West Indies vice-captain Nicholas Pooran hopes to see more batsmen taking responsibility as the team struggles to find its footing at the ICC T20 World Cup.

The defending champions opened the tournament with back-to-back losses against England and South Africa but got on the board after squeezing past Bangladesh by 3 runs in the United Arab Emirates on Friday.

Despite notching the win, the team is yet to put a solid batting performance together after getting very little from the top of the order and with several players yet to hit top form.  Along with Roston Chase, captain Kieron Pollard and the returning Jason Holder, Pooran, who received the man of the match award, was among those managing to make an impact this time around.

Pooran, who entered the line-up uncharacteristically at number 7, made an impactful 40 from 22 balls.

“Me and Polly talked about batsmen taking responsibility and doing what’s necessary for the team.  In the tournament our batting hasn’t clicked yet, so we are chopping and changing,” Pooran said following the match.

“Hopefully guys put their hands up when it’s their day.  Today I felt like it was just one of those days that I needed to put my hand up, especially losing Polly there for a bit, someone had to take the responsibility,” he added.

Prior to that, Pooran had struggled to get runs on the board after scoring 13 runs in the first two games.

West Indies great Michael Holding is hoping Quinton de Kock recognises he made a "silly, dumb mistake" after refusing to take the knee at the T20 World Cup.

South Africa were without talismanic wicketkeeper De Kock for Tuesday's clash with West Indies after he refused to play for "personal reasons".

Cricket South Africa (CSA) later confirmed De Kock was absent for the Group 1 Super 12 match in Dubai due to his refusal of a board directive to take the knee, which has become a gesture of support and unity in the fight against racism.

De Kock issued an emotional statement on Thursday after productive talks with CSA as he promised to take the knee from now on, saying he was "deeply sorry for all the hurt, confusion and anger that I have caused".

Holding, who has regularly spoken about the need to combat racism, expressed his hope that De Kock will learn from the episode and deliver on his promise going forward.

 

"I don't know him well enough to say that what he did he meant," Holding told Stats Perform, when asked about De Kock's initial decision.

"What I am hoping is that he recognises he made a silly, dumb mistake by sticking to his principle of not taking the knee.

"If you believe in a cause, you do what everyone else is doing to support that cause. You don't automatically find your own way to support that cause because then no one will know you support it."

In the wake of George Floyd's death last year, Holding spoke powerfully about combatting racism, and his book Why We Kneel, How We Rise has been nominated for the William Hill Sports Book of the Year 2021 award.

"The worldwide accepted gesture for supporting Black Lives Matter and believing everyone's life is equal is to take the knee," Holding said.

"You don't say, I'm not going to do what everybody else in the world recognises as the way forward, that's not the way it works.

"You do what is accepted as the norm, the way that everyone has seen as the gesture to support the movement and that's all I'll say on the matter.

"If he can't understand that then I can't help him understand but one would hope, as I say, he just made a silly mistake and he now understands the reason behind it – if not, then I'll send him a copy of my book!"

It remains unclear whether De Kock will return to the Proteas side, who face Sri Lanka in their next group game on Saturday.

Asif Ali produced an inspired cameo as Pakistan defeated Afghanistan by five wickets to maintain their 100 per cent record at the T20 World Cup.

Pakistan left it late in the Group 2 clash in Dubai as they chased their opponents' total of 147-6.

Skipper Mohammad Nabi and Gulbadin Naib led the way with 35 each for Afghanistan, who aimed to build on their thumping 130-run win over Scotland on Monday.

The in-form Mohammad Shahzad went for just eight and missed the opportunity to become the first Afghan to reach 2,000 men's T20I runs.

Mohammad Rizwan's eight runs were enough to take him beyond 1,000 in T20 internationals since the start of 2020, however, he fell to Mujeeb Ur Rahman, who claimed another wicket after taking five against the Scots.

Captain Babar Azam top-scored with 51 but paid the price for a questionable shot choice as he was bowled by Rashid Khan and Pakistan headed into the penultimate over requiring 24.

Step forward Asif, who produced four thumping sixes from six balls to make it three wins out of three for Pakistan.


