India have taken a 1-0 T20I series lead over the West Indies after a six-wicket victory in Wednesday's first test in Kolkata.

It was not always plain sailing for India, but in the end they closed out a comfortable victory that owed much to captain Rohit Sharma, debutant Ravi Bishnoi and Suryakumar Yadav.

West Indies had earlier reached 157-7 over their 20 overs, an innings that began poorly as Brandon King fell for just four to Bhuvneshwar Kumar (1-31) in the first over – though Kyle Mayers (31) and Nicholas Pooran (61) soon found the tourists some momentum.

After their respective wickets, West Indies really struggled to build up a head of steam again. Bishnoi (2-17) claimed the scalps of Roston Chase (four) and Rovman Powell (two) as the 21-year-old enjoyed a miserly outing on his debut.

Kieron Pollard (24 not out) at least restored a little dignity, but he had little help around him, thus setting India a reachable target.

Rohit's 40 off 19 gave India the start they needed, and Ishan Kishan (35 off 42) proved a solid – if pragmatic – partner until both were undone by Chase's (2-14) bowling.

Fabian Allen (1-23) and Sheldon Cottrell (1-35) then saw to Virat Kohli (17) and Rishabh Pant (eight), respectively, with both batsmen feeling somewhat aggrieved by the decisions.

But any suggestion of West Indies still having a chance were emphatically washed away by Suryakumar (34 not out) and Venkatesh Iyer (24 not out), who eased the hosts over the line at 162-4 with seven balls to spare.

Bishnoi makes his mark

Bishnoi initially looked nervous, throwing three wides in his first over. But he quickly adjusted his focus, posting impressive numbers as he dismissed Chase and Powell.

Speaking afterwards, he said: "The nerves are settled now. I was feeling very good, it's everyone's dream to play for India and I was feeling good. West Indies is one of the best T20 teams and I got the chance to play against them. I'll try to cut down on the wides in the next match!"

Pooran's efforts in vain

Were it not for Pooran's efforts, this would have been an even worse start to the three-match series for the Windies. His 61 with the bat was undoubtedly the highlight of their innings, with Pollard very aware that his side were otherwise disappointing.

Pollard said: "Getting down to the 19th over was good on the part of the bowlers. If I'm being honest, between overs six to 15 we scored too few runs. We were 15-20 runs short."

Middle-order batsman Yannic Cariah and opener Jeremy Solozano were critical in a recovery effort for the T&T Red Force who ended day one of the West Indies Championship match against the Windward Island Volcanoes, at the Brian Lara Stadium, on a promising 217 for 5.

At the close of play, Joshua Da Silva (51) and Terrance Hinds (5) were the not out batsmen at the crease. Hinds came in to bat after team captain Imran Khan retired hurt, after scoring one run, with what looked like a pulled muscle.

Earlier, it was Cariah who yet again anchored another Red Force recovery.  The team found themselves in early trouble following the dismissals of opener Keagan Simmons (8), Isaiah Rajah (0), and Jason Mohammed (0), which left them struggling at 22 for 3.  All three batsmen were sent packing on the back of a brilliant spell from fast bowler Sherman Lewis who ended the day with 3 for 24.

With the team in desperate need, Cariah joined Solozano, who had watched the early carnage from the other end, and the two proceeded to rescue the innings with a patient 112-run stand for the fourth wicket.  The partnership was broken when Solozano was caught, on 66, by Teddy Bishop, after attacking Kenneth Dember.

Cariah then joined up with Da Silva to stage a 59-run partnership before he was trapped lbw by Ryan John.

 

Two three-wicket hauls from Leeward Hurricane bowlers Daniel Doram and Colin Archibald devastated the Guyana Harpy Eagles batting line-up, to claim a strong position on the opening day of the West Indies Championship at Queens Park Oval.

At the close of play, in response to the Eagles being all out for 116, in 34.3 overs, the Leewards were 126 without loss and already leading by 10 runs.  Openers Kieran Powell (55) and Montcin Hodge (51) had each put half-centuries on the board to give the team a solid base heading into the second day.

