Trent Bridge:India's pace spearhead Zaheer Khan has rated West Indian skipper Chris Gayle as the main threat when the two teams meet in the Super Eight stage of the Twenty20 World Cup, saying the left-hander's early dismissal will be vital to the defending champions chances in the match.
"He is a proven match-winner. If we could get him out early, it would definitely be great help for us," Zaheer said after returning from a shoulder injury with a four-wicket haul against Ireland on Wednesday night.
"It will be good if we can get early wickets against the West Indies. I am hopeful because we are clicking as a bowling unit and each bowler understands his role.
"We are chipping in with wickets at the right time," he added.
India will take on West Indies in their first match of the Super Eight stage at Lord's on Friday, followed by the encounter against hosts England at the same venue on Sunday before clashing with with South Africa here on June 16.
Zaheer refused to rate the defending champions or any other team as favourites in the ongoing Twenty20 World Cup, saying the shortest format of the game is "unpredictable".
"In this format, no team is favourite. Any team can beat any side. You just have to look to perform to your potential. There is no such thing as weak opposition in Twenty20 cricket.
"It is such an unpredictable game but our focus now is only on the West Indies. We are looking at England or South Africa at the moment," he said.
The left-arm seamer also expressed delight over his four-wicket haul against Ireland and said it means a lot to his confidence, especially when he is making a comeback from a shoulder injury.
"I had success after a long time and it definitely boosts your confidence. I had not played for four or five weeks, so it's great to be back among wickets," said Zaheer, who was adjudged the player of the match for his four for 19 against Ireland on Wednesday.
The shoulder injury, which he sustained during the second Indian Premier League in South Africa, kept Zaheer out for most part of the cash-rich Twenty20 event in South Africa but the left-arm pacer asserted that it was a "narrow escape" for him.
India vice-captain Virender Sehwag has already been ruled out of the remainder of the Twenty20 World Cup due to a similar sort of injury that he sustained during the IPL semifinals and would be returning home without playing a single match.
"I would say it was a narrow escape. It could have been worse. It kept me away for only four weeks. I devoted lot of time to strengthen my shoulders. Some work still remains but it's not major," Zaheer said.
Trent Bridge seems to be a happy hunting ground for Zaheer as this was the venue where he scalped nine wickets against England in a Test in 2007 to set the series win for India.
"It helps you perform if you are bowling in one of your favourite grounds. I have always felt there is something for fast bowlers at this venue," he said.
He said despite Ireland being a weak side, the defending champions were motivated for the match.
"We were motivated for the match, you could guess it by the intensity we showed on the field."