Asif delivers again

Afghanistan appeared to be gaining the upper hand when Babar and Shoaib Malik were dismissed within five balls of each other at the end of the 18th over.

But the whole complexion of the contest turned on its head with Asif on strike.

The all-rounder hit 25 from just seven balls and farmed the strike to magnificent effect, producing another devastating display of power after his 12-ball 27 against New Zealand.


Bittersweet for Rashid

After dismissing Babar and Mohammad Hafeez, Rashid took his T20I wicket tally to 101.

He became the fourth player to reach 100 T20I wickets after Lasith Malinga, Shakib Al Hasan and Tim Southee.

Nevertheless, his efforts were not quite enough to give his nation a second successive win.

Jason Holder is hopeful West Indies can reproduce the jubilation he felt during the winning moment against Bangladesh in their final two T20 World Cup Super 12 games.

The Windies prevailed to keep their hopes of reaching the semi-finals alive as they successfully defended 142-7, a total they reached in an innings that saw captain Kieron Pollard retire in the 13th over only to return for the final five balls.

Holder, drafted into the squad as a replacement for the injured Obed McCoy, came straight into the side and the former captain delivered critical runs at the death, hitting two sixes in an unbeaten 15, and claiming (1-22) with the ball.

It was Andre Russell who delivered the winning moment, however, his superb yorker ensuring Mahmudullah could not get the four runs needed off the final ball to lead Bangladesh to victory.

"The last ball that Russell bowled. Obviously, four runs, one ball to bowl the perfect yorker, which was a dot ball, was phenomenal," Holder said afterwards. 

"A lot of jubilation went through my veins especially, and then all the guys obviously played really well.

"So, yeah, that moment was the best moment for me. Let's hope the next two games we can feel similarly."

Having suffered defeats to England and South Africa, West Indies will need to win each of their last two matches to stand a chance of progressing to the last four. With three defeats from three, Bangladesh's hopes are essentially over.

Pollard delivers... eventually 

The 13th over appeared to be one that could potentially end West Indies' prospects of progression as Pollard retired and Russell was run out from the next delivery, leaving the Windies 62-4.

Nicholas Pooran (40) and Roston Chase (39) recovered the situation but, after they each fell in the 19th over and Dwayne Bravo was dismissed to start the last, Pollard returned to partner Holder and followed successive maximums from the ex-skipper with one of his own off the final ball to push the Windies to what proved a match-winning score.

Bangladesh's still waiting for semi-final berth

Mahmudullah (31 not out) did his best to get Bangladesh over the line, but his side are left with only pride to play for in the final two games. Bangladesh have still yet to reach the last four of this tournament.

"Definitely we'll play for our pride," Mahmudullah said. 

"We've been trying hard and hard to get a win. Two more games to go. We'll put our everything definitely to win these last two games."

Despite scoring an unbeaten century for Team Blackwood on day two of the BestvBest match at the Coolidge Cricket Ground in Antigua on Thursday, Nkrumah Bonner said spending time at the crease was more important to him as he prepares for the West Indies’ upcoming tour to Sri Lanka later this year.

West Indies batsman, Nicholas Pooran, is adamant that the team completely trusts captain Kieron Pollard and backs him to make the correct decisions in a crucial World Cup clash against Bangladesh on Friday.

The defending champions are off to a poor start to the tournament after facing crushing losses at the hands of England and South Africa.  With only two teams advancing to the semi-finals from the group a loss against Bangladesh would officially eliminate the struggling West Indies from contention.

Outside of the poor form of several batsmen, the team’s leadership and decision-making have also come under the spotlight in recent days.  Both captain Pollard and coach Phil Simmons have faced scrutiny after a batting line-up change against South Africa, in the second match, backfired and seemed to be far more disruptive than beneficial.

Inside the dressing room, however, Pooran, the vice-captain, insists there are no doubts regarding decisions taken by the team’s leader.

"We have a wonderful captain. He knows what he's doing," said Pooran told members of the media in a pre-match press conference.

"Whatever he says goes, and we back him to make some really good decisions for us tomorrow to be successful,” he added.

