West Indies captain, Kieron Pollard, has urged the team to show more fight on the back of a disappointing loss to Australia to open the ODI series between the teams on Tuesday.

Despite the high of coming off a dominant T20I series, the Windies were crushed by 133 runs, via the DLS method.  Batting first, Australia made 259 for 9 but in response, the West Indies could only muster 123 all out and were at one stage, 27 for 6.

For his part, Pollard, who only just returned to the team, made a battling 56.  In an innings where four batsmen were dismissed without scoring, the captain could have used more of that grit from the rest of the team.

“I was disappointed with our overall batting performance, not being able to chase down 250 from the position that we were in,” Pollard told members of the media.

“I didn’t think we showed enough fight or enough courage.  They are going to come hard at us, it’s an experienced bowling attack that they have so we need to fight as a team and as individuals when we go out there.”

Australia fast bowler Mitchell Starc was the dangerman for the tourists after ending with figures of 5 for 48.

Pace pair Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood have fired Australia to a 133-run Duckworth-Lewis victory in the opening One Day International (ODI) of the three-game series against the West Indies in Barbados on Tuesday.

Player of the Match Starc claimed 48-5 from eight overs while the economical Hazlewood finished with 11-3 from six overs as the tourists responded after their 4-1 T20I series defeat.

Missing captain Aaron Finch, the Australians had managed 252-9 from 49 overs with the bat, led by stand-in skipper Alex Carey's 67 and Ashton Turner's 49 from 45 balls.

Leg-spinner Hayden Walsh continued his good form with the ball, taking 39-5 for his maiden ODI five-wicket haul.

Australia turned the game with the ball, with Starc dismissing opener Evin Lewis caught and bowled first ball, while Jason Mohammed (two), Darren Bravo (two) and Nicholas Pooran (duck) did not last long either.

Starc and Hazlewood took three wickets each as the West Indies slumped to 27-6 inside eight overs, before captain Kieron Pollard's lone rearguard.

Left-arm quick Starc had Pollard caught by Turner for 56 from 57 balls, effectively ending the resistance with Walsh last to fall to Adam Zampa with the West Indies 123 all out.

POSITIVE DAY FOR AUSSIE DEBUTANTS

Australia got the response they wanted after a disappointing T20I series, even with three ODI debutants in the side; Wes Agar, Josh Philippe and Ben McDermott.

The Aussies were also missing captain Finch, but first-time captain Carey showed his composure and quality with his steady knock after Australia had been in some trouble at 114-4 at the halfway mark.

Starc said about Carey: "He's pretty calm and collected today. He did fantastic with the bat.

"If he had any nerves, that probably helped him settle down. It's nice to get him a win in his first game as captain and three young fellas on debut."

Australia have long struggled in the shortest format but are much more adept in 50-over cricket as five-time World Cup winners.

POLLARD DEMANDS FOR 'FIGHT'

Australia's quicks dominated the early overs with the ball, decimating the West Indies' top order leaving captain Pollard scratching his head.

The West Indies' top five combined for a total of 15 runs, as Starc and Hazlewood bowled brilliantly, while normally reliable all-rounder Jason Holder also fell for a duck.

"The biggest thing is I want our guys to fight," Pollard said. "The ball was swinging but we can't just give it away. The most disappointing factor for me is we didn’t show that fight.

"We have to find a way to get through that first six to 10 overs when the ball is actually moving a lot and see where that takes us."

When asked about Starc and Hazlewood's spell, Carey simply said "wow". He added: "I probably haven’t seen a powerplay like that before."

West Indies white-ball captain Kieron Pollard sees more specialist players coming in as replacements for some of the all-rounders, who played in the just-concluded T20 series when the team takes on Australia in the first of three ODIs starting tomorrow at the Kensington Oval in Barbados.

Australia are hoping captain Aaron Finch can overcome injury to lead the side in the ODI series against West Indies in Barbados, which starts on Tuesday.

Finch twisted his knee while fielding in the closing T20I in St Lucia before going on to score 34 – despite his movements being visibly compromised – as Australia lost by 16 runs and slumped to a 4-1 series defeat.

Matthew Wade is the most likely candidate to take the captaincy if Finch is absent, having done so in the T20I series against India last year.

The 34-year-old opener would be a big miss to an Australia side already without Steve Smith and David Warner, who are injured and rested respectively. Ashton Agar (hamstring) and Ben McDermott (quadriceps) are progressing well.

