West Indies T20 vice-captain Nicholas Pooran has heaped praises on under pressure batsman Chris Gayle, insisting the veteran remains a valuable part of the team ahead of its attempted World Cup title defence.

The 42-year-old Gayle has found himself in the crosshairs of critics in recent months, with many insisting the player should have been overlooked in favour of younger talent.  The batsman'ss recent form will not have helped matters.  In the last year, Gayle has played a total of 16 matches, scored a total of 227 runs with an average of 17.46 and strike rate of 117.61, well down from his career average of 139.18.

Criticism of the batsman recently came to a head when he took exception to comments made by former fast bowler Curtly Ambrose who suggested that Gayle was not the same player he used to be.  Pooran is, however, certain of the value the player brings to the team.

“As much as everyone has questioned it, 14,000 runs doesn’t come about just like that.  Not many people know how to win T20 matches and T20 leagues and that sort of experience is invaluable,” Pooran told members of the media on Wednesday.

“The experience batting out in the middle, talking about intent, talking about taking on players when to go when not to go, you just don’t get experience like that,” he added.

“We are very happy to have him, even off the pitch he is someone who supports you 100 percent, someone who backs you 100 percent.  You talk about positivity, he is one of the most positive guys we have on the team, in the Caribbean.

“He’s a special human being.  Only when you play cricket with him or against him you’d know what it feels like to have him around.”

 

West Indies vice-captain Nicholas Pooran insists the team has looked to address well-noted concerns regarding the rotation of the strike but believes it is important to stick to its strengths, with the World Cup on the horizon.

Known internationally for their flamboyant, swashbuckling style, the Caribbean team will head into next week's tournament as defending champions.  However, despite having captured the global title on two occasions, questions have been raised in recent times regarding the team’s batting approach.

With a batting line-up filled with heavy hitters, the problematic issue stems from the tendency to soak up too many dot balls.  Pooran admits that it has been a focus but in the grand scheme of things the team intends to stay true to its style as it has delivered success in the past.

“We have net sessions and we as a group have spoken about it, we have players to play certain roles, honestly.  As a batting group, we want to get better, we want to improve, and getting singles is a part of that game as well, but our focus is not so much on singles,” Pooran told members of the media on Tuesday.

“We won two World Cups with the same problems, to be honest, not getting singles.  I don’t think the emphasis is so much on it, but on intent and playing smart cricket.  There are times that we know that will have to put our egos aside and grind for the team and if that means pushing a dot ball and getting singles, we’ll do that.”

Nicholas Pooran said he is not worried about his form and expects to be back to scoring runs once the T20 World Cup begins later this month.

West Indies T20 captain, Kieron Pollard, insists he remains unperturbed by the indifferent form of some players heading into the ICC T20 World Cup as there is still enough time to get things right.

With the start of the tournament just a few days away, there has been some concern raised regarding the form of a few of the team’s potential match-winners based on their performances in lead-up tournaments this year, most recently the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) and Indian Premier League (IPL).

Falling into that category and of primary concern would be the form of high-impact pair Chris Gayle and Nicholas Pooran, whose IPL form this season best illustrates the point.  The duo set the IPL alight for Punjab Kings XI last season and such form would have been welcome heading into next week.

In 2020, Pooran played 14 matches scoring 353 runs at an average of 35.30, by comparison, the player’s most recent campaign has ended with 85 runs at an average of 7.72, in 12 games.  For Gayle, 2020 saw him score 288 runs and average a healthy 41.14 in 7 games, however, this time around he could only manage 193 runs at an average of 21.44 in 10 games. 

Pollard, however, believes players who might not be in form still have plenty of time to kick into gear for the global showpiece, where they will start as defending champions.

“If we look too much into the past, then that is where sometimes we get ourselves into trouble,” Pollard told members of the media on Tuesday.

“Let’s deal with what we have in the present, the guys that have confidence, roll with them, the guys that don’t we try to get them into that zone with some practice sessions,” he added.

“We have a couple more games and then the big one, which is the World Cup, so from a perspective of being concerned, I know when it comes to the international stage it is about personal pride and individuals will want to show what they have to offer.”

 

      

 

West Indies head coach Phil Simmons says he is not concerned about the form of his vice-captain Nicholas Pooran as the team prepares to begin the defence of their ICC World T20 title later this month.