Pooran is one of a handful of West Indies impact players who have struggled to find form, managing just 13 runs in the two matches so far.

David Warner returned to form with a blistering half-century after Adam Zampa put Sri Lanka in a spin as Australia cruised to a seven-wicket T20 World Cup win.

Warner's place in the side had been called into question due to a lack of runs, but the opener silenced his critics a day after his 35th birthday as Australia made it two wins out two in the Super 12 stage.

Sri Lanka posted 154-6 after Aaron Finch won the toss and opted to field at Dubai International Stadium on Thursday, Kusal Perera and Charith Asalanka making 35 apiece before Bhanuka Rajapaksa added an unbeaten 33.

Spinner Zampa flummoxed the Sri Lanka batters, taking 2-12 from his four overs, while Mitchell Starc (2-27) and Pat Cummins (2-34) also did damage.

Josh Hazlewood played a big part with the ball once again without reward and Australia made light work of chasing down their target.

Warner was dropped on 18 but made 65 from 42 balls, and he and captain Finch (37 from 23) laid the platform with an explosive opening stand of 70 from only 6.5 overs.

Wanindu Hasaranga took 2-22, but Australia eased to their target with three overs to spare to join leaders England on four points in Group 1, Steve Smith making 28 not out and Marcus Stoinis unbeaten on 16.

 Zampa bamboozles Sri Lanka after promising start

Sri Lanka were going along nicely at 53-1 at the end of the powerplay, but they lost their way after the excellent Zampa had Asalanka caught on the sweep by Smith.

The guile of Zampa also saw the back of Avishka Fernando after Starc cleaned up Kusal with a searing yorker, as Sri Lanka lost four wickets for 16 runs.

Rajapaksa added some much-needed late runs, with Stoinis expensive, but Australia were left with a smaller chase than they might have been expecting.

 

Warner grateful for late Kusal gift

Warner had been dropped by Sunrisers Hyderabad in the Indian Premier League and came into this game having scored only 17 runs in his previous five innings.

His frustrating spell would have continued if Kusal had not put down a simple catch behind the stumps and the powerful left-hander made him pay, hitting 10 fours to set his side well on their way to victory.

Finch was also due some runs and looked in ominous touch – bad news for Australia's rivals – as he cleared the rope twice before playing on to Hasaranga.

West Indies batting great Brian Lara does not believe it would be a good idea to drop an out of form Chris Gayle at this point, despite the player’s struggles at the T20 World Cup thus far.

The 42-year-old batsman has faced heavy scrutiny in recent weeks and has managed just a total of 25 runs in two heavy losses for the Windies at the tournament so far.  The storm of criticism surrounding the batsman, however, extends beyond that.

Heading into the tournament, Gayle had struggled to look like anything close to the player who has scored over 14,000 runs in T20 cricket.  In the last 16 matches, the batsman has averaged 15.93 and scored 239 runs with a strike rate of 13.80, well below his career average of 138.46.

Despite that, however, Lara, considered one of the game’s greatest ever batsmen, believes the player could still have a role to play in the team and should remain a part of the line-up at this point in time.

 "Chris Gayle is already in the World Cup and his experience and the fact that he can pass on something to the younger players is key,” Lara said recently on Star Sports.

"I personally believe that Chris Gayle has to be given a proper send-off. This, I think, is his last tournament. Dismissing Chris Gayle at this stage of the tournament, I am not sure it's the right thing. I would like to see some sort of nice approach for the rest of the tournament. I think he can still make an impression on the younger players even if he doesn't score," he added.

Cricket West Indies (CWI) has congratulated West Indies cricket legends on recently being awarded honorary doctorates from the University of the West Indies (UWI).

Nkrumah Bonner scored an unbeaten 90 as Team (Jermaine) Blackwood reached 234-4 at the end of day one of the BestvBest match against Team Brathwaite at the Coolidge Cricket Ground in Antigua on Wednesday.

Former West Indies fast bowler Andy Roberts insists that based on his strengths and weakness, under pressure batsman Chris Gayle should not be picked for the team if batting below position number three.