Australia named an expanded squad for their limited-overs trip to the West Indies to mitigate against the possibility of any coronavirus absentees, although reserves Nathan Ellis and Tanveer Sangha are both bowlers.

Handily illustrating the contrasting state in which both teams approach this three-match rubber, while the tourists are trying to scrabble together a serviceable top order, West Indies head coach Phil Simmons is asking his batsmen to kick on from recent success and post consistently imposing totals.

Shai Hope, Evin Lewis and Darren Bravo each hit centuries in the 3-0 win over Sri Lanka earlier in the year, although each of those successes came when batting second – meaning there was no need for the Windies to extend themselves to 300 and beyond.

 

"We are looking for the way we batted to continue and improvements have to be made in the middle overs from 20-39 in order for us to get from 280-290 to the 320-330 we'll need against Australia," Simmons said, as quoted by ESPNCricinfo. "We've been discussing that since the Sri Lanka series so now it's time to put it into action."

Finch's opposite number Kieron Pollard is closing in on a return having sat out the T20I series due to a hamstring complaint while fellow all-rounder Jason Holder is set to return after being rested.

Australia need more Mitch-hitting

In the absence of Smith, Warner and possibly Finch, there will be even more onus on Mitchell Marsh. The powerful batting all-rounder enjoyed a superb series batting at number three during the T20Is and his 219 runs were the most by any player on either side. Marsh's ODI batting average of 34.36 is his best across the three international formats.

Windies opener Evin the time of his life

Fresh from plundering an explosive 79 to be named player of the match in St Lucia, thumping nine sixes from 34 deliveries, opener Lewis will be relishing taking his sparkling form onto the 50-over stage. The destructive left-hander followed 65 in the first match against Sri Lanka at North Sound with 103 – his fourth ODI century to stand alongside nine fifties.

Key Opta facts

- Australia have won 10 of their past 11 ODIs against West Indies but this will be just their second 50-over meeting in five years.
- West Indies' last ODI series win against Australia came in 1995; they have lost four of six since.
- Hope has posted a score in excess of 50 in each of his previous six ODI innings, including two centuries. Only Pakistan great Javed Miandad has bettered this streak in history, when he passed 50 nine consecutive times between March and October in 1987.
- Four of Shimron Hetmyer's past seven dismissals in ODIs cricket for West Indies have been against spin, more times than in his 14 prior (three).
- Finch is 69 runs shy of becoming the sixth player to score 2,000 runs for Australia as captain in ODIs. His batting average of 49.5 as skipper is the highest of any player to have captained Australia at least five times.

Australia overcame a controversial fourth-minute red card for Marika Koroibete as they beat France 33-30 in a thrilling contest to take the Test series 2-1.

Les Blues claimed their first away win over Australia for 31 years in Melbourne last week to level the series, but they fell short in Saturday's tense decider at Suncorp Stadium.

The Wallabies had to defy the odds after wing Koroibete was harshly dismissed early on for a high tackle on opposition skipper Anthony Jelonch. It was their first Test red card since Tevita Kuridrani was dismissed against Ireland in November 2013.

France initially took full advantage of the extra man as Baptiste Couilloud crossed from close range to add to Melvyn Jaminet's earlier penalty.

But Australia responded almost instantly when Tate McDermott went over unopposed and Noah Lolesio touched down soon after – those tries sandwiching another Jaminet penalty – to swing the game in the hosts' favour.

 

After Cameron Woki went over the top of the Wallabies' defence and slammed down for France's second try, Lolesio kicked his second penalty to level up the game at 20-20 midway through.

France then put themselves in a strong position to complete a series win when Pierre-Louis Barassi raced through early in the second half to round off a sensational move.

However, Australia hit back once again through Taniela Tupou, who evaded a few opposition players to cross the whitewash, before Lolesio and Jaminet exchanged penalties.

Australia had a try for Brandon Paenga-Amosa ruled out for a knock-on, but France's ill-discipline would cost them as they conceded another penalty that Lolesio made no mistake in converting two minutes from time to settle the series. 

Evin Lewis blasted nine sixes and the West Indies to a 16-run victory to complete a 4-1 T20I series triumph over Australia in St Lucia on Friday.

Batting at the top of the order, Lewis smashed 79 from 34 balls, including four fours and nine sixes to get the West Indies off to a flying start after captain Nicholas Pooran won the toss.

