West Indies Indies T20 star, Chris Gayle, insists he is feeling fit and at the top of his game after a decisive performance for Punjab Kings XI, in a win against defending champions Mumbai Indians, in the Indian Premier Leauge (IPL) on Friday.

Gayle made a steady 43 from 35 deliveries, and along with KL Rahul, who added 60 from 52, anchored Kings XI to an 8-wicket win. 

The batsman’s innings was, however, uncharacteristically devoid of massive slogs over the boundary as he hit only two sixes.  The 41-year-old did gather quite a few runs darting for quick singles, which has not been a part of his game in recent years.

The veteran batsman had come under criticism in recent days following a string of low scores and a 1-3 start for Punjab.  Gayle, however, insists he is feeling in excellent shape and was happy for the result.

"I am feeling very good, a bit relieved. We wanted this win badly, playing against the defending champions was always going to be tough. They played four games, to actually get this win is fantastic for the team and the Universe Boss as well.

“I was looking pretty good, running between the wickets, I am feeling fit and good about myself. I am enjoying it, I am looking after my body, getting a lot of massages so I can move freely, humidity here in Chennai also kind of lets the blood flow so I am on top of my game," Gayle told the official IPL website.

 West Indies bowler, Alzarri Joseph, added a tidy two-wicket haul to a maiden half-century to help put English County club Worcestershire in a commanding position against Nottinghamshire at New Road.

Chasing a sizeable first innings score of 436, Nottinghamshire crumbled for 276, despite 111 from opener Haseeb Hameed and not losing their first wicket until they had put 115 runs on the board.

Charlie Morris had the best bowling figures for Worcestershire, after taking 3 for 30 but Joseph chipped in with 2 for 33.  The West Indies accounted for top-order batsman Ben Duckett and Nottinghamshire were then forced to follow on still some 160 runs short of the target.

In the first innings, Joseph was part of a staunch lower-order effort that ballooned the tally late on.  Joseph recorded his first half-century in the competition with 61, Ed Barnard added 58 and captain Joe Leach 84.

The total adds to Joseph’s debut innings of 46 from 55 against Derbyshire last week.  On that occasion, the bowler also chipped in with 3 wickets.

West Indies all-rounder, Andre Russell, has revealed he was too overcome with emotion to head straight back to the dressing room, after being bowled by Chennai Super Kings’ Sam Curran, in an 18 runs loss for Kolkatta Knight Riders on Wednesday.

The viral photo of a dejected Russell sitting on the steps did the rounds on social media, and the player has taken the time out to explain the emotions associated with the moment.

“Well, I was very emotional and I didn’t know how to go to the changing room and face all my teammates after leaving a ball and getting out bowled like that,” Russell told KKR.in.

“You know, the job is not complete, and I wanted to take the team over the line. So, I think the emotions got the best of me but staying strong,” he added.

KKR found themselves chasing a sizeable 221 for victory and in real trouble at 31 for 5. Russell and Dinesh Karthik had, however, started to lead the fightback. Russell hit 6 sixes and smashed a 21-ball fifty to give KKR hope and seemed set on delivering on one of his famous comeback specials.  He was, however, dismissed against the run of play, for 54, in the 12th over when he left a Curran delivery, which crashed into his leg stump.

 

South African and Chennai Super Kings fast bowler, Lungi Ngidi, has credited West Indies T20 star Dwayne Bravo with playing a pivotal role in his strong start to the 2021 IPL season.

The towering speedster earned widespread plaudits after putting together an extraordinarily economical 3 for 28, in a high-scoring encounter against Kolkata Knight Riders on Wednesday.

With some 422 runs scored in the match, Ngidi, who was tasked with death bowling duties after replacing Bravo in the line-up, had a solid economy rate of 7.00.  The South African’s skills and variations were on full display after he trapped an attacking Dinesh Karthik with a slower ball dismissal, a delivery that would surely have pleased his West Indian tutor.

“There was a lot of pressure, Bravo has been doing very well for CSK. So, I had to come in and fill his shoes,” Ngidi told the IPL’s official website.

“I have worked very closely with Bravo on the slower bowls at the death. One of the slower bowls he has been teaching me for a long time came off and got us a wicket.”

