Big-hitting Windies all-rounder Andre Russell believes the team is set to peak at just the right time, with the ICC T20 World Cup just on the horizon.

Russell played a starring role as the Windies closed out its T20 series against Sri Lanka, with a convincing 7 wickets win at the Pallekele International Cricket Stadium on Friday.  The 2-0 win triumph for the West Indies was the team’s first series win against an opponent since Bangladesh in 2019.

For a re-tooled Windies team looking to win an unprecedented third world title, the all-rounder believes that while the team has a long way to go, the victory is timely encouragement.

“We are peaking at the right time but we still have some areas to work on as a team,” Russell, who was named man of the series, said.

“We have a new set of guys who have the professional mind-set and we know what we have to do to better than what we have been doing.  I just hope everyone is in tuned in and ready to make the sacrifices moving forward to work on our cricket.”

Russell ended the series with a decisive 75 runs and one wicket.

 

 

Windies T20 captain Kieron Pollard is feeling a sense of relief after coming away from Sri Lanka with a series victory after being swamped in the One-Day Internationals before that.

The West Indies beat back the challenge of the hosts 2-0, completing the route with a seven-wicket win in Pallekele on Friday.

Sent into bat, Sri Lanka recovered from 48-4 in the 12th over to score 155-6 thanks to Dasun Shanaka’s 31 not out and Thisara Perera’s unbeaten 21 but that wasn’t enough.

In reply, the West Indies, despite the early loss of Lendl Simmons, 9, didn’t have too much trouble chasing the target with a long, powerful batting line-up, where Brandon King scored 43, Shimron Hetmyer was unbeaten on 43 and Andre Russell scored a remarkable 40 not out, inclusive of six sixes.

“Pretty satisfied to leave Sri Lankan shores with a victory, we hadn't won a T20I series in a while,” said Pollard.

The skipper lauded the team for the effort they put into the two games, saying he liked the fact that the intensity remained high over the course of the two games. The West Indies won the first encounter on Wednesdat by 25 runs.  

“The guys executed nicely, the foundation was laid by Brandon King, the young man is finding his feet in international cricket, Russell finished it off and the bowlers were brilliant,” said Pollard.

On Wednesday, the West Indies had a scare after Kusal Perera threatened to take the game away from them. Pollard had said then, that he would reveal his plans for there not to be a repeat.

“He is always looking for the length ball, every time we bowl fuller he tends to miss, our analyst has done a brilliant job, and as I said, it was a total team effort,” he said.

The bowling effort, Pollard said, was better than in the last game and better than it has been in a while.

“We were trying to make them hit to one side of the park only,” he said, pointing out that his team had previously been leaking runs on both sides of the wicket, making it difficult to contain scoring.

Now, Pollard said, it was just for the team to create those performances consistently.

LA Galaxy midfielder Sebastian Lletget claims he felt like walking off the pitch when he was a team-mate of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, adding there is "definitely a better feel around the place" since the striker's exit.

Ibrahimovic scored 53 goals in 58 MLS appearances in two seasons in Los Angeles, winning the club's prizes for most goals, best goal and best player in each campaign.

The veteran striker was also twice in the MLS Best XI and All-Star line-ups and was awarded newcomer of the year following his arrival after leaving Manchester United.

Now with Milan, the 38-year-old's undoubtedly impressive goalscoring record was not enough to deliver silverware to the Galaxy, as they failed to reach the playoffs in 2018 and lost to rivals Los Angeles FC in the semi-finals last year.

Lletget certainly feels happier without Ibrahimovic in the team, insisting the former Paris Saint-Germain star made life "super frustrating".

"There's definitely a better feel around the place, for sure," Lletget said on BSI: The Podcast. "As far as chemistry, that's only going to build with time."

Lletget claimed that, in the club's dining area, "No one sits with him [Ibrahimovic], ever" and added of playing alongside him: "You couldn't be free. It was super frustrating.

"You feel like you want to literally take your boots off and just walk off the field. It's tough to play against him and tougher to play with him."

In a match with LAFC last August, Ibrahimovic was seen pushing Lletget away from a defensive wall as their opponents prepared to take a late free-kick.

"That to me is complete insanity to do that to one of your team-mates — complete insanity," said the United States international.

"It's one of those moments I think he shows his true colours."