The West Indies, the only team to win the T20 title twice – in 2012 and 2016 – has seen their vice-captain struggle for form in the Indian Premier League where he batted in the middle order for the Punjab Kings with little success.

Coming off a fair campaign for the Guyana Amazon Warriors in the 2021 Hero CPL where in 10 innings he scored 263 runs at an average of 32.88 and strike rate of 163.35, Pooran who turned 26 on October 2, has experienced a precipitous dip in form in the IPL.

In 11 innings for the Punjab Kings, Pooran has only managed to score 85 runs at an anaemic average and strike rate of 7.72 and 111.84, respectively, numbers that have even him concerned.

“Definitely not the IPL season I wanted but the opportunity to be tested both mentally and physically was a great experience, one to learn from very fast,” the Trinidadian posted on Instagram this past weekend.

However, Simmons expressed faith in the player’s ability to return to form in time for the world cup in the United Arab Emirates where the West Indies will open their campaign against England on October 23.

“I am not too worried about Nicholas. I think Nicholas has been batting well,” said the head coach during a media session from the UAE on Monday. “In the CPL, he played well, there was a lot of pressure on him there and there is going to be more pressure here but I think he has been working hard enough. He is doing all that he has to do and sometimes it doesn’t come off, but it will come off so I am not worried about him.”

Since the start of the CPL in August, Pooran has had one score of over 50 runs in T20 matches, and that was an unbeaten 75 against the Jamaica Tallawahs on September 10.

 

 

Guyana Amazon Warriors have one foot in the 2021 Hero Caribbean Premier League (CPL) semi-finals following a 46-run victory over the Jamaica Tallawahs 

The Amazon Warriors won the toss and elected to bat first and captain Nicholas Pooran led the way with a brutal 75 not out to set the Tallawahs 170 to win.

In reply, the Tallawahs succumbed to a heavy defeat as Odean Smith and Gudakesh Motie combined to bowl the Amazon Warriors to victory.

Guyana got their innings off to a steady start amassing 46 runs in the PowerPlay but they had to contend with the loss of Brandon King and Chandrapaul Hemraj in doing so.

Despite Shimron Hetmyer then running himself out, Nicholas Pooran and Shoaib Malik put together a partnership of 54 runs from 33 balls to place Guyana in a strong position with six overs to go.

Pooran then took on the responsibility of getting his side into a good position and his pyrotechnics at the back end of the innings ensured Guyana Amazon Warriors posted a very competitive 169/6.

The Tallawahs were able to keep pace with the required run rate in the early stages of their reply as Haider Ali and Kirk Mckenzie overcame the loss of Kennar Lewis to put on a 41-run partnership.

Odean Smith’s entry into the attack proved pivotal as his two wickets in two balls swung the pendulum back in Guyana’s favour and he wasn’t done there as he also got rid of Andre Russell in a wonderful wicket maiden over.

Alongside Smith, Gudakesh Motie spun a web as his three wickets helped ensure there was no chance of an unlikely win for the Tallawahs.

The victory for the Amazon Warriors means the Tallawahs will now have to win the return game to make the semi-finals. 

West Indies vice-captain Nicholas Pooran played a sizzling career-best knock while fast bowler Jason Holder took career-best bowling figures, but Pakistan's bowling attack did just enough to take them to victory in the second match on Saturday.

Pooran's explosive unbeaten 62 off 33 balls with six 6s and four 4s kept the West Indies in with a chance of overcoming the target, even to the final over when 20 runs were required to overhaul Pakistan's total of 157-8.

However, Shaheen Shah Afridi claimed the wicket of captain Kieron Pollard (13) and then denied the rampant Pooran the opportunity to swing freely and lustily at the next three deliveries to ensure the visitors came away with the win, with the hosts kept to 150-4 off 20 overs.

West Indies suffered a setback when opening batsman Evin Lewis retired hurt on 35 off 33 balls with two fours and two sixes mid-way through the innings.

Earlier in the match, it was Holder and Dwayne Bravo who combined to put the brakes on the Pakistan scoring rate. Holder returned the excellent figures of 4-26 while Bravo, the leading wicket-taker in all T20 cricket, claimed 2-24 as the tourists squandered a solid platform provided by Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan.