Earlier, only four Guyana players managed double figures, Anthony Bramble (38), Keemo Paul (20), Clinton Pestano (14), and Veerasammy Permaul (11) in an innings that feature the rapid capitulation of the Eagles batting line-up.  Before Bramble, Guyana's first five batsmen managed a total of 24 runs combined, leaving the team in serious trouble at 37 for 5.

A partnership between Bramble and Keemo Paul, who combined for 50 was the highlight of the innings and briefly added respite.  Paul made 20 from 17 deliveries.

Doram ended the innings with figures of 3 for 16, Archibald 3 for 29, while Alzarri Joseph also claimed two wickets for 26 runs.

 

Rohit Sharma declared "experimentation is overrated" ahead of India's three-match T20 International series against West Indies.

With another T20 World Cup on the horizon in Australia this year, India and the Windies are determined to show what they are capable of after failing in the 2021 tournament.

Rohit led India to a 3-0 ODI clean sweep of West Indies this month and their expectant supporters will be demanding another whitewash.

India have won eight of their past nine matches against the Windies in the shortest format heading into the series-opener at Eden Gardens on Wednesday.

Washington Sundar and KL Rahul miss out due to hamstring injuries, while Axar Patel will not feature in the series as he is in the final stage of his rehabilitation after recently recovering from coronavirus.

Skipper Rohit is no mood to experiment as he looks to continue the white-ball momentum.

He said: "I feel the word experimentation is overrated, in my terms. We are trying to find those holes that are there in the squad and try and fill that gap. So whatever it takes, we will try and do that.

"All these guys [the fringe players] are very young and haven't played a lot of cricket. We need to give them the assurity and the game time.

"Once we have that, then we can try out things. Until then, whatever little holes we have in our squad, we have to try and fill that."

The Windies were outplayed in the 50-over format, but beat England 3-2 in a thrilling T20I series on home soil last month and named an unchanged squad to face India.

 

Rohit backs Kohli 

It is over two years since Virat Kohli score an international hundred, but Rohit says the former captain should not be questioned. 

The opener said: "If you guys [the media] can keep quiet for a while, I think he'll be alright. We don't need to do too much talking from your side, then everything will be taken care of. He is in a great mental space from whatever I see of him.

"He has been part of this international team for more than a decade. If someone has spent that much time in international cricket, they know how to handle the pressure situations, the environment, everything. It all starts from you guys. If you guys can keep it quiet for a bit, then everything will fall into place."

Pollard fit to lead tourists

Kieron Pollard was an injury doubt after suffering a niggle in the ODI series, but the captain confirmed he will be fit for the start of this series.

Pollard will be hoping former skipper Jason Holder can conjure up more heroics after his stunning exploits with the ball in the decider against England in Barbados last month.

The all-rounder took four wickets in as many balls in the final over to finish with figure of 5-27.

West Indies captain Kieron Pollard insists the team is nowhere close to being ready to give up on talented batsman Shimron Hetmyer, despite the player’s recently well-documented struggles with fitness.

The 25-year-old batsman was left out of the West Indies' previous series against Ireland and England and also failed to be included in the squad for the ongoing India tour.  The issue stemmed from the fact that the player failed to achieve the basic fitness standards required to be eligible for selection.

It was not the first time Hetmyer had been plagued by the issue as he also failed to get a passing mark in 2020, ahead of the team’s tour of Sri Lanka, and then again later that same year during Sri Lanka’s tour of the West Indies.  The Windies skipper, however, backs the player to get things right in the near future.

"I think the coaches have spoken on their assessment of Shimron. I miss Shimron when he is not around. He is a young player and a superstar in his own right. He will get it right and get back to the West Indies squad pretty soon. I will be looking forward to having him," Pollard told members of the media, ahead of the team’s first T20I against India.

"We know what he can do as an individual and he has a bright future. You can never write off a guy who is 25. My love for Shimron is paramount, and he knows that and we all know that. It is a matter of time for him to do all that is necessary to get back to the team. We will welcome him with open arms."

Stuart Broad has hit out at his omission from England's squad for the upcoming Test series against the West Indies, from which James Anderson is also absent.

England's all-time leading Test wicket-takers Broad and Anderson have been left out of the squad for next month's tour after a dismal Ashes series led to the departure of head coach Chris Silverwood.

