File photo of West Indies batsman Chris Gayle. (Getty Images)
Kingston: Flamboyant batsman Chris Gayle says he is relishing the prospect of opening with in-form Dwayne Smith when the West Indies begin their Twenty20 series against Ireland here. Gayle has returned to the 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. Smith is in good form and it would be nice to have him atop your batting order," said the Jamaican. Smith had outstanding performances for the Mumbai Indians in last year's Indian Premier League (IPL) and the Champions League T20.
The prospect of Gayle and Smith opening for the West Indies is expected to be a major appeal for fans as the Caribbean side also prepares to defend their World T20 title in March.
"Smith can get the pressure off you. 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," said Gayle.
In the meantime, the big left-hander says he is "99 per cent" fit and ready to take on Ireland when the first T20I begins at Sabina Park Wednesday.
"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 said.
"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 T20I Wednesday. The second match is Friday.