Babar’s polished 51 off 58 balls with two sixes and four 4s was the top score of the innings. He put on 67 runs for the third wicket with Rizwan (46) after Sharjeel Khan and Rizwan had set the stage for a challenging target in putting on 56.

Pollard, who played the supporting role in a 70-run fourth-wicket partnership with Pooran to revive the West Indies chances, gave credit to the West Indies bowlers for limiting the visitors after he chose to put them in to bat.

 “We were staring down the barrel of a 170-plus total and I was really happy with the way the bowlers battled back in the latter half of their innings,” Pollard said.

“We had to try and explode towards the end, but it just didn't work out.”

Nicholas Pooran has guided West Indies to a series-levelling One Day International victory despite a scare in the run chase against Australia in Bridgetown on Saturday.

Akeal Hosein (30-3) and Alzarri Joseph (39-3) were exceptional in reducing Australia to 45-6 before the tourists rallied to 187.

But the West Indies stumbled in their chase, slumping to 72-5 before Pooran (59* from 75) combined with Jason Holder (52) for a decisive 93-run sixth-wicket stand.

Player of the Match Pooran was crucially dropped by Moises Henriques off Adam Zampa on 26, before making his eighth ODI half-century.

Mitchell Starc, who finished with 26-3 from 10 overs, had dismissed Evin Lewis (1) and Darren Bravo (duck), before trapping Holder LBW but Pooran guided the hosts home.

Earlier, Australia struggled with the bat, with Hosein dismissing Henriques, stand-in captain Alex Carey and Ashton Turner in an excellent spell.

Matthew Wade (36) and Adam Zampa (36) rallied for Australia, before an excellent late cameo from second-gamer Wes Agar (41 from 36).

POLLARD HAILS 'SCRATCHY' POORAN

West Indies captain Kieron Pollard said allowing Australia to reach 187 was disappointing but hailed Pooran's determination after a "scratchy" knock.

"What was good this time around was the fight by the guys, Nicholas Pooran getting that half-century and Jason Holder as well," Pollard said.

"Pooran has been looking like his old self again. He was a bit scratchy tonight but sometimes that's what you need in a game like this. You want someone to scrap and I think they both scrapped well for us to come through for a victory."

The West Indies avoided suffering back-to-back home defeats for the first time since August 2019.

Pooran's innings also took him past 1,000 ODI runs, becoming the 39th West Indian player to achieve the feat and the joint-third fastest for the side (Viv Richards – 21, Gordon Greenidge – 23, Ramnaresh Sarwan – 27).

AUSSIES STILL BULLISH AHEAD OF DECIDER

Australia are unbeaten in their past six ODI bilateral series (W4, D2) against West Indies and missed out on the opportunity to seal another victory but Carey remained bullish ahead of Monday's decider.

"Bring on game three," Carey said. "The batting group has a bit to prove to get a good score on the board for our quicks but our quicks and spinners are doing a great job."

The stand-in skipper bemoaned Australia's top-order batting, with none of the top six scoring more than 16.

"Obviously it doesn't help when you're five for not-a-lot," he said. "Wade and the bowlers did a great job to get us to a total and we were back in the game.

"We took some early wickets again and the belief was there. We created opportunities and we were in the game in the back end. Unfortunately we couldn't quite close it out and it proved we were 20 or 30 short."

Stand-in West Indies captain Nicholas Pooran insists he is not very bothered by his form, despite a difficult time at the crease in recent matches.

  The Windies currently lead their five-match T20 series against Australia, 3-1. So far, Pooran has made a total of 65 runs in three innings. He was run out in the first game for just 17 from 16 deliveries and did not bat in game 2.  He had a better game 3 when he scored a responsible 32 not out from 27 deliveries to build a partnership with Chris Gayle that led the Windies to the series victory.

Despite that good performance in the previous game, Pooran was dismissed cheaply once again in game 4. With the West Indies chasing 190 to win, he was caught off the bowling of Mitchell Marsh for just 16 from 15 deliveries.

Pooran’s lack of form has been a concern for many West Indies cricket fans and analysts since the IPL earlier this year. The left-hander, who represents the Punjab Kings, only managed 28 runs from 7 matches before the tournament was halted due to the rising COVID cases in India. He was dismissed for a duck 4 times out of his 6 innings with his highest score being 19.