Interim managing director of cricket Andrew Strauss, interim coach Paul Collingwood, and head scout James Taylor made up a three-man selection committee ahead of the series, which begins in Antigua on March 8, and have settled on a 16-man squad that does not include either of the seamers.

Despite Strauss contending that there was a way back for both bowlers, who have taken 1,177 Test wickets between them, Broad has used his newspaper column to hit out at the decision.

"I have to confess that I wasn't expecting the phone call I received from Andrew Strauss on Tuesday that started with him saying: 'I've got some bad news'," Broad wrote in the Daily Mail.

"I am waking up more confused and angrier with each passing day. I feel gutted. 

"Do I need to prove myself again? In my mind, I've nothing to prove. I am a proven performer, so it is now about the English cricketing summer and targeting the home series against New Zealand in June."

 

The 35-year-old pace bowler, whose tally of 73 career Test wickets against the West Indies is only beaten by Anderson's 87 amongst active players, also moved to defend his recent England performances and denied that any behind-the-scenes unrest had contributed to the decision.

"I could take being dropped if I had let my standards slip but being overlooked when they haven't is another thing," Broad's column continued.

"I am struggling to put things into context. It's hard to do so when all you've had is a five-minute phone call.

"If I had spoken to one person who had said they agreed with the decision to leave myself and Jimmy out, I could perhaps begin to understand. 

"Do I believe I warrant a place in England's best team? Of course, I do.

"People will ask if there has therefore been some fall-out behind the scenes, a bit of a rumble during the Ashes, but I can categorically say that is not the case. Hence, neither Jimmy nor I saw this coming. We were blindsided."

England's last series win in the West Indies came back in 2003-04.

Vishaul Singh fell just short of a 9th first-class 100 but led a brilliant Guyana Harpy Eagles fightback, which left the game against the Windward Volcanoes very much in the balance heading into Saturday's final day.

At the close of play, the Windwards batting a second time were 157 for 7 with Larry Edward (29) and Kenneth Dember (9) the batsmen at the crease.  Asked to bat again, the Windwards found the going hard early on as the typically dependable Devon Smith was dismissed for a duck in the first over, bowled by Nial Smith.  They lost Teddy Bishop (15), the team’s other opener, soon after, to leave the score at 20 for 2. 

Alrick Athanaze maintained his good form for the match after first hunkering down at the crease with Kavem Hodge to briefly stop the rot.  Hodge was, however, uprooted when he was dismissed lbw off the bowling of Keemo Paul for 15.  Keron Cottoy added 12 before being dismissed by Clinton Pestano and Denis Smith added just four runs before departing two overs later with the score at 77 for 5, after also falling victim to Pestano.

Veerasammy Permaul delivered the crucial wicket of Athanaze, who made 58, in the 29th over with the team struggling at 125 for 7.  Paul, Permaul, and Pestano have so far taken two wickets each with Smith claiming one.

Earlier, resuming the day at 181 – 5, still trailing the Winwards first innings tally of 339 by 155 runs, Singh held the Harpy Eagles innings together along with Paul as the pair put on a solid 146 for the 6th wicket to change the complexion of the match.  Paul was eventually dismissed, after putting 77 on the board, when he was trapped lbw by Kenneth Dember. Singh departed two overs later, just seven runs short of a century when he was stumped by Smith off Dember.  With the score then at 290 for 7, the team added another 37 runs to move to within 12 of the total.

West Indies coach Phil Simmons has admitted the team's persistent and obvious struggles with the bat are hurtful, particularly as he believes the unit had started to show improvement last year.

Despite commendable performances from its bowling line-up, the Windies batting line-up continued to struggle for yet another series after going down 3-0 to India on Thursday.  At the crease, in South Asia, the team at times looked ill-prepared or unable to find the resolve or technical ability needed to put partnerships together at crucial times or cope with the India bowlers for any prolonged period.

Similar to its performance against Ireland last month, where they lost an ODI series against that opponent for the first time, the Windies looked, perhaps more than ever, susceptible to losing wickets in huge clusters, which made it impossible to chase even modest targets.  In three matches, the team failed to reach 200 with its highest score of 193 coming in an all-out effort in the second match, in pursuit of 237 for 9.

