New Delhi: West Indies are determined to prove themselves on the big stage and much will rest on the shoulders of vice-captain Dwayne Bravo, who believes the experience of playing in the Indian Premier League will come in handy for the Calypso charmers during the World Cup.
The hard-hitting batsman said the IPL has helped members in his current World Cup squad get accustomed to the sub-continental conditions, especially the slow and bouncy nature of pitches.
"We have got 5-6 players in our current World Cup squad, who took part in the Indian Premier League and are still associated with it. They know the sub-continent conditions, so that exposure will come into play here in India. That has helped them to know how to play in the sub-continent," Bravo told reporters after his side's first practice session at the Ferozeshah Kotla stadium here.
"The South Africans have also got players like captain Graeme Smith and J P Duminy, who have featured in IPL. So they also know about it (conditions). But in the end, it will all depend on how we execute things and prepare ourselves better for that particular day," Bravo said ahead of their Group B opener against the formidable Proteas on Thursday here.
Six of the West Indies World Cup squad members have the IPL experience behind them with Bravo (Chennai Super Kings) and hard-hitting Kieron Pollard (Mumbai Indians) still part of the T20 tournament for its fourth edition commencing April 8, six days after the World Cup final on April 2 in Mumbai.
Those who were earlier associated with the T20 league but not part of the IPL anymore include: Chris Gayle (Kolkata Knight Riders), Ramnaresh Sarwan (Kings XI Punjab), Shivnariane Chanderpaul (Royal Challengers Bangalore) and Kemar Roach (Deccan Chargers).
Bravo said it would not be difficult for the West Indies team to get acclimatised to the pitch condition here in India.
"We have got similar pitch conditions in the West Indies. There also the wickets are slow and bouncy. We are aware of the pitches here in India and adjusting to the conditions will not be that difficult.
"We know each ground in India is different and each venue is going to be different. But the track will support spinners and slow bowlers in the middle," said the 27-year-old Bravo.
West Indies will have their task cut out against an in-form South African team brimming with quality batsmen and bowlers, and Bravo said the outcome of the match will heavily depend on a good start.
"South Africa is tough, well balanced and a professional team. It's the team which I look upto and love to play against. Lot of my good performances have come against South Africa. Our guys are looking forward to the match.
"A lot will depend on the kind of start we get. It's important to preserve wickets for the middle overs. South Africans have got a bad history as far as World Cup is concerned but still they are very good team. We can't take them lightly," said Bravo.
West Indies have come into the showpiece event at the back of successive series defeats against South Africa (5-0 in May-June) and co-hosts Sri Lanka (2-0 in January-February).
With two of their first-choice players - wicket-keeper Carlton Baugh and batsman Adrian Barath -- ruled out due to injuries, the Caribbean side will look to the experienced members of the squad for inspiration.
"We lost the series 5-0 against South Africa at home. But if you look at the series and how it panned out, it could have easily gone 4-1 in the West Indies' favour. Lots of games were close.
"It all happened due to our silly mistakes. In the home series, we had a lot of opportunities and key moments where we could have won the game. But we have identified our mistakes and would avoid repeating them. We need to overcome those mistakes and not repeat them.
"We lost our first choice keeper Carlton and batsman Barth due to injuries. It came hard on us. Injuries always happen and one can't help it. But we have to look at new situation and think how to come up with a good show.
"Youngsters can fill the shoes of other players. They have got the big stage set for themselves. We have got some excited young players who are eager to perform. They just can't wait for Thursday to come," said Bravo.
West Indies shocked South Africa in the 1996 World Cup quarter-finals and have done so twice in the Champions Trophy but Bravo said that's history.
"We are not thinking our past record or history," he said.
On the presence of all-rounders in the squad, Bravo said, "We have got lot of all-rounders. It is very important in the sub-continent as allround abilities play a big part. We have good chances as any other team in the World Cup. We have prepared hard for the tournament. We have come into the tournament full of confidence."
About the Ferozeshah Kotla ground, which will hosts its first international match after being banned in 2009 for preparing an unplayable pitch during an India-Sri Lanka one-dayer, the Carribean player said, "We had a look at the ground this morning. There is a bit of grass on it but lot can change in two days. So let's see. Pitch looks good."