In the end, CSK won by 18 runs, in no small part thanks to Faf Du Plessis’ brutal, unbeaten 95 from 60 deliveries.  The 37-year-old Bravo was rested for the encounter, due to workload concerns.

 

West Indies fast bowler, Alzarri Joseph, put in another solid performance for English County Cricket club Worcestershire, against Nottinghamshire, at New Road One cricket ground on Thursday.

At the end of the first day, Joseph remained unbeaten on 46 from 81 balls and sharing in an eighth-wicket stand worth 89 runs with Ed Barnard.  The partnership took Worcestershire to 305 for 7, after looking in some trouble at 216 for 7 earlier on.

The total marks Joseph’s second 40+runs innings of the young season, having opened up with 46 from 55 against Derbyshire last week.  On that occasion, the bowler also chipped in with 3 wickets drawing commendation from Worcestershire coach, Alex Gidman, who praised the player's mentality.

When play resumes Joseph could be looking for his first half-century in the competition, having signed a seven-game deal with Worcestershire for the first part of the season a few weeks ago.

The 24-year-old has taken 37 wickets from 15 Tests and shown plenty of ability with the bat of late, scoring half-centuries on successive Test tours of New Zealand and Bangladesh.

 

 

Former Indian bowler Ajit Agarkar believes an out of sorts Chris Gayle creates a tricky situation for Punjab Kings XI who may be hesitant to drop the player.

The 41-year-old game began the season on a good note, scoring 40 from 28 balls in the first match, a victory against Rajasthan Royals.  The veteran batsman has struggled to connect since then, scoring 10, 11, and 15 in the team’s next three games.  The Kings have lost all three for a 1-3 start to the season.

Agarkar believes at this age, the Kings must weigh closely the benefits of keeping Gayle in the line-up, if he is not scoring the required runs.

"I don't know, he started well. He got 40 in the first game. The challenge with Chris Gayle is that he did not play the first few games last season and then came back, and he was as good as ever. So, I can understand it is a difficult decision to sit him out," Agarkar told Espncricinfo.

"If he is it and when he has done well, you always want to accommodate him. How long can you go on if he is not firing, especially at this stage of his career?" he asked.

Last season, Gaye was left out of the line-up for the team’s first 6 games but returned to play a pivotal role in their run for a place in the play-offs, following another slow start.  Gayle is not the only West Indian struggling at the moment, however, as Nicholas Pooran, a standout performer last season has only scored 9 runs in fours games, including three ducks.

"Their problem is that Nicholas Pooran is not scoring run either, who they must have had high hopes from. It's a tricky one. I don't know how long they can keep playing Chris Gayle if he is not getting runs.”

A wretched start to the Indian Premier League (IPL) continued for Windies and Punjab Kings XI batsman, Nicholas Pooran, as he was dismissed for a third duck in just four games against Sunrisers Hyderabad on Wednesday.

Last season, Pooran lit up the tournament as one of the competition’s most in-form players, scoring an impressive 353 runs in 14 games, with an average of 35.  He clearly has not started this campaign at a similar pace.

In four matches so far, the batsman has scored just nine runs, and that was in one match.  In the others, he has left the crease much too quickly to trouble the tally.

In addition to just the wretched run of form, however, some fans have poked fun at the order of the player’s scoreless dismissals. 

He was dismissed for a two balls duck against the Rajasthan Royals in his side's first game. He was then out for a first-ball duck against the Chennai Super Kings.  On Wednesday, Pooran got out for a diamond duck, without even facing a ball as he was run out as soon as he came to the crease.  Punjab Kings XI, who could muster only 120 runs in their 20 overs, lost the match by eight wickets and have recorded one win in their first four games.

 

West Indies legend Brian Lara has tipped for T20 captain, Jason Holder, as the Windies player who could shine most brightly in the India Premier League (IPL) this season.

 The all-rounder was retained by Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) for the new campaign, after only coming in as a substitute for Australian Mitchell Marsh last season.

Holder went on to score 66 runs, in seven matches, at an average of 33, and claimed 14 wickets, the third most on the team despite playing less than half the games.  Lara, who is part of a commentary panel for this season’s tournament, has tipped the player to carry on in the same vein.

