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.”

 

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.

 

The West Indies will head back to the silence of an empty stadium for part of its tour of India following the announcement that the upcoming One Day International series will be played behind closed doors.

In addition to the cricket, the West Indies most recently concluded series against England looked like a rollicking good time.  Vaccinated spectators were allowed to enter the Kensington Oval and added plenty to the atmosphere.

The team’s tour of India will begin with three One Day International’s at the Narendra Modi Stadium, scheduled between February 6 to 11.  The Gujarat Cricket Association, however, confirmed that due to the current situation with the Covid-19 pandemic the match will be played behind closed doors.

“We are all set to host West Indies Tour of India ODI Series 2022. 1st ODI on 6th of Feb will be a very special and historic match as India will be playing it’s 1000th ODI. The Indian team will be the first cricket team in the world to achieve this feat. @BCCI #INDvsWI #teamindia,” the GCA said via its official Twitter account.

“Considering the current situation, all the matches will be played behind the closed doors,” the state cricket body said in another tweet.

Following the ODI series, the teams will play a three-match T20 International series in Kolkata, for which the West Bengal government has allowed 75 percent crowd attendance.

Windies skipper Kieron Pollard had plenty of reasons to strike an unmistakably defiant tone after a hard-fought series win over England at the Kensington Oval on Sunday.

The victory will have gone some way in easing the pressure faced by both the captain and the team itself following an anemic performance at the T20 World Cup and a shock loss to Ireland in its most recent One Day International series.

During the England series, the West Indies were once again put in a negative spotlight as rumours of player victimization, pertaining to fast bowler Odean Smith came to the surface.

A performance against world number one England, albeit an understrength unit, and particularly one where so many players put in exceptional performances, was timely.  The fact did not escape Pollard.

“Every single one in the dressing room, we rallied together through everything.  Every time we won a game there was something negative against us, but we came out and the guys really won it,” Pollard said after briefly opening with his own rendition of a verse from the popular Jamaica dancehall artist.

“Empty vessels make the most noise.  The guys have worked tirelessly, when we came back from Jamaica our heads were down.  We had conversations in the dressing room regarding how we wanted to play the cricket and I think the guys bounced back pretty well,” he added.

“It’s one series but we have been on the losing end of a lot of series and a lot of games and you have to take this one.  The guys needed an opportunity to just free up themselves and enjoy themselves for a couple of games.”

Particularly pleasing for the team would have been the performance of former captain Jason Holder who claimed man of the series following a virtuoso performance just months after being controversially left out of the 15-man T20 World Cup starting team.

West Indies captain, Kieron Pollard, did not put too much blame on the shoulders of all-rounder Jason Holder after an expensive 18th over led to the ballooning of England’s first innings total.

On Saturday, England leveled the series on the back of a stroke-filled 64 from the team’s captain Moeen Ali, which bankrolled the team’s first innings score of 193 for 6.

Things had looked far more controlled at the start of the 18th over, with England on 134 for 3.  Holder, who had put together a tidy spell to that point, was the target of a savage attack from Ali who launched four consecutive sixes and eventually milk 28 off it.  The following over for Romario Shepherd also proved costly as it ended up adding another 18 to England’s tally.  Pollard admitted the expensive final overs were likely where the game turned.  

“That’s the nature of T20 cricket all it takes is six balls or a couple hits to get you away from where you want to be,” Pollard said following the match.

“We were looking at around at around 160, 170, a total that would have been chasable but them getting to 190 put that extra 20 runs out of our reach,” he added.

“I thought right until then, and even when we started to bat, we had a very good chance.  We slowed up in the middle not losing wickets but we were a little slow.”  

Former Windies skipper, Darren Sammy, believes the team has the potential to do well on the upcoming tour of India, particularly with some of the talents on display during the England series.

The Caribbean team will head to South Asia immediately following the conclusion of the ongoing series against England, where they are currently leading 2-1.  The series has featured a number of standout performances so far, with the likes of Akeal Hosein, Romario Shepherd, and some of the more commonly known names like Rovman Powell and Nicholas Pooran all putting together noteworthy performances during the series so far.

 “They have got some really good one-day players, but we have unearthed some new talents in the ongoing series against England,” Sammy said of the team’s chances for the upcoming series.

“I think the West Indies would do well, but you would need the guys to take the wickets with the new ball.”

The former captain also believes the team’s cause could be helped by the knowledge of current captain Kieron Pollard.

“He has been playing in India for so long (at the IPL) and knows the conditions very well,” Sammy said. “Hopefully that experience and knowledge he could bring on to the field.”

 

West Indies head coach Phil Simmons is pleased to see vice-captain Nicholas Pooran slotting comfortably into the number three role in the team’s recent T20 win against England.

Partnered with man-of-the-match Rovman Powell, Pooran put on a near-perfect display, a combination of power-hitting, game management, and finesse.  The batsman put together a crucial 70 from 43 deliveries, which formed part of a match-winning 122 partnership for the third wicket.

Simmons admits the knock was a good illustration of the type of role the team envisions the batsman is capable of playing.

“It’s been a plan since World Cup.  As we saw, he is understanding his role better and better and yesterday (Wednesday) just showed exactly how we see him controlling the innings,” Simmons told members of the media on Wednesday.