The 42-year-old has typically opened for the Caribbean team but has featured at the number 3 position in the last couple of years.  Against South Africa, Gayle batted even further down the order after coming in at 4.  Overall, batting down the order has failed to really bear fruit for the batsman, in West Indies colours, to date.  Gayle had an impressive showing batting at number during the 2020 Indian Premier League (IPL) campaign for Punjab Kings XI but has not managed to replicate that kind of form this season or for the regional team.

In 17 matches batting at the number three position or below, for the West Indies, Gayle has managed a total of 239 runs, at an average of 15.93 and a strike rate of 113.80.  He has a high score of 67 runs.  At the World Cup, having played against England and South Africa so far, Gayle has scored 13 runs from 13 balls, against England, and 12 runs from 12 balls against South Africa.

“If Chris is going to bat below number three then he has no right to be in the team,” Roberts told the Mason and Guest radio show.

“What is he going to do when you need to rotate the strike more as the overs keep going.  Chris’s strong point is batting at the top of the order where he can set the pace by playing his natural game, which is hitting straight.

“If you watch the last few games that he played he tends to use up a lot of dot balls, and not just in the World Cup, that dates back a while.  He takes his time now to try and get in, instead of before from ball one, ball two, you would have to put the field back because he is timing the ball so well.  (Currently) He is struggling for timing.”

Quinton De Kock has apologised to his South Africa team-mates for refusing to take the knee and says he will now make the anti-racism gesture ahead of future matches.

South Africa were without their talismanic wicketkeeper-batsman for Tuesday's T20 World Cup opener with West Indies after he pulled out for "personal reasons".

That came after Cricket South Africa (CSA) agreed all Proteas should take the knee before their remaining World Cup games, as a consistent and united stance against racism.

CSA later confirmed De Kock was absent for the Group 1 match at Dubai International Stadium because of his refusal to follow the directive.

South Africa captain Bavuma said he was "taken aback" by De Kock's stance.

But De Kock has now attempted to resolve the row by releasing a wide-ranging statement following "emotional" talks with the CSA board on Wednesday.

"I would like to start by saying sorry to my team-mates, and the fans back home," the statement, released via CSA on Thursday, read.

"I never ever wanted to make this a Quinton issue. I understand the importance of standing against racism and the responsibility of us as players to set an example. 

"If me taking a knee helps to educate others, and makes the lives of others better, I am more than happy to do so. I did not, in any way, mean to disrespect anyone by not playing against West Indies, especially the West Indian team themselves. 

"Maybe some people don't understand that we were just hit with this on Tuesday morning, on the way to a game. I am deeply sorry for all the hurt, confusion and anger that I have caused."

De Kock has previously been quiet on his decision to not show support for the anti-racism gesture, but he has now explained his reasons why.
 
"For those who don't know, I come from a mixed race family. My half-sisters are coloured and my step mom is black," he said.

"For me, Black lives have mattered since I was born. Not just because there was an international movement. 

"The rights and equality of all people is more important than any individual. I was raised to understand that we all have rights, and they are important. 

"I felt like my rights were taken away when I was told what we had to do in the way that we were told. 

"Since our chat with the board last night, which was very emotional, I think we all have a better understanding of their intentions as well."

He added: "I wish this had happened sooner, because what happened on match day could have been avoided. I know I have an example to set. We were previously told we had the choice to do what we felt we wanted to do.

"I chose to keep my thoughts to myself, and thought of the pride of playing for my family and my country. I didn't understand why I had to prove it with a gesture, when I live and learn and love people from all walks of life every day. 

"When you are told what to do, with no discussion, I felt like it takes away the meaning. If I was racist, I could easily have taken the knee and lied, which is wrong and doesn’t build a better society.  

"Those who have grown up with me and played with me, know what type of person I am. I've been called a lot of things as a cricketer. Doff. Stupid. Selfish. Immature. But those didn't hurt.

"Being called a racist because of a misunderstanding hurts me deeply. It hurts my family. It hurts my pregnant wife. I am not a racist. In my heart of hearts, I know that. And I think those who know me know that. 