For the batsmen, it was Jason Holder who led the way with a modest 65 over three matches, followed by Nicholas Pooran with 61, while lower-order all-rounder Odean Smith had 60.  By comparison, India’s top three featured Kuldeep Yadav who made 104 in three matches, Rishabh Pant made 85, while Shreyas Iyer made 80 in just one match.  Overall, the India batting line-up, which chased a low target in the first match, outscored the West Indies line-up by 148 runs.

“This is difficult, the last six games have been difficult in this format.  We started putting things together last year when we played Sri Lanka, it was difficult against Australia, but we started putting things together.  For this (type of performance) to come now, it’s hard to take, it’s hard to take from the batsmen,” Simmons told members of the media on Thursday.

“It’s not outwardly showing, but it’s hurtful and the players know that.  We have to make sure that we do the right things moving forward to get this batting line-up or whoever the batting line-up is to function as a batting line-up, to have big partnerships and assess the thing properly.”

The team’s highest partnership of the series was a 78 run seventh-wicket stand between Fabian Allen and Jason Holder.  Overall, the majority of the team’s biggest partnerships came from batting places below the 5th wicket.

“The mode of dismissals is the biggest issue.  If we are assessing the situation and we are playing according to the situation, and you get out then that’s execution.  But not assessing the situation and knowing what you want to do in the situations and the modes of dismissal it’s hurtful, and it doesn’t make for good watching as we’ve seen.  It’s something the players have to sit and get right as soon as possible.  We can’t keep going like this.”

 

The West Indies just played three One-Day Internationals against India and failed to make 200 runs in any of them.

176, 193 and 169 were the scores the Caribbean side managed to put up during the series and Head Coach Phil Simmons, speaking in the post-series press conference on Friday, says this trend is concerning.

“It needs urgent attention. It cost us the last two games. If you bowl India out for 230 and 260, you expect to chase it,” he said.

The West Indies, not too long ago, showed improvement in their batting performances in ODIs, particularly in Sri Lanka’s tour of the West Indies in early 2021 which saw the regional side make scores of 236-2, 274-5 and 276-5 in the three matches.

“Just under a year ago, we were cruising to 280 and 290 against Sri Lanka who has similar spinners so the batting is a huge concern and people have got to stand up now as we go into our next set of ODIs in June,” Simmons added.

On a more positive note, Simmons praised the performance of his bowlers in the series.

“I think a positive is that the bowlers have done what we’ve asked of them. We’ve kept a strong India batting line-up to 230 and 260 and I think that’s a huge positive. The way how we’ve gone about our task on the field when bowling and fielding have been a huge positive all-round,” he added.

The West Indies will play India in three T20Is beginning on Wednesday while their next ODI assignment will be a three-match tour of the Netherlands in June.

 

 

 

The West Indies struggles in One-Day International cricket continue after suffering a 96-run loss in the third ODI against India, in Ahmedabad on Friday, suffering a 3-0 series sweep in the process.

The hosts, who won the toss and chose to bat first, suffered a poor start after losing captain Rohit Sharma (13), Shikhar Dhawan (10) and Virat Kohli (0) in the first 10 overs.

With the Indians teetering at 42-3, Shreyas Iyer and Rishabh Pant rescued the innings with a partnership of 110 before Pant was dismissed for 56 in the 30th over to leave the Indians 152-4.

Shreyas eventually got to a top score of 80 off 111 balls, including nine fours, before he was dismissed in the 38th over to leave India 187-6.

A crucial 53-run seventh-wicket partnership between Deepak Chahar (38) and Washington Sundar (33) ensured that India eventually posted a respectable 265 all out off their 50 overs, a score they would’ve been very happy with based on the start they had.

Jason Holder was outstanding for the West Indies with 4-34 off eight overs while Alzarri Joseph and Hayden Walsh supported well with two wickets each.

The Windies reply never got out of first gear with only Odean Smith (36) and captain Nicholas Pooran (34) managing to pass 30.

Alzarri Joseph also contributed 29 in a disappointing batting effort which saw the West Indies bowled out for 169 after 37.1 overs.