“His communication and control with Rovman was a big plus yesterday,” he added.

Pooran came to the crease following the departure of Brandon King and was part of a 37-run partnership with Shai Hope before joining forces with Powell.

In total, Pooran has played 14 matches batting at the number three position, scoring a total of 356 runs, and has averaged 32.36 so far.

 

 

 

West Indies vice-captain, Nicholas Pooran, believes his performance against England was enhanced by a certain clarity of thought regarding what needed to be accomplished for the team.

Rovman Powell may have stolen the headlines with his sensational knock of 107, but Pooran played just as critical a role in providing the backbone that the 20-run win for the West Indies was built on. As a pair, they combined to frustrate the England bowlers after adding 122 runs for the third wicket.

Pooran, who admits he is still working on adapting to batting at the unfamiliar position of three, scored a crucial 70 off 43 balls.

“For me it was simple. The last couple of games, even from Pakistan I got the opportunity to bat at number 3 and I’m trying to figure out how I should bat at number three. Today I just felt like I had to be clear. Today was about being clear and just executing. If I said I wanted to look for a single for example, I looked for a single and picked the gap. I just tried to put the ego away for me it was all about staying in the moment, playing the situations well. Trying to play things as well as I can."

The team was also forced to put in a strong effort in the field as led by 75 from Tom Banton, England made a good effort of chasing the target before falling short at 204 for 9.

"For me the extra 22 runs at the end was key. In saying that England batted well but we knew if we could string a couple good overs together we would have a good chance. It seems like they played more bowlers today, so that was also a big help for us."

West Indies captain Kieron Pollard has pointed to the importance of putting egos aside in selecting the right team, following a stunning display from returning batsman Rovman Powell against England.

The Windies crept ahead in the five-match T20 International series, on Wednesday, on the back of a brilliant century from Powell.  The batsman, who was playing his first match in the series, came into the line-up at four and smashed a stunning 107 a knock that included 10 towering sixes.

Ahead of the match, some considered it to be somewhat of a controversial decision to add Powell to the line-up at the expense of Odean Smith, who has also shown plenty of promise in recent innings.  The result, however, spoke for itself.  The captain believes it speaks to the versatility of the unit.

“It vindicated the team selection, obviously, it was a good game of cricket we batted first, and we batted well, kudos to Rovman.  He came in having been out for the first two games and took his chance,” Pollard said after the match.

“We have a versatile team.  Sometimes you have to take the ego out of it and give the opportunity to the guys who have the form and the confidence that’s what we did today, so kudos to the management team and to the players who went out and played a fantastic game,” he added.

Equally important was Powell’s pairing with West Indies vice-captain Nicholas Pooran who went into the line-up at the unfamiliar position of three and scored 70 from 43 deliveries.  The pair put on 122 for the third wicket.

West Indies century-maker Rovman Powell admits he has spent the last few months away from the team working out a susceptibility to wrist spin.

The 28-year-old returned to the regional squad with a bang on Wednesday, blasting the first T20I century of his career, and third for a West Indian player, with 107 in a 20-runs win against England.  The crucial innings, along with 70 from vice-captain Nicholas Pooran anchored the team’s effort in taking a 2-1 series lead.

In the batsman’s previous appearance, against Pakistan, he averaged 16.5 in three games where he had real issues navigating wrist spinner Shadab Khan.

“I think it’s been overall improvement, I can strike the ball well but I also have a little problem with wrist spin.  Every time I start my innings they come and bowl wrist spin.

I went away and for the last six, seven months and I’ve been working on wrist spin and trying to open up the offside and I think that showed today," Powell said after the game.

Powell played a watchful innings in seeing off dangerous England spinner Adil Rashid, who claimed 2 for 24 in the previous match of the series.

“We know Rashid is the most threatening of all the bowlers, so all we did is see if we can get 24 or 30 off him, that’s good, just to limit his wicket count and take our chances against the other bowlers for the other 16 overs.”

West Indies all-rounder Jason Holder believes he could be getting back to approaching his best form, partly due to a change in mentality, after a tumultuous past year of cricket.

The 30-year-old was replaced as captain of the team, in March, before finding himself controversially left out of the 15-man squad for the team to last year’s World Cup.  Despite the turmoil, the player has, however, managed to put in consistent performance, particularly with the ball.

Against England, Holder recently achieved a new milestone after taking career-best figures of 4 for 7 against in the ongoing series.  In two matches, he has taken six wickets and looked an assured presence for the team on the field.  The all-rounder admits, these days, he is in a different frame of mind.

“In the recent past…I’ve probably been overthinking it too much.  I’ve been working on some things technically as well from both the batting and bowling standpoint.  Honestly speaking, I would have studied it a little too much in the game and not been as clear as I wanted to be,” Holder told members of the media on Tuesday.   

“So, I’ve tried to iron out a few things mentally and trying to be a lot more focused and committed to what I want to do on a given day and try not to focus on just having a perfect technique,” he added.

The former captain believes it has been a difficult period for the entire group.

“There’s been a lot on my mind in the last year.  I’m just trying to find ways to shut some of it out and try to narrow in and focus on what’s needed.  I think the group has that challenge as well, we are working hard.  Anybody that says we are not working hard enough, I would always challenge that, but there is a lot more to cricket and sport than just working hard.”

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