“I’m not worried about myself to be honest. You know I’m getting starts which is very important. A couple of months ago (during the IPL), I wasn’t even getting starts at all so I’m very thankful, very happy to actually be getting starts. So, I’m not worried about myself in all honesty,” Pooran told members of the media during a press conference on Thursday.

  The West Indies will play the final game of their T20 series against Australia tonight at the Darren Sammy National Stadium in St Lucia. They will then move on to Barbados for a three-match ODI series.   

Stand in West Indies captain Nicholas Pooran believes things are tying together nicely for the squad, following a 3-1 series win against Australia.

After a difficult series loss against South Africa, the West played their way to a 3-0 lead against Australia in a five-match series, before suffering their first loss on Thursday.

Even so, the affair was a closely contested one, with the Windies losing by just four runs in pursuit of the visitor’s target of 189.  So far for the series the West Indies has boasted an average of 167, up from the 157.4 average against South Africa.  

“I think we are getting close to where we want to be.  We are starting to get opening partnerships of 50 and above, we’ll take that any day,” Pooran told members of the media via an online press conference.

“In the middle overs, for the first three games we batted really well, that is something we adjusted.  After the first series we played that situation well, last time we kind of faltered there a little bit,” he added.

“All in all, I think we are getting there.  You can see in the end now Fabian Allen coming in to bat with Polly out, he’s played that role wonderfully for us and can actually lengthen our batting and we can depend more on Allen.  So from a standing captain's point of view, I believe we are getting there.”

West Indies stand-in captain Nicholas Pooran has backed Andre Russell’s decision to face all six deliveries of the final over of Wednesday’s T20 match that was bowled by Mitchell Starc and from which the home side required 11 runs to take a 4-0 lead in the series.

The West Indies have clinched their T20 International series against Australia, racing to an unassailable 3-0 lead with a dominant six-wicket win in St Lucia on Monday.

Chris Gayle produced his best knock since his return to the international side, with 67 from 38 balls as the West Indies cruised in the chase, winning with 31 balls to spare.

Stand-in captain Nicholas Pooran (32* from 27 balls) finished the job with back-to-back boundaries off Riley Meredith (48-3) to seal the series victory with two games to play.

Australia captain Aaron Finch won the toss and elected to bat first this time, with his batsmen failing to capitalise on several starts, only managing 141-6.

Moises Henriques top scored with 33, hitting Australia's only two sixes, with Hayden Walsh restricting them with 18-2 from four overs.

The improved Mitchell Starc (18-1 from four) dismissed Andre Fletcher early, bringing Gayle to the crease and the 41-year-old was at his best.

Gayle hit several lusty blows, including seven sixes and four fours in his knock, before edging to wicketkeeper Matthew Wade off Meredith.

RETURN TO FORM FOR GAYLE?

Gayle has made it clear that his return to the West Indies, after two years away, has been inspired by competing at the T20 World Cup later this year.

Despite strong Indian Premier League form, he has struggled upon his return to the international arena, managing only 102 runs in nine innings.

The veteran left-hander made his first T20 International half-century since 2016 with his knock at first drop on Monday.

"From a personal point of view, you all knew I was struggling with the bat, but to be get some runs today it's very pleasing," Gayle said. "I want to dedicate these runs to my teammates, especially Kieron Pollard. He gave me the pep talk I needed."

Gayle made 288 runs in seven innings at an average of 41.14 in the 2020 IPL, before scoring 178 runs in eight knocks in the 2021 edition.

"Looking back, when I got back into the West Indies team against Sri Lanka, I was trying to play a different role, than play Chris Gayle himself," Gayle said. "I didn’t get the runs but the guys rallied around me. It's coming on, my main focus is the World Cup."

AUSSIES T20I WOES CONTINUE

Australia continue to struggle in the shortest format, having been comfortably beaten in all three matches in the series.

Finch, who made 30 from 31 deliveries at the top of the order, felt there was a clear theme to address among the losses.

"Same as the other games, we haven’t had the top order go on deep into the innings," Finch said. "It's been quite similar the whole way through. Credit to the West Indies, they bowled beautifully, especially at the back end."

Australia have only managed scores of 127, 140 and 141-6 in the three T20Is this series, bowled out on both occasions when they have chased.

