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.

The fourth match of the Hero CPL Esports series saw Nicholas Pooran of the Guyana Amazon Warriors take on Mitchell Santner of the Barbados Tridents at a virtual Kensington Oval. It was the Warriors who emerged victorious after a brutal display with the bat and superb bowling from their spinners.

The Tridents won the toss and elected to bowl first with Pooran promoting himself up the order to open. It was a move that worked out immediately with 30 runs coming off the first over, 24 of them made by Pooran.

The early loss of Brandon King did not slow the Warriors down with Shimron Hetmyer joining Pooran in smashed the Tridents bowling around the Oval, although a good few of the boundaries came via the edge of the bat.

Pooran brought up his fifty from just 10 balls on his way to 63 (13) to set up a total of 133/4 from their five overs. Although Pooran was the star, he was well supported, first by Hetmyer and then by Ross Taylor.

It was a daunting target, and the Tridents were under pressure to get off to a good start. They got just that thanks to Johnson Charles who made 29 (8) but his departure brought with it a collapse with three wickets falling with the score on 43. That became 53-5 with three wickets in an over from Imran Tahir.

The Tridents never recovered from that cluster of wickets and as they searched for boundaries to get themselves back into the game the wickets continued to fall, with three more going to the spin of Chandrapaul Hemraj. The Tridents went from 43-1 to 73 all out as the Warriors won by a massive 60 runs.

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.”

Chris Gayle and Fidel Edwards have been recalled to the West Indies squad for next month’s T20 Internationals against Sri Lanka.

Evin Lewis’ better than a run-a-ball century helped the Trinidad and Tobago Red Force romp to a five-wicket victory with 55 balls to spare over the Jamaica Scorpions at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium today.

West Indies batsmen Rovman Powell and Lendl Simmons remained unbeaten to steer the Northern Warriors to an eight-wicket win over the Dehli Bulls, to claim the Abu Dhabi T10 title, on Saturday.

After winning the toss, the Warriors restricted the Bulls to 81 for 9 in 10 overs.  Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Evin Lewis got things off to a flier, after scoring 16 runs off the first over.  The innings soon lost momentum after Gurbaz’s mistimed shot was taken at cover and Lewis was gobbled up by Powell.  In the end, Mohammad Nabi top-scored with a 10-ball 21 for the Bulls.  Maheesh Theekshana starred with the ball for the Warriors after claiming 3 for 14.

In pursuit of a gettable target, Warriors skipper and in-form batsman Nicholas Pooran took responsibility by promoting himself up the order.  He was, however, dismissed lbw by Fidel Edwards on 12.  Simmons and Waseem Muhammad, however, kept the scoreboard ticking over.  Opener Muhammad scored 27 off 22 but was dismissed before Powell (16 from 8) and Simmons (14 from 12) finished the proceedings.

Powell hit the winning runs with a huge six with 10 balls left.  Theekshana received the Man of the Match award while Pooran was named Man of the Series.  Northern Warriors are the first team to win the trophy twice.

 

 

On many a Sunday, I realize that people have looked at the stories they've seen throughout the week with different lenses. I have my own personal take on some of these trending issues and I will share them with you. Welcome to #INCASEYOUMISSEDIT the 2021 edition with Mariah

 

  1. Tough task ahead for Thomas Tuchel

Chelsea have given their new manager Thomas Tuchel 18 months to reverse the club’s fortunes after sacking Frank Lampard. Tuchel’s first match in charge ended in a 0-0 home draw with Wolves on Wednesday, a clear sign that the task ahead is not an easy one.  The big question looming is how can he avoid the same fate as Lampard? 

The 42-year-old German is more experienced than his predecessor having had spells at Mainz and Borussia Dortmund as well as two and a half years at PSG in France, leading them to back-to-back French league titles.

He also led the French champions to the 2019/20 Champions League final.

Winning cup competitions and making the top-four in the EPL would help him keep his job at the end of the season but going forward that will not be enough for team owner Roman Abramovich.

Notwithstanding his proven coaching acumen, Tuchel has developed somewhat of a reputation of getting into power struggles with club hierarchies. He was fired by Dortmund after falling out with officials there, similar to his exit from PSG. He would be advised to stay in Abramovich’s good books.

He would also do well to capitalize on his relationships with Thiago Silva who he coached at PSG and Christian Pulisic from Dortmund.

 The task at hand is not impossible and Tuchel seems ready to take on his latest project.

“I decided not to worry about that too much and to go to do it, to be brave enough to take this adventure. It’s my character to believe more in the chances than in the risks,” he said.

 

  1. Windies stars continue to shine in Abu Dhabi T10

The ICC T20 World Cup set for October in India is still some time away but the excitement in the Abu Dhabi T10 has reignited the hope that West Indies just might have a chance. The first week of the Abu Dhabi T10 was filled with brilliant performances both with bat and ball from notable Windies players.

Several Windies players have found form early in the tournament. The Northern Warriors’ Lendl Simmons blasted an unbeaten 54 in his first match. Evin Lewis also started off with a bang having scored 100 runs in three matches that included a top score of 55. He was also not out twice and is the third-highest run-scorer for this 2021 edition.