Prasidh Krishna (3-27 off 8.1 overs) and Mohammed Siraj (3-29 off 9 overs) led the way for the Indians with the ball.

The two teams will now turn their attention to the three-match T20 International series which begins on Wednesday.

 

 

 

West Indies all-rounder Odean Smith insists he still has a lot to learn despite a number of positive performances for the men in maroon in recent matches.

On Wednesday, Smith was one of the few bright sparks as the West Indies crumbled in pursuit of a modest 237, set by India, in the second One Day International match between the teams.  The player put on a solid 24 runs from 20 deliveries at the tail of the innings, a figure made more impressive considering it was the third-highest score for the team on the day.

Prior to that, during India's turn at the crease, Smith had bowled with plenty of pace and hostility in claiming 2 for 29, removing both dangerous batsmen Rishabh Pant and Virat Kohli.  His figures were the best for a West Indies bowler on the day.  The player, however, insists he remains determined to better both his approach to the game and performances.

“I have a lot of work to do in both departments, bowling, and batting, so going forward I’m going to have to do a lot more work,” Smith said following the match.

“I was saying the batsmen should have tried more to bat time.  I should probably have done the same thing.  We needed 44 from four overs, it’s not a lot and if we had taken it to two overs it would have been a different game, instead of trying to get it (runs) as quick as possible,” he added.

“So, I have a lot of work to do, but everything comes with time.  It’s around my fifth ODI game, so, I think I have a lot of time to continue learning.”

A devastating six-wicket haul from T&T Red Force off-spinner Bryan Charles played a key role in skittling out Jamaica Scorpions for under 160 runs, on day one of the West Indies Championship at the Brian Lara Stadium.

The Scorpions found themselves on the back foot early on when Red Force pace bowler Jaden Seales struck to remove opener Leroy Lugg, with just 10 runs on the board.

 Charles, who ended the match with outstanding figures of 6 for 48, began his relentless attack on the Scorpions line-up by breaking up the dangerous partnership of John Campbell and Jermaine Blackwood.  The duo had already come together to put on 64 for the second wicket when Campbell was caught by Imran Khan off Charles.

Blackwood seemed on track for a half-century but was also uprooted on 44, by Charles, four overs later.  A shocking collapse then saw the Jamaica-based franchise lose their next four wickets for just 5 runs as Alwyn Williams (5), Romaine Morrison (0), Derval Green (0), and Jamie Merchant (0) all departed in quick succession.  Paul Palmer combined with Marquino Mindley for a late-innings 33-run partnership to avoid further embarrassment.

Seales provided the most support for Charles after claiming 2 for 17.  In response, Trinidad and Tobago were 98 for 3 at the close of play, having lost openers Keagan Simmons (11) and Khan (9), and Jason Mohammed (22). Joshua Da Silva (22) and Yannick Cariah (11) are the not-out batsmen at the crease.

 

Solid half-centuries from opener Devon Smith and Alick Athanaze ensured that Guyana Harpy Eagles spent the day toiling in the field as Windward Volcanoes posted 278 for 9 on day one of the West Indies Championship at Queens Park Oval.

The team was, however, also bolstered by staunch lower-order resistance to close the day, with the unbeaten last-wicket partnership of 62 between Preston McSween and Sherman Lewis continuing to frustrate the Jaguars.

After winning the toss and choosing to bat, the Windwards found themselves in early trouble when opener Kimani Melius was struck on the helmet by a delivery from Clinton Pestano and forced to leave the field without scoring.

Smith began in shaky fashion but dominated an early partnership with Kavem Hodge, who came in after Melius.  Hodge was dismissed for 10 after being caught by Leon Johnson off the bowling of Keemo Paul, while Smith went on to record his 64th First-Class half-century.  It was Paul who also brought that innings to an end with the batsman on 52.

Smith and Athanaze had produced a partnership of 49 before the former was dismissed.  Athanaze then kept a productive middle-order going after next pairing with Keron Cottoy to put on 63 for the third wicket.  The partnership ended when Cottoy was caught by Johnson off the bowling of Paul and Athanaze, who looked in good shape for triple figures, departed after unsuccessfully attempting to reverse sweep Veerasammy Permaul and being adjudged lbw on 68.

