Pakistan achieved their highest ever successful run chase in T20 Internationals on Friday to complete a 3-0 series sweep of the West Indies in Karachi.

The home side made 208-3 from 18.5 overs to win by seven wickets.

The Pakistan opening pair of Mohammad Rizwan and Captain Babar Azam were comfortable throughout the first powerplay, taking 60 from the six overs with Rizwan on 32 and Babar on 27.

The pair raced to 98-0 after 10 overs with Rizwan bringing up a half century, his second of the series, on the last ball of the 10th over, and Babar on 46.

A boundary off the first ball of the 11th over bowled by Oshane Thomas made Mohammad Rizwan the first batsman ever to score 2000 T20 runs in a calendar year.

Babar achieved his 50 off 40 balls in the 12th over.

Rizwan and Babar brought up their 150-run partnership in the 15th over, which ended with Pakistan 158-0, still needing a further 50 from 30 balls to secure the sweep.

Babar was finally dismissed for 79 on the first ball of the 16th over bowled by Odean Smith.

Rizwan’s brilliant innings of 87 from 45 balls was finally ended in the 18th over when he was caught off the bowling of Dominic Drakes leaving Pakistan on 184-2 needing 24 off 16 balls to win.

Fakhar Zaman was the next Pakistan batsman to go, caught in the 19th over off the bowling Romario Shepherd for 12 to leave them 195-3.

Pakistan got to their target off 18.5 overs thanks to a late cameo of 21 from seven balls from Asif Ali.

Earlier, The West Indies won the toss and elected to bat, posting an excellent 207-3 thanks to 64 from captain Nicholas Pooran.

He was well supported by Shamarh Brooks who got 49 and Brandon King who scored 43.

Shahnawaz Dahani was Pakistan's best bowler on the day with 1-23 from his four overs.

Mohammad Rizwan was named Man of the Match and, after his brilliant 203 runs in three matches, was also named Man of the Series.

The West Indies have set Pakistan a target of 208 to win the third and final T20 in Karachi thanks to 64 from Captain Nicholas Pooran, his highest T20 International score.

Darren Bravo and Gudakesh Motie replaced Shai Hope and Akeal Hosein in the team for this game as Hope and Hosein were among the five additional members of the touring party to test positive for COVID-19 during PCR tests administered by the Pakistan Cricket Board on