Lewis fell at 124-3 at the end of the 11th over, before Andrew Tye took three late wickets while Mitch Marsh impressed again with 12-2.

Pooran (31 from 18) and Chris Gayle (21 from seven) contributed as the West Indies amassed an imposing 199-8, although Australia started brightly in reply led by Marsh.

Marsh came to the crease after opener Josh Philippe fell for one, hitting five fours and one six, before falling off Andre Russell's first ball for 30 from 15 deliveries.

A visibly limping Aaron Finch was spectacularly caught by Fabian Allen with a diving left-hand effort for 34 from 23 off the impressive Hayden Walsh who took the most wickets in the series.

Wickets continued to fall with regularity as Andre Russell finished with a personal T20I best 43-3.

LEWIS PUSHES WORLD CUP CASE

Lewis was dropped after a duck in the opening T20I, before returning with 31 in Wednesday's dead rubber.

But the 29-year-old Trinidadian showcased his ability with a stunning knock on Friday setting the tone for the hosts.

The left-hander is one of the West Indies' players vying for a spot in their final T20 World Cup squad and did his hopes no harm, in a side missing several key players including Kieron Pollard.

Lewis said post-game: "I basically stayed still and watched the ball on to the bat. It's always good to score runs and contribute to the team to get the victory."

The Trinidadian's only two T20I centuries both came in 2017. He added: "I've been working hard from 2017 to now. Obviously, I want to keep scoring runs and cashing in at all times."

MARSH PROVES SHINING LIGHT

Australia lost the series 4-1 with Marsh their shining light from the five-game T20I series, producing another display of his quality in the shortest format on Friday.

Marsh took 12-2 from two overs and crunched 30 from 15, finishing the series with 219 runs at 43.8 with a strike rate above 150.

The big all-rounder also hit 10 sixes throughout the series, double the next best Australian, while he also hit a team-high 20 fours.

Marsh also chipped with the ball, taking a team-high eight wickets, including 24-3.

Finch said: "I think Mitch Marsh stood out with his first opportunity at number three consistently and the role that he did with the ball."

Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love has withdrawn from Team USA's roster for the Tokyo Olympics with two replacements confirmed.

Love joins Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal, who has entered health and safety protocols, in dropping out of USA's original 12-man roster.

USA Basketball (USAB) announced on Friday that Denver Nuggets center JaVale McGee and San Antonio Spurs small forward Keldon Johnson have replaced the duo.

USAB said Love's withdrawal was due to "his ongoing injury recovery", having been returning from a right calf injury during the camp in Las Vegas where he did participate in exhibition games.

"I am incredibly disappointed to not be heading to Tokyo with Team USA," Love said in a statement released by Schwartz.

"But you need to be at absolute peak performance to compete at the Olympic level and I am just not there yet."

McGee averaged 7.3 points per game and 5.2 rebounds per game, shooting at 51.1 per cent from the field in the 2020-21 NBA season for the Nuggets.

Johnson, 21, averaged 12.8 points per game, 6.0 rebounds per game and 1.8 assists per game in the 2002-21 season for the Spurs.

Team USA are due to fly out for Tokyo on Monday, with their Olympics opener against France on July 25.

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.   

The United States are always favourites at the Olympic Games – and rightly so. In 18 entries to the men's basketball event, Team USA have collected 18 medals, 15 of them gold.

But those three defeats serve as a warning for Gregg Popovich's side.

And any remaining complacency heading to Tokyo 2020 – in pursuit of a fourth straight title – should have been shifted by their initial pre-tournament exhibitions.

The United States lost to Nigeria last Saturday and then to Australia two days later, their third and fourth defeats in exhibitions since first fielding NBA players with the formation of the 'Dream Team' in 1992.

"It was better," as Popovich said, in Tuesday's win over Argentina – "bit by bit, every day, I hope," the coach added – but the pressure is still on, as consistent results must follow when the real action begins.

 

TOUGH START FOR TEAM USA SUPERSTARS

Of course, Team USA have never failed to advance from the preliminary round and that spotless record is highly unlikely to change this year. A kind draw has thrown up only one true test, but it comes first up: against France.

Indeed, Les Bleus dealt the United States their humiliating quarter-final exit at the FIBA Basketball World Cup two years ago.

Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert – the three-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year – put up a game-high 16 rebounds in that France victory and his size is a real problem for familiar opponents.

Gobert led the league with 2.7 blocks and 10.1 defensive rebounds per game in 2020-21, snaring 33.5 per cent of defensive boards while on the floor for the third-best mark in the NBA.

Bam Adebayo and Draymond Green might be versatile but, as the two preferred American options at the five, finding joy in the middle seems unlikely, while Team USA might also struggle to stop 7ft 1in Gobert on defense. His 67.5 per cent shooting was another benchmark.

However, the talent elsewhere in the Team USA lineup should ensure they have enough to win most matchups.

Kevin Durant shot 52.3 per cent from the midrange and 45.0 per cent from beyond the arc in the regular season; only two players made more threes than Damian Lillard (275), who then broke Klay Thompson's record with 12 makes from deep in a single playoff game against the Denver Nuggets.

The opener could either see Durant and Co lay down a marker for the rest of the tournament or provide other contenders with a blueprint for beating the United States.

 

BOOMERS BANG UP FOR MEDAL PURSUIT

Australia are far from the biggest team at the Games, but they have already shown the joy that can be found in the paint against Team USA, scoring 44 points from inside the key in their exhibition win.

The Boomers' effective, well-executed gameplan was all the more impressive given the unsettled nature of their team.

They have changed coach three times since the World Cup, and star name Ben Simmons is absent – working to "develop that skill package and improve in a couple of areas", Brian Goorjian said, after averaging an awful 9.9 points per game in the playoff series defeat to the Atlanta Hawks.

But Philadelphia 76ers team-mate Matisse Thybulle is still on hand to provide defensive energy, having led the NBA in steal percentage (3.9), while Patty Mills remains more reliable at international level than for Popovich's San Antonio Spurs.

Four times beaten in the bronze medal game, Australia will expect to finally secure some hardware, yet Group B also contains a dark horse in the form of Nigeria, who followed up their own victory against the United States by dominating Argentina.

Miami Heat guard Gabe Vincent had 21 points against the country of his birth, a total he has only once topped in his NBA career to date.

Nigeria have chemistry, talent and, in Golden State Warriors associate head coach Mike Brown, coaching experience. They have also played so far like they have a point to prove.

 

DONCIC DRAWN INTO GROUP OF DEATH

Second and third pool games against Iran and the Czech Republic respectively should see that there is no jeopardy for the United States early on, but Group C shows how tough this tournament can be.

There will be a rematch of the 2019 World Cup final between Spain and Argentina, while hosts Japan will hope to make some noise. Then there is Slovenia, led of course by Luka Doncic.

One of the most exciting young talents in the world, Doncic has already shown himself capable of dragging a team to against-the-odds victories single-handedly.

The 22-year-old, whose 36.0 per cent usage rate led the NBA this year, was unsurprisingly named the MVP at the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Kaunas just three weeks after forcing the Los Angeles Clippers to go to a Game 7 in the first round of the playoffs.

Doncic has averaged 33.5 points across his 13 career postseason games – all of which have come against the Clippers. No player in NBA history has played 13 playoff games or more and averaged more, with Michael Jordan second on 33.4.

But Doncic has lost both of those series to date and is now faced with some hugely experienced players at this level. Argentina's Luis Scola and Spain's Pau Gasol – who moved to Barcelona specifically to prepare for the Games – are both in their 40s.

Should Doncic guide his country into the knockout stage, though, Team USA would undoubtedly be wary of taking on the two-time All-NBA First Team selection.

USA Basketball (USAB) has confirmed that Saturday's exhibition game between the United States and Australia has been cancelled due to growing COVID-19 fears.

The two sides were due to meet for the second time this week as part of their preparations for the upcoming Tokyo Olympics.

The cancellation comes after USAB confirmed on Thursday that two players had entered health and safety protocols.

Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal had been ruled out of the Olympics after entering protocols, while Jerami Grant was also placed under protocols, as a precautionary measure.

Team USA are still scheduled to play Spain in Las Vegas on Sunday in their final preparation game before flying for Tokyo on Monday.

USA's opening game at the Tokyo Olympics is on July 25 against France, while Australia commence their Games campaign on the same day against Nigeria.

Australia had shocked USA 91-83 on Tuesday, following their upset defeat to Nigeria on Monday.

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.