"We would’ve liked more runs, no doubt," Finch added. "That comes down to the top order not going through. If one of your top four is there through the end you put pressure on the bowlers."

West Indies batsman Nicholas Pooran insists the team can have no excuses for losing the third T20 match against South Africa as they were in a strong position to claim a win.

South Africa won the third encounter between the teams by a single run to take a 2-1 lead in the five-match T20I series.  At 96 for 3, at the halfway mark, chasing 168, the West Indies seemed well on the way to the target but were often stifled by Tabraiz Shamsi who turned in the most economical effort of his career (2 for 13 in four overs).

Even so, needing 44 runs off the last four overs, Andre Russell seemed set to deliver a win for the team when he smashed back-to-back sixes off Anrich Nortje but was dismissed later in the over after also being dropped.

Pooran, who made a pedestrian 26 for 28, and is really yet to fire for the series, smashed Lungi Ngidi over midwicket for six off the second ball of the 18th over but could not maintain that momentum and was dismissed by Nortje in a penultimate over that only cost 4 runs.

“I felt like South Africa bowled well, they bowled well in the middle and they bowled well in the last two overs of the game and I think that’s where they won the game,” Pooran said following the match.

“As a team, we are still building, we are still trying to bind as a team.  I didn’t think it was too bad, in T20 games partnerships form, you lose wickets, but I felt like today was our game to win in all honesty,” he added.

“We had that partnership, I was there until the second to last over with Fabian and we should have found a way to win that game.  No excuses.”

 

Andre Russell has been named among a 13-man squad for the first and second CG Insurance T20 Internationals (T20I) against South Africa starting on Saturday (June 26) in Grenada.

The matches will be played at the Grenada National Stadium on Saturday and Sunday. The first ball daily is 2 pm (1 pm Jamaica Time).

Russell is a two-time T20 World Cup winner, having been a member of the squad which won the titles in 2012 and 2016. He has played 49 T20Is for the West Indies and his last appearance was against Sri Lanka in Pallekele in March last year.

“Andre Russell will add that ‘X’ factor to the team. He is an impact player with both bat and ball and lends greater depth in both departments," said Chief Selector Roger Harper while explaining the reason for the Jamaican's recall.

"The aim is to build on the performance against Sri Lanka earlier this year, to build confidence while determining our best squad and team as we run into the ICC T20 World Cup.”

 Trinidad's Kieron Pollard will lead the squad and have compatriot Nicholas Pooran as his vice-captain. The other members of the squad include Fabian Allen, Dwayne Bravo, Fidel Edwards, Andre Fletcher, Chris Gayle, Jason Holder, Evin Lewis, Obed McCoy, Andre Russell, Lendl Simmons and Kevin Sinclair.

Fully vaccinated fans will be able to buy tickets for the game from the stadium box office and ticket booths on presentation of their vaccination documentation and their national ID, with tickets available at EC$50 per match.

Fans in the Caribbean can watch live on Flow Sports or via the Flow Sports app. Live radio commentary is available on the Windies Cricket YouTube channel and on a number of local radio stations across the Caribbean. Fans also follow live ball by ball scoring in the www.windiescricket.com live match centre, featuring the new live match blog.

Former Indian cricketer, Pragyan Ojha, believes the Punjab Kings XI are heaping unnecessary pressure onto batsmen Chris Gayle and Nicholas Pooran, due to the team's approach to structuring its innings.

Pooran has struggled to make an impact in six matches so far this season, managing just a high score of 19 and failing to score on three occasions.  Gayle has had more of a mixed performance, scoring 40 plus on two occasions but also had a series of low scores, including a golden duck in the team’s last encounter against Kolkata Knightriders.

Ojha, however, believes that the team’s top two KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal might be thinking about scoring too quickly and posting too big a target too early in the innings.

"They should think about 160-170 at first. But if you start thinking from the beginning that we have a very good batting line-up with Chris Gayle and Nicholas Pooran and we should aim 180-190 then you are putting undue pressure on (them),” Ojha told Cricbuzz.

"You can only think about a big score once you have got a good start. So you have to change your plans accordingly. You can't think that you have big names and they will always score runs. You have the look at the kind of form they are in too. Can't plan based on past glory," Ojha added.

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