"I know I'm not great with words, but I've tried my best to explain how truly sorry I am for making like this is about me. It is not.

"I won't lie, I was shocked that we were told on the way to an important match that there was an instruction that we had to follow, with a perceived 'or else'. 

"I don't think I was the only one. We had camps. We had sessions. We had Zoom meetings. We know where we all stand. And that is together. 

"I love every one of my team-mates, and I love nothing more than playing cricket for South Africa. I think it would have been better for everyone concerned if we had sorted this out before the tournament started.

"Then we could have focused on our job, to win cricket matches for our country. There always seems to be a drama when we go to World Cups. That isn't fair."

De Kock concluded his statement by praising the leadership of Bavuma, who is South Africa's first permanent black captain.

"I just want to thank my team-mates for their support, especially my captain, Temba," he said. "People might not recognise, but he is a flipping amazing leader. 

"If he and the team, and South Africa, will have me, I would love nothing more than to play cricket for my country again."

Legendary West Indies captain Clive Lloyd has questioned the team’s level of planning, particularly when it comes to its batting line-up on the back of two dismal performances to start the T20 World Cup.

The defending champions have been handed back-to-back losses at the hand of England and then South Africa.  Both losses were underpinned by underwhelming performances at the crease, which first saw the West Indies dismissed for 55 and then in the second match collapsed to 143 for 8 all-out after a promising start at 73 for 1.

Following its substandard showing against England, the team tinkered with its batting line-up promoting Nicholas Pooran up the order while pushing Chris Gayle and Shimron Hetmyer further down.

“I think the planning season to be all over the place,” Lloyd said in assessing the team’s performances thus far, on the Mason and Guest radio program.

“I think if you look at what has happened.  Fifty-five runs, we are much better than that.  Our planning seems to be terrible. (Against South Africa) We had a wonderful start, and we didn’t promote people in the proper order,” he added.

“You expect the captain to come up when you are going at 9 an over, to continue, but you send Pooran who hasn’t been batting well and you have Hetmyer who has been batting well and making very good scores.  So, the batting order seems to be all over the place.”

Lloyd believes that for the team to be successful someone has to take control of the batting order.

“At one stage the prediction was 174 and we were down to so, but somewhere along the line, we feel like this game is about hitting sixes.  We are getting caught on the boundary, it’s a big ground.  If I’m at 58, I’m looking to get to 80 or 90, get more runs and take the game away from the opposition.”

Former West Indies captain has been included in the West Indies T20 World Cup squad as a replacement for injured left-arm fast bowler Obed McCoy.

Namibia made a winning start to their T20 World Cup Super 12 campaign with a four-wicket victory over Scotland at Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi.

Scotland were bowled out for just 60 in their heavy loss to Afghanistan in their first Group 2 match but they at least got over the 100 mark on this occasion as they set Namibia a target of 110.

After losing George Munsey to the very first ball, Calum MacLeod and Richie Berrington followed soon after to the bowling of Ruben Trumpelmann without adding any runs to Scotland's tally.

With wickets falling fast, Michael Leask at least gave Scotland something to bat for with 44 runs off 27 balls as they reached 109-8.

Michael van Lingen made a positive start to Namibia's innings with 18 runs before being bowled out by Safyaan Sharif – making his 50th T20I appearance for Scotland – and Zane Green (9) was not far behind.

Craig Williams (23) and David Wiese (16) piled on further scores and, while Scotland did manage to take the game to the final over, JJ Smit (32 not out) got Namibia over the line with five balls to spare.

Namibia play their trump card

The writing was on the wall for Scotland when they lost three wickets for two runs in the first over, with player of the match Trumpelmann responsible for each of those.

He finished with 3-17 and watched on as his team-mates batted to victory with four wickets left to play with.

A new Leask of life

Scotland had just a glimmer of hope as a couple of Namibia wickets fell towards the end, but even that glimpse of a win would never have been possible if not for the earlier batting of Leask.

His stint was ended by Smit, who perhaps appropriately went on to seal the victory for Namibia with a six over point as the African minnows reached 115-6.

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