From 190-4, the Volcanoes quickly slipped to 195-6. Melius was dismissed for three following his return to the pitch.  With Kenneth Dember dismissed on 6 and the team struggling at 215, in the 73rd over, the innings looked set to be over, but McSween went on the attack against the bowler with some clean hits late on.

Guyana spinners Gudakesh Motie (3-61) and Permaul (3-5) have managed a combined six wickets for far, while Paul claimed 3-64.

West Indies vice-captain Nicholas Pooran has lamented the team’s inability to put together quality partnerships, following a 44-run loss to India in the second One Day International on Wednesday.

For the fourth straight ODI, the West Indies struggled to occupy the crease for any significant period, this time around in pursuit of India’s of 237, which could hardly be considered as overwhelming in most circumstances.

However, as has become the norm, the team struggled early on at the top of the order, with the first three batsmen combining for 46 runs.  Shamar Brooks and Akeal Hosein managed to put 42 on the board in the middle of the innings and Odean Smith added 24 late on, but chasing even such a modest target would have required plenty more stability and application, particularly at the top of the order.

Pooran, who himself made 9 from 13, insists the team needs to be much better at occupying the crease and carrying on to make notable scores.

“We kept losing wickets after developing partnerships.  Especially losing soft wickets,” Pooran said following the match.

“Every time someone is set, we got out at the wrong time.  The top five top six batsmen did not put up our hands tonight,” he added.

The team headed into the ODI series against India on the back of a particularly rough patch of form, having lost to Ireland for the first time in the format last month.  The Windies will look to avoid a sweep when they face India in the final match on Friday.

 

Andrew Strauss called for England's bowlers to step up after the omission of James Anderson and Stuart Broad against the West Indies but suggested the pair could feature later in the year.

England's interim managing director Strauss, interim coach Paul Collingwood and head scout James Taylor made up the three-man selection panel for the series, which starts in Antigua on March 8, and opted for a host of changes to the side.

Joe Root will once again lead his country, despite a 4-0 Ashes hammering by Australia in December and January, with Collingwood acting as interim coach following the departure of Chris Silverwood.

Anderson and Broad, who have managed 1,177 wickets in 321 Tests between them, were the most notable names left out of the touring party for the three-Test series in the Caribbean.

Lancashire pair Saqib Mahmood and Matthew Parkinson, along with Yorkshire's Matthew Fisher, were all included as the trio eye red-ball international debuts.

Strauss challenged the bowlers of the new-look squad to deliver in the absence of their evergreen stars, insisting that both the fresh faces and the more experienced players – such as Chris Woakes, Mark Wood and Ben Stokes – must step up.

"This is an opportunity to refresh and look forward," Strauss told BBC Sport in an interview published on Wednesday. "We've brought some new blood into the bowling resources. 

"But we're also asking some of our existing bowlers to play a slightly different role to the one they've played before and show a bit more leadership."

 

Strauss reiterated the omission of Broad and Anderson does not signal the end for the duo, while he denied the pair's stature could be intimidating to captain Root and his younger players.

"They've earned the right to have that stature," he added.

"But we also have to think that there is life beyond them as well and we need to develop some of the other bowlers and allow them to play more of a leadership role, rather than just a followership role.

"No-one is saying Broad and Anderson won't feature this summer and beyond.

"My job is to give the new director of cricket and coach options from which to pick and we can learn more about the options we do have on this tour.

"The new coach and director of cricket will look at selection for the summer and Broad and Anderson will be very much in the mix."

Former opener Strauss also confirmed that Root will come in at number three, while the uncapped Durham batter Alex Lees will partner Zak Crawley at the top of the order amid England's ongoing battle problems.

"A lot of our batting problems have come at the top of the order," Strauss continued.

"Alex Lees comes in as a mature cricketer who knows his game well and it's an opportunity for him to stake his claim with Zak Crawley.

"Joe Root has said very categorically that he wants to bat at three and take that responsibility on.

"That's quite a fundamental shift in itself and creates a bit of space in the middle order for some of the less experienced players to play better and more consistently."

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