SYDNEY (AP) -- Chris Gayle's stunning double century against Zimbabwe and A.B. de Villiers relatively modest performance against India have prompted a re-think of Friday's South Africa vs. West Indies World Cup clash.
South Africa entered the tournament as a top title contender, with de Villiers in imperious form following convincing test and limited-overs series wins over the West Indies on home soil, whereas the Caribbean team looked disjointed and its trump card Gayle was under a cloud.
The 35-year-old left-hander came under more pressure after the West Indies lost their opening match to Ireland, and he scored only four in the subsequent win over Pakistan. Gayle hadn't scored an ODI century since mid-June 2013, and even cricket board officials were joking about his retirement package.
That all changed, rapidly, against Zimbabwe this week, when he clouted a record-equaling 16 sixes in his 147-ball 215, the highest score ever at a World Cup, and shared a 372-run second-wicket partnership with Marlon Samuels.
Now Gayle is talking bullishly of defeating the Proteas.
"They beat us badly in their hometown. We are on neutral grounds now, so hopefully we can get things going for us and beat South Africa here in the World Cup," Gayle said of Friday's match at the Sydney Cricket Ground. "Hopefully (we'll) go one up on them in the World Cup."
Gayle had to overcome cramps against Zimbabwe and skipper Jason Holder acknowledged his match-to-match fitness was an issue.
"He's been struggling over the past with his back," Holder said. "So we're trying to monitor him as best as we possibly can."
Holder, who was thrust into the West Indies captaincy in December, said the squad was fully behind Gayle, even after his many disputes with officials and accusations of putting his interests above those of the national team.
"He's a big team man, and his presence is pretty much felt," Holder said. "It was a really good feeling not only to see him get a hundred, but going to get a double hundred. He's broken records, and he's set the path in world cricket in a sense. His success is crucial to our overall success. We love him, and he's a huge member for us. It's good to have him."
South Africa's squad contains a host of match winners, including de Villiers and Hashim Amla, two of the leading batsmen in the ODI format, and a pace battery led by Dale Steyn.
None of them fired against India on Sunday, when India posted 307-7, and South Africa was all out for 177 in reply.
"Nothing has changed for our approach except our confidence might have taken a bit of a slip in the last game," de Villiers said. "It's maybe a good thing for us to make sure we keep our feet on the ground.
"We understand what is required in order for us to play some good cricket now. We've got only upward to go now otherwise we're going to stumble out of this tournament."
De Villiers said the team was planning how best to negate Gayle, who was lucky to survive a confident appeal for lbw the first ball he faced against Zimbabwe.
"He's a world-class player and he can win games for his team in almost any situation," de Villiers said. "He's one of those guys you need to look out for and make sure your plans are really clear toward him."