Andre Russell blasted 40 off just 14 balls to see West Indies home against Sri Lanka, while Shimron Hetmyer and Brandon King also starred in a series-clinching Twenty20 victory.

Sri Lanka, who were inserted by the tourists, were restricted to 155-6 and Dasun Shanaka (31 not out) was their only batsman to score more than 23.

The home team needed something special from their talisman Lasith Malinga with the ball, but the captain's three overs cost 46 runs as King (43) set the tone with back-to-back sixes in the powerplay.

Hetmyer (43 not out) shared a 46-run partnership with King and then put on an unbroken 55 alongside Russell, who smashed six maximums to bring about the end in a hurry.

Sri Lanka lost the first T20 by 25 runs and this Windies victory, achieved with 18 balls to spare, gave them a 2-0 triumph in the best-of-two-match series.

Oshane Thomas was the star of that opening T20 and he claimed his sixth wicket of the series when bowling Avishka Fernando.

Fabian Allen accounted for opener Kusal Perera, who had made 66 in the first meeting, and Shehan Jayasuriya to return figures of 2-24 from his four overs.

Sri Lanka needed early wickets and though Lendl Simmons was bowled by Angelo Mathews, King had made 43 from 21 before he was dismissed.

Some quick thinking from Jayasuriya in the deep saw Rovman Powell removed, the fielder throwing the ball up in the air and catching it again after rolling back off the rope and onto the field.

Yet Hetmyer and Russell could not be stopped, the latter pulling a shorter ball from Mathews over the fence to seal victory.

Samuel Ricketts and Tahlia Richardson got off to winning starts at the 2020 Jamaica International Open Badminton tournament that began on Thursday at the National Indoor Sports Complex in Kingston.

A long-running dispute between the Trinidad and Tobago (TTFA) and radio commentator Selwyn Melville over ownership and rights to the ‘Soca Warriors’ brand has come to an end with a settlement.

Melville and the administration have battled for the better part of 15-years over the right to the trademark.  The commentator insists he coined the nickname in 1998 during a senior men’s match.

 With various administrations failing to come to an agreement with Melville on the issue.  The newly appointed Williams Wallace association has reportedly, however. come to an agreement that is expected to see both parties benefit financially.

“There was a matter in the court for probably over 15 years – the Selwyn Melville matter (concerning) the issue of Soca Warriors trademark...when we look at everything, the FA just had absolutely no evidence to claim the trademark, there was nothing,” Williams told Trinidad and Tobago Newsday.

 “At this point in time, we are drawing up an arrangement to go forward with Selwyn Melville, who has claimed the trademark, for profit-sharing from the trademark between Selwyn and of course the FA.”

 

Australia will defend their Women's T20 World Cup title in the final against India after defeating South Africa in a rain-affected match at the SCG.

The hosts and reigning champions posted 134-5 in a match at first delayed and then truncated by rain, with the earlier semi-final between England and India having been a washout.

While Australia were able to bat their full allocation, their opponents were limited to 13 overs and required 98 runs.

However, they were only able to reach 92-5 as Australia won by five runs, with maiden finalists India up next in Melbourne on Sunday.

Captain Meg Lanning led by example with an unbeaten 49, while disciplined bowling from Megan Schutt (2-17 off three overs) helped to limit a South Africa side for whom Laura Wolvaardt top-scored on 41.

India progressed to their first Women's T20 World Cup decider after rain ruined the semi-final as England were sent home without taking to the field.

Thursday's first semi-final was abandoned due to rain in Sydney, with India automatically qualifying for Sunday's showpiece in Melbourne as Group A winners.

Play was meant to start at 15:00 local time at the SCG before persistent rain forced the final-four clash to be called off at 16:08.

India – three-time semi-finalists – will face either South Africa or hosts Australia in the T20 final.

Thursday's second semi-final is also in doubt amid the wet weather, with Group B winners Proteas set to advance should it be washed out.

Former West Indies Players Association (WIPA) president Dinanath Ramnarine has given a vote of confidence to the new Windies cricket team leadership tandem of captain Kieron Pollard and coach Phil Simmons.

The team has experienced mixed results since the duo took charge, with Simmons taking the reins in September of last year and Pollard taking charge of the ODI and T20 teams the following month.  Simmons previously served as head coach of the regional team in 2015 and led the Windies to their second T20 World title the following year.