Nicholas Pooran has also been brilliant with the bat. After two matches he has 73 runs with a high score of 54. The Pune Devils Kennar Lewis in his first match scored a 28-ball 57 not out to lead his team to victory.

There have also been noteworthy performances with the ball as the Northern Warriors’ Rayad Emrit is ranked fifth for most wickets in the tournament. He has bowled 4 overs for 46 runs and taken three wickets. His teammate Fabian Allen has bowled two overs for 11 runs and taken two wickets. Deccan Gladiators Sunil Narine has grabbed two wickets from his two overs.

 

 

Shimron Hetmyer, Dwayne Bravo and Andre Russell were among West Indies players were retained by their Indian Premier League franchises on Wednesday. However, several others were cut loose and will re-enter the pool of players eligible for the IPL Draft coming up on February 11.

With 13584 runs, 22 centuries and 85 50s under his belt Christopher Henry Gayle is arguably the greatest T20 batsman in history.

Nicholas Pooran believes the West Indies’ low ranking in T20 cricket is due mainly to the fact that it hasn’t been able to put its best players on the field of play often enough.

The West Indies are currently ranked 10th in the ICC T20 rankings despite having some of the best players in the world in their talent pool. However, Pooran anticipates that the team could show its full potential at the next world cup.

“I just believe that most of the series West Indies play, they don't play with their strongest team. And by strongest I mean Chris Gayle, Pollard, Russell, Narine, Bravo in the team together,” the talented Trinidadian said in a recent interview with ESPNCricinfo.

“In the last couple of years, we haven't witnessed these players together. Either most of them weren't selected, some were unavailable ... but definitely a case around that.

“We couldn't play as a team after the last T20 World Cup. This, I am saying from a player's and a fan's point of view. Not seeing some of my favourite players represent West Indies might be one of the reasons.”

Notwithstanding the disappointment that comes with that reality, Pooran said he is looking forward to the coming T20 World Cup where he expects to be a better player holding his own amongst the best players from the region.

“Personally, I am looking forward to the T20 World Cup. As a team, our strength is T20s. For the last couple of years, we've been doing good in World Cups, but as a team where we are ranked [10th], it doesn't show how good our team actually is,” he said, indicating that believes that situation could change in the near future.

“Most of the senior guys are coming back to the West Indies team ... like Kieron Pollard, Dwayne Bravo, Andre Russell and Sunil Narine are all coming back eventually.

“As a player, I am especially excited because I want to do good for the West Indies people and put a smile on their faces. My record for West Indies in T20s isn't that good and I want to improve that for the next couple of months.”

 

 

Let’s face it. Melbourne Stars batsman Andre Fletcher has not set the Big Bash League alight with his batting. The Grenadian batsman, who has been opening for the Stars, has a top score of 18 in seven outings. And, after scores of 10, 10, 18, 4, 6, 12 and 12, few would argue with the growing consensus that he should be to be dropped.

However, he showed on Sunday - with two spectacular catches against the Hobart Hurricanes - that his value extends well beyond his batting skills, as he twice helped swing the match in favour of the Stars, who eked out a close 10-run victory.

Fletcher made 10 of the Melbourne Stars’ 183 for 6 from their 20 overs, thanks mainly to Marcus Stoinis’ unbeaten 55-ball 97 that included seven fours and seven sixes; 36 from Hilton Cartwright and 26 from the in-form Nicholas Pooran.

Riley Meredith, who had Fletcher caught behind after his four-ball stay at the crease ended with 2 for 25 but it was Nathan Ellis, who dismissed Cartwright and Pooran, who was the Hurricanes’ best bowler with 3 for 31.

Daunting as the target might have seemed, Ben McDermott seemed headed to make light work of it with a blazing knock of 91 off just 58 balls and included eight fours and five sixes. It was while going for his sixth six that Fletcher intervened, changing the direction of the match in the process.

On the last ball of the 19th over, Liam Hatcher (1 for 45) served up a thigh-high full toss wide outside off McDermott, who flayed it flat over extra cover. Fletcher, known as the Spiceman, raced close to 10m to his left before taking off like Superman to hold on to a spectacular catch to have the Hurricanes at 163 for 5.

Fletcher’s blinder was his second of the match.

At the fall of the Hurricanes’ second wicket, that of Dawid Malan for 26 with the score 89, Colin Ingram and McDermott flayed the Stars’ bowling to all parts putting together a 50-run stand in just 22 balls.

It was a partnership that was threatening to take the match away from the visitors when in the 17th over, Billy Stanlake (1 for 41) bowled one full and wide. Ingram sliced it in the air over extra cover. Fletcher charged in, misread the flight of the ball and then adjusted as the ball began to tail away towards the boundary rope.

At the last minute, Fletcher dove to his right and snatched the ball inches off the ground before breaking out into a celebratory dance.

It was then 139 for 3, with the Hurricanes still in the hunt until Fletcher struck out in the field once more.

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