Windies’ Pooran: We need to leave the ego home


West Indies' Nicholas Pooran bats against Afghanistan during an ICC Men's T20 World Cup cricket match at Daren Sammy National Cricket Stadium in Gros Islet, Saint Lucia, on June 17. - AP PHOTO
West Indies’ Nicholas Pooran bats against Afghanistan during an ICC Men’s T20 World Cup cricket match at Daren Sammy National Cricket Stadium in Gros Islet, Saint Lucia, on June 17. – AP PHOTO

AFTER executing a history-making innings against Afghanistan in their final T20 World Cup Group C tie at the Darren Sammy Cricket Ground on June 17, West Indies return to the St Lucia venue to begin their opening round of Super Eight matches against England, on June 19, from 8.30pm.

The maroon concluded the group stage unbeaten after four matches and are intent on maintaining their winning momentum over the next three Super Eight matches, goal-bound on sealing a spot in the semi-final round.

Nicholas Pooran, who top scored with a brazen 98 runs from 53 balls against Afghanistan, said in the post-match press conference that they are wary of the English threat, but believes once they stick to the plan, the Windies can achieve a desired result.

When asked if his aggressive batting was a pre-match warning shot fired at the Three Lions, Pooran said their European opponents are also well aware of the Caribbean team’s firepower, both with the bat and ball. The last T20I series between both cricketing nations was played in the Caribbean in December 2023, with the hosts prevailing 3-2 in the five-match series.

“I know they (England) (were) watching the game. But we’ve played England every year for the past three years in T20 cricket, in the Caribbean. They know the conditions and know how we like to play the games,” he said. Additionally, in December last year, England made a bold move to acquire the experience and services of former West Indies big-hitter Kieron Pollard as assistant coach for the T20 World Cup, in an effort to gain “expertise of local conditions.”

Pitch conditions, both in the US and Caribbean so far, have played a crucial role in determining the outcome of matches. The St Lucia pitch was more batter-friendly as compared to the Guyana and New York venues. So far, it’s the lowest-scoring T20 World Cup ever.

Pooran added, “They (England) have Pollard as well so they have some insight on how we want to play cricket. England is a tough team and have championships behind their back. Wednesday (June 19) is a different opportunity for us and we need to continue to leave the ego home, continue to respect the game and take it ball by ball, over by over.”

England on the other hand, had mixed results in their first-round Group B matches – two wins, one loss and a no result – and finished second behind leaders Australia. Their two victories came against lower ranked nations Oman and Namibia, and loss versus the Aussies.

West Indies defeated New Zealand, Uganda, Papua New Guinea and Afghanistan.

Both West Indies and England are in Group B of the Super Eight alongside USA and South Africa. Group A comprises India, Australia, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. Each team will play every other team in its group once, with the top two sides in each group qualifying for the semi-finals, to be played in Trinidad and Tobago and Guyana on June 26 and 27 respectively.

Meanwhile, against Afghanistan on June 17, West Indies were ruthless and broke a number of records en route to victory.

Sent in to bat, the Windies amassed 218/5 from their 20 overs, with Pooran (98), Johnson Charles (43), skipper Rovman Powell (26) and Shai Hope (25) main contributors.

In reply, Afghanistan crumbled for 114 (16.2 overs) courtesy fast bowler Obed McCoy’s stellar haul of 3/14 in his first start of the tournament. Also contributing with the ball were spinners Akeal Hosein (2/21) and Gudakesh Motie (2/28), while fast bowlers Andre Russell (1/17) and Alzarri Joseph (1/30) were also among the wickets.

At the end, West Indies set several new records. Their total was the highest of this year’s World Cup and their highest total ever posted at any edition of the showpiece event. Pooran’s knock was the highest of this year’s edition so far and his eight sixes helped him overtake Chris Gayle for most sixes by a West Indies player in T20 World Cup history. Pooran now has 128 and counting, surpassing Gayle’s 124. Pooran also became joint-top six-hitter of the tournament, alongside USA’s Aaron Jones.

Additionally, West Indies scored 92 runs during the powerplay making it the highest powerplay score in T20 World Cup history.

On his achievements against Afghanistan, Pooran said, “I’ve worked hard throughout my career. When you work hard and you’re getting the results it’s a proud feeling. I’ve sacrificed a lot and want to be the best version of myself.

What is happening now is only because of my hard work and belief in myself.”

Pooran was pleased with the team’s performance and said everyone on the team “understood their role.” “The last couple of games, different conditions and different wickets, and coming here to this venue we knew the conditions were good. We as batsmen needed to cash in. We can’t say we have bad wickets in the Caribbean and then when we get good wickets we can’t bat on it, so tonight was an opportunity for us to spend some time in the middle and get something respectable.”

He said he felt “gutted” to not achieve the first century of this year’s competition, but it would “come in the right time.”

Speaking about the St Lucia pitch, Pooran added, “There’s some bounce on the pitch and Alzarri can get it up as well. Even Russell, these guys can get the ball up so it’s all about seizing the opportunity, understanding what we have to do on the wicket, which is really important. We know in the Caribbean, we can come here on Wednesday and it’s a totally different track but it’s up to us to understand what we have to do.”

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