“Jason Holder could do pretty well. He ended up replacing Mitchell Marsh in the 2020 IPL, so I expect him to maybe come up with trumps this year,” Lara told StarSports.

“The tracks are not so favourable to the pace where he is playing at present, but he is such a good all-round player that I hope he can maintain his play and really show that the West Indians are here to stay,” he added.

Holder could, however, have plenty of competition for the top West Indian player with the likes of Kieron Pollard, Chris Gayle, Andre Russell, and Nicholas Pooran also taking part in this season’s competition.

 

 

A yet-to-be-settled dispute currently roiling South Africa cricket threatens to scupper the team’s chances of touring the West Indies later this year.

The Proteas have been tentatively scheduled to tour the Caribbean in June of this year, most likely in Trinidad and Tobago, but a dispute between Cricket South Africa (CSA) and the government could lead to its cancellation.

The issue stems from the government's request that Cricket South Africa (CSA) adopt a new constitution for cricket administration in the country.  In a recent meeting, however, CSA voted against adopting the measure.  The country’s sports minister is as a result said to be considering taking serious measures against the board.

One option could be to take away the body’s right to designate itself as the official national representative of the country.  As such, CSA could not then select a national team for the tour of the Caribbean.

South Africa is one of several countries that are lined up to tour the Caribbean this year, as the region looks to recover from the financial setback of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Sri Lanka toured the region last month and Australia and Pakistan are also expected to tour the Caribbean later this year.  The South Africa series was previously reported to consist of two Tests and five T20s.

 

 Former England captain turned cricket analyst. Michael Vaughan. has questioned the overall fitness of West Indies all-rounder Andre Russell, despite the player’s fair start to the Indian Premier League (IPL) season.

In the second game of the campaign for the Kolkatta Knight Riders, Russell cleaned up the Mumbai Indians' tail for career-best figures of 5-15.  In the same match, however, the player was unable to finish the job with the bat as the Knight Riders slumped to a dramatic 10-run defeat as Russell added 9 from 15.

Vaughan pointed to the batsman’s work in the field and running between the crease as evidence the big hitter is not quite at his best.

“You got a player like Andre Russell, who has been a superstar, but on the field, when the ball is coming to him, he is always using his feet. He is obviously someone who cannot go down. It’s a very clever and careful aspect which Eoin Morgan will have to manage,” Vaughan told Cricbuzz.

“When he (Andre Russell) is at his best, he is great. But when you see him on the field, and when is bowling, he appears to be struggling. While batting he is not taking the twos,” he added.

“He needed to take the twos in the 19th over. Because you want him back on strike. Very difficult to manage for Brendon McCullum and Eoin Morgan.”

The Knight Riders have won 1 of their first 3 matches.

Big-hitting West Indian batsman, Kieron Pollard, joined elite Indian Premier League (IPL) company when became one of only a handful of players to hit 200 sixes, during Mumbai Indians' third match of IPL 2021 against Sunrisers Hyderabad.

After a slow start to the campaign, Pollard exploded into life on Saturday hitting 35 from just 22 balls, lifting Mumbai to 150.  The West Indian’s knock consisted of three sixes, in the end playing a crucial role in a 13-run win.

 Pollard became the 6th batter to get past 200 sixes in the IPL.  The list is led by his compatriot Gayle who has hit 351 sixes, 114 more than 2nd-placed AB de Villiers. Rohit Sharma is third on the list followed by MS Dhoni.  Pollard went level with Royal Challengers Bangalore captain Virat Kohli after finishing the Mumbai Indians innings on Saturday with 201 sixes.

Pollard is, however, the only man among the top 10 on the list for most boundaries in the IPL with more sixes than fours — 201 sixes, 199 fours.  Pollard also became only the third overseas player after Gayle and de Villiers to hit 200 sixes.

 West Indies batsman, Kyle Mayers, thinks losing the captaincy may have been a blessing in disguise for all-rounder Jason Holder, who he thinks is freer to be more himself without the additional responsibility.

After seven years in charge, Holder was replaced as captain of the Test team last month by Kraigg Brathwaite.  Brathwaite was himself promoted to the post after successfully taking charge during a successful tour of Bangladesh, which Holder had opted out of, along with 11 other players.

