Sunday, 5 October 2014

Simmons looks to cash in against spin

MUMBAI: He is one of the few batsmen to have played at every position from No. 1 to 8. Opener, middle-order bat or finisher, Lendl Simmons has been there, done that for the West Indies since he made his ODI debut against Pakistan in Faridabad eight years back.

"I can adapt to different positions. Not everybody has that talent. Wherever my team needs me, I will be there to fill that role. I have enjoyed opening to batting at No. 5 for the Windies, though it is mentally challenging. For the Mumbai Indians, I open the batting. I can bat anywhere," Simmons said at a media interaction on Thursday at the Cricket Club of India ahead of a five-match ODI series against the hosts.

It is apparent that the 29-year-old loves to open. His presence at the top of the order has infused fresh energy into MI -in eight games in the IPL this year, Simmons stroked 394 runs@56.28, including three fifties and a hundred.

"It was a good experience to play in the IPL, where I got to bat on different pitches. I always like myself as an opening batsman. My mind is settled there," he said, while expressing relief that the West Indies team management has made it clear that he will open in the forthcoming ODI series in India.

One of the reasons why Simmons has been successful in the IPL and the Champions League T20, where he has forged a lethal opening partnership with Australian veteran Michael Hussey, is that he uses his feet well against spin.

"I like batting against spinners. I like the challenge of batting against R Ashwin and (Ravindra) Jadeja so hopefully once I get a good start, I can counter attack and come out on top," he felt.

Simmons has proved himself as a Twenty20 ace, but how different and difficult will it be to translate that success into the ODI format?

"One has to bat longer and concentrate for a longer period of time here. Yes, there is powerplay, where you go and express yourself, but after that there are still 40 overs left in the game, so it is just a matter of pacing yourself through the innings," he explained.

Should he do well in India, his uncle Phil, who tore into the best of bowling attacks on his day, should be a proud man. It will also clear the way for Simmons to fulfill his big dream -opening for the Windies in the World Cup.

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