” Rashid said. “If that is what he believes – he must see something in me, that’s why he said it. But you have to work hard and have performances day in, day out. I’m still a long way off that in Test cricket becoming that world-beater. You have the odd performance here and there but to back it up consistently has so far been a bit of a challenge or whatever.

“Now the preparation is white-ball cricket. Focus on that, my strengths, what I’m looking to work on, whatever it is leading up to the World Cup and beyond.”