Fort Lauderdale: Talismanic West Indies opener Chris Gayle has stressed the importance of a winning start to the series against New Zealand this weekend. The left-hander said it was crucial the West Indies got an early win in the Twenty20 series in order to set the tone for the rest of the tour and also for the upcoming Twenty20 World Cup in Sri Lanka starting in September.
"This is an important series. The people here have come out to support us and are making us feel very relaxed and at home. It is a chance to get some wins under our belt as we look forward to the T20 World Cup," the 32-year-old said here Friday.
"We are looking for a good start in these two T20 games before we move on to Jamaica for the start of the One-Day Series."
He continued: "The first game of any tour, of any series, is always important and hopefully come tomorrow we can get that kick-start that would be so vital no matter where in the world you are playing.
"We have a lot of supporters here and it is clear they are excited to see us come and play in America. It would be really nice to start with a win for them, for the people back home, and all our fans."
West Indies face New Zealand in the first T20 Saturday before returning to the Broward County Regional Stadium Sunday for the second match.
The fixtures represent the first time matches in a West Indies bi-lateral series will be played outside the Caribbean and Gayle said he shared the excitement of the moment.
"The conditions here are great ... it's warm, but we are all natural West Indians and we can handle the heat," the Jamaican noted.
"The guys have been training really hard and we are confident of doing well. It is good to be back among this great group and I'm enjoying it."
Gayle returned to the West Indies side for the limited overs series against England following 14 months on the sidelines, after ending a protracted squabble with the West Indies Cricket Board.
He made an instant impact on return, smashing a half-century against England in the second One-Day International and said he felt in great form.