Mitchell Starc held his nerve at the death to guide Australia to their maiden win of the T20I Series by four runs after the West Indies almost blasted their way to victory from an improbable position on Thursday.

Chasing 189-6, the West Indies needed 57 from 24 balls with five wickets left after Mitch Marsh took two wickets in an over, before fireworks from Fabian Allen (29 from 14) and Andre Russell (22* from 13) turned the game on its head in St Lucia.

The pair combined for four sixes from five balls in the penultimate over from Riley Meredith, needing 11 off the final over but Starc sent down five dot balls to Russell in the last to earn Australia a win which makes the series 3-1.

Australia captain Aaron Finch had won the toss and elected to bat, starting strongly with the skipper making 53 from 37 balls alongside Mitch, who top scored with 75 from 44 deliveries, in a 114-run stand.

The tourists stumbled in the middle order again, losing 40-5 with Hayden Walsh taking three wickets, before some late hitting from Dan Christian and Starc lifted them to a strong total.

The West Indies flew out of the blocks in their pursuit with Lendl Simmons posting 72 from 48 before the outstanding Marsh (24-3) dismissed him, along with Nicholas Pooran in quick succession.

All seemed lost for the hosts at 132-5 but Allen and Russell offered hope, before Starc's clutch final over.

Veteran West Indies batsman Chris Gayle has hailed the influence of team captain Kieran Pollard following a return to form against Australia.

The 42-year-old scored an enterprising 67 from 38 balls as the Windies took an unassailable 3-0 lead in the five-match T20 series.

The half-century would have come as a relief for the under-pressure batsman who had struggled to make an impact since being recalled to the team.  In eight matches, against Sri Lanka, South Africa, and Australia, Gayle has averaged 12.71, with a combined 89 runs, and has a highest score of 31.  In addition, the batsman has a strike rate of 94.68, well below his career average of 139.71.  In fact, the score was the highest for the player since March 2016. 

“It’s good to be among the runs.  Yes, it’s a relief, any batter who hadn’t been among the runs for quite some time now would definitely want to be back among the runs…but it wouldn’t have been possible without my teammates,” Gayle said.

“He told me that he was backing me to go out there and play the cricket that Chris Gayle is accustomed to playing.  So, getting the backing from my teammates, senior guys like Dwayne Bravo as well, Nicholas Pooran. 

“It gave me goosebumps when Pollard was speaking in the dressing room.  Me being a leader and I used to captain Pollard and I tried to help him excel in his career, now’s he’s the captain and for him to stand up and say ‘hey Chris’ and give me a reminder of how good I am.  It’s fantastic.”

Left-arm spinner Akeal Hosein and off-spinner Kevin Sinclair have been named in the match-day squad as replacements for Shimron Hetmyer and Obed McCoy for the fourth and fifth matches of the CG Insurance T20 International (T20I) series against Australia.

Hetmyer and McCoy are both nursing injuries and will be unavailable.

West Indies have already clinched the series following their six-wicket victory on Monday night that came after an 18-run victory last Friday night and an impressive 56-run triumph on Saturday night.

The next two matches will be played under lights at the Daren Sammy Cricket Stadium (DSCG) on Wednesday, July 14 and Friday, July 16 with the first ball at 7:30 pm (6:30 pm Jamaica Time).

“The team has played really well to win the first three matches and the CG Insurance Series – they have played good cricket in every department,” said CWI Chief Selector Roger Harper.

“The aim is to continue to build on the momentum created and strive to win the remaining games. Winning builds confidence from a team perspective and will give the players greater belief in the roles they are playing. So, it is important to keep winning. We took the decision to rest players who have picked up some niggles and give opportunities to other players in the squad.”

This CG Insurance T20I Series forms part of the West Indies T20 World Cup preparation. The defending champions have a total of 15 T20Is to be played across three months in the build-up to the ICC T20 World Cup which is being staged in the United Arab Emirates and Oman from October 17 to November 14.

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

The full squad comprises Kieron Pollard (Captain), Nicholas Pooran (Vice-Captain), Fabian Allen, Dwayne Bravo, Sheldon Cottrell, Akeal Hosein, Andre Fletcher, Chris Gayle, Kevin Sinclair, Evin Lewis, Andre Russell, Lendl Simmons, Oshane Thomas, and Hayden Walsh Jr

Fidel Edwards, Shimron Hetmyer and Obed McCoy are the travelling reserves.

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