The change in circumstances has, however, not affected Holder’s play on the field and, equally importantly, he has been vocal with his encouragement of teammates on the field.  The previously mentioned characteristic is one many of his critics believe was absent during the majority of his tenure as captain.

 “Jason brought a different personality to the dressing room than what was in Bangladesh and it’s been working out nicely, especially the hard times in the field, Jason has been behind the guys, pushing us to do well.  I think him being skipper stopped that for a few years,” Mayers told SportsMax.tv’s The Commentators podcast.

“That’s the type of person he actually is.  A jovial person, always making fun, talking a lot.  I guess as captain being focused on the game, he couldn’t do that as much but now he is free, probably just trying to play as well as he can and be as free as he can,” he added.

“For me, if you are enjoying cricket more and you have less to worry about, it should make you better.  You focus more on yourself.”

Catch the full episode of The Commentators podcast below 

 

 

Promising West Indies batsman, Kyle Mayers, has expressed confidence at the prospect of becoming a top international Test cricket all-rounder, on the back of encouraging displays with both the bat and ball in recent months.

The attacking-minded Mayers burst on the scene with a stroke-filled 210 unbeaten in the first Test against Bangladesh, in February of this year.  However, against Sri Lanka last month, the player also had a good turn with the ball.  Not only extracting movement from a placid pitch but taking four wickets in the process, with just a short spell.

The display prompted some pundits to suggest that the player had the ability to become a dependable all-rounder for the squad if he could improve his overall fitness.

Bowling would not have been entirely new to Mayers, however, as he was at one point considered more of a bowling all-rounder, having claimed 71 wickets in 30 first-class matches at an average of 21.54.  Having displayed more prowess with the bat in recent months, Mayers is convinced that he can do both at the highest level in the mold of former West Indies captain Jason Holder, or England’s Ben Stokes, the world’s top-ranked all-rounders.

“I have it in me to do it.  I just have to become fitter,” Mayer’s told SportsMax’s The Commentators podcast.

“I just started Test cricket and people think watching it on tv, it’s very easy, it’s very hard.  I will always say that, and I will always let young people coming up know that if you want to play Test cricket you need to work very hard,” he added.

“Preparation is key for me to be up there with Jason.  It will take that hard work, but I believe I can do it for sure.  Having number one and maybe number two in the world can’t be so bad.  If they had two of the world’s best all-rounders the guys would be happy.”

 Catch full interview in the Podcast below

 

 

Former West Indies captain, Daren Sammy, insists veteran batsman Chris Gayle would be a sure pick in his squad for the upcoming T20 World Cup as the player’s experience and explosive ability remain invaluable.

The recent decision by Cricket West Indies (CWI) to recall the batsman for the recent series against Sri Lanka was met with criticism in some quarters, with some believing the selectors should have opted for younger talent.  The player's struggles in the series did little to dispel that notion.

Sammy, the two-time T20 World Cup-winning captain, however, does not agree.

“After watching Chris Gayle play in the Pakistan Super League, the IPL late last year, and looking at his career, I think he should definitely go to the World Cup,” Sammy told Line and Length on SportsMax.

“Whether he plays in the final XI is a matter for the guys on tour because you will have Evin (Lewis) and (Lendl) Simmons, but Chris’ experience in India and what he brings to the team, I would have him with me,” he added.

“Chris is a batting leader! He has over 20 hundreds in T20s and the next person after that has eight or nine and his experience cannot be underrated so I would have him with me. He knows the big occasion and you bet he can still turn it on…. I will go with him,” said Sammy from his home in St. Lucia.

Gayle has played 31 T20s for the West Indies and scored two centuries and 13 half-centuries, with an average of 31.24 and a strike rate of 140.81. At the last World Cup, he scored an unbeaten 100 in the first match against England but ended the series with 113 runs from four innings.

Sammy, who was at the helm when the team won the T20 World Cup in Sri Lanka, in 2012, versus the hosts, and in 2016 against England, thinks that the West Indies can win again if they improve their bowling attack.

“We have the batting firepower, but we are missing two x-factor bowlers. Fidel is back and brings some pace, but I think our best chance will be chasing totals. We don’t have that Sunil Narine type of bowler and, to be honest, that’s the missing link. We can win but we need a couple of bowlers to put pressure on for eight overs,” explained Sammy.

 

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