Though the team is yet to put together a strong string of positive results, as they were most recently swept aside by Sri Lanka in three one day internationals, Ramnarine believes the youthful Windies squad has the ingredients to eventually get things right.

“Talent has always been there, no question about that. It takes time to groom them,” Ramnarine told the Sportstar.

“Governance is one aspect always been lacking significantly in sports generally, we in the West Indies have our own share of not-so-good people. The current captain Kieron Pollard, whom I know well, is a fantastic leader. He and Phil Simmons (head coach) bring a lot of positive things to the game, these are good guys. With time, these two have the ability, the skill and leadership to transform cricket in the West Indies.”

 

India and England face off in the first of Thursday’s semi-finals after finishing top of Group A and second in Group B respectively at the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup.

In previous ICC tournaments England have come out on top, beating India in both the 2017 50-over final and the 2018 Women’s T20 World Cup semi-final - but this time their opponents are in inspired form as the only side to win all their group matches.

One of them has the tournament’s top wicket-taker and the other the top run-scorer — but who else could be crucial in deciding their side’s final fate?

 

Shafali Verma v Anya Shrubsole

 

There’s no doubt England know who they need to remove early for their strongest chance of beating India on Thursday.

Teenager Shafali Verma has taken world cricket by storm in Australia for her fearless brand of batting has helped her become the top-ranked batter in the MRF Tyres ICC Women’s T20I Player Rankings.

The 16-year-old prodigy is India’s highest run-scorer in the competition with 161 and her team will be relying heavily on their opener for another good start in Sydney.

England will take comfort in the fact that Verma’s lack of fear could make her liable to an early exit - something her more experienced opponents have cottoned onto.

Against Australia and Bangladesh, Ellyse Perry and Panna Ghosh took her crucial wicket and England will have been studying her performances in detail in order to do the same.

While England aren’t short of talented bowlers, one who just might be able to suss out Verma best is the experienced Anya Shrubsole.

Only India’s Poonam Yadav has more wickets than Shrubsole at this edition and she became the first England bowler to 100 T20I wickets when hitting the milestone against Pakistan.

With 41 scalps, Shrubsole also the most wickets in the history of the Women’s T20 World Cup and if any team are aware of her threat, it’s India.

Shrubsole’s match-winning six for 46 helped England down India to win the 50-over title at Lord’s in 2017 by nine runs - this time she’ll be keen to stop them getting anywhere near the title.

 

Harmanpreet Kaur v Sophie Ecclestone

 

While stopping Verma is the first task, the key for England will be preventing India’s batters from stepping up collectively in Sydney.

A lack of firepower in the middle order is still a concern for India and that’s exactly where their opponents will need to target.

Captain Harmanpreet Kaur is one to have underwhelmed thus far, hitting double figures in just one of their four group wins, and India will need their star players to step up now more than ever if they want to make it to Sunday’s Final at the MCG.

But England may just have the perfect weapon to keep her away.

The skipper has struggled with spin in Australia with Jess Jonassen, Leigh Kasperek and Shashikala Siriwardena all taking her wicket throughout the group stages.

And England are certainly not lacking in the spin department themselves.

England’s young triumvirate of Sophie Ecclestone, Sarah Glenn and Mady Villiers have stolen the headlines Down Under, with Ecclestone now the top-ranked bowler in the MRF Tyres ICC Women’s T20I Player Rankings.

Ecclestone has taken wickets in her last 18 T20I matches and has confidence in abundance in this tournament, trusted enough to take the ball in the Powerplay.

Aged 20, she already has 50 T20I wickets to her name – eight of those coming in this Women’s T20 World Cup at the cost of just 49 runs.

 

Nat Sciver v Poonam Yadav

 

Nat Sciver has been in the form of her life in Australia.

The 27-year-old all-rounder has had an outstanding tournament so far, scoring three half-centuries to top the run-scoring charts and steer England to the knockout stages.

Judging by her past record, she’s more than capable of taking that up to four against India.

Sciver scored a half-century against Thursday’s opponents in the 2018 semi-final in the West Indies to pip them to a spot in the final showdown.

But there’s a certain India bowler who has no problems with dismantling the greats.

Poonam Yadav finished as the highest wicket-taker of the pool stages with nine after ripping through Australia’s batting unit on the opening night of the tournament.

If the tournament’s highest wicket-taker comes up against her batting equivalent on Thursday, expect to see fireworks - they’ll both be determined to come out as top dog.

Windies T20 captain Kieron Pollard is very aware that while his side cruised to victory against Sri Lanka in the first game of a T20 series in Pallekele could have gone very differently had Andre Russell not bowled Kusal Perera in the 18th over.

The West Indies won the game by 25 runs after scoring an imposing 196-4 on the back of Lendl Simmons’ unbeaten 67 and 30s from Brandon King (33), Russell (35) and Pollard (34).

It almost wasn’t enough, as Kusal counter-attacked brilliantly, slamming 66 from 38 deliveries, despite Oshane Thomas’ soul-crushing 5-28.

Wanindu Hasaranga was also dangerous against the West Indies, scoring 44 from 34 deliveries, to keep the run chase alive after helping his recover from 56-5 in the sixth over.

While Pollard understands that Kusal was dangerous and could be so again, he was not yet willing to divulge what his bowlers needed to do hold on to a more powerful position.

“I'll tell you our plan to Kusal Perera after the next game, he's obviously their mainstay,” he said.

Rather, Pollard wanted to focus on the effort the team put into creating a fairly comfortable victory in the end.

Thomas came in for some praise, with Pollard speaking about the work he had put in recently after questions arose about his fitness.

“Total team effort, Oshane Thomas brilliant, he has been doing hard work back home and it's showing,” said Pollard.

Pollard also thought highly of Rovman Powell’s performance with the ball.

Powell removed Hasaranga in the 16th over, trapping him leg before and changing the course of the game, as well as Thisara Perera, who was also scoring quickly when he had him caught by Sheldon Cottrell.

“We had an unsung hero in Rovman Powell with the ball late in the innings,” said Pollard, recognizing that the efforts of Thomas and Simmons may have overshadowed the allrounder’s contribution.

With the COVID-19 virus a constant threat to the international community, the Jamaica Badminton Association is taking no chances when it hosts the 2020 Jamaica International Badminton Tournament set to run from March 4-8 at the National Indoor Sports Centre in Kingston.

As she prepares for her third campaign at the Jamaica International Badminton tournament that serves off at the National Indoor Sports Centre in Kingston on Thursday, Jamaica’s Tahlia Richardson is not thinking too far ahead.

West Indies marked captain Kieron Pollard's 500th T20 game with a dominant victory over Sri Lanka on Wednesday.

Pollard became the first player to feature in 500 T20 matches and surpassed 10,000 runs in the format in Pallekele as the Windies cruised to a 25-run win.

The only other T20 series contested by the Windies this year ended in a 1-1 draw with Ireland. However, on this occasion the reigning T20 world champions provided compelling evidence they could defend their title later this year.

Oshane Thomas took a remarkable 5-28, the third-best figures in the team's T20I history, as Sri Lanka fell well shy of the visitors' 196-4 despite Kusal Perera's 66 off 38 balls.

Lendl Simmons had led the way with the bat for the tourists in the first game of a two-match series, his unbeaten 67 off 51 balls including seven fours and a pair of sixes.

Andre Russell cleared the rope four times in a quickfire 35 off 14 before Pollard, whose jersey was adorned with the number 500, added further impetus with 34 off 15 to help the Windies to their highest T20I score against Sri Lanka.

The hosts' hopes of reaching 197 quickly wilted in the face of a devastating bowling performance from Thomas, who had Avishka Fernando caught behind in the second over.

Shehan Jayasuriya followed with the next delivery and, though Thomas was unable to claim a hat-trick, Kusal Mendis' exit made it three in four balls for the seamer.

That left Sri Lanka on 17-3 but Kusal Perera and Angelo Mathews steadied the innings before the latter picked out a running Russell at midwicket.

Dasun Shanaka was done for pace as Thomas made it a five-for, yet Kusal Perera's stand of 87 with Wanindu Hasaranga (44 off 34) gave Sri Lanka hope.

However, the Windies correctly reviewed an lbw shout against Hasaranga and Kusal Perera was removed six balls later as Russell struck with a near-perfect yorker.

Thisara Perera (11) did offer fleeting resistance but was caught at deep square leg by Sheldon Cottrell who, after Pollard had fittingly taken a diving catch to remove Isuru Udana, rounded things off by cleaning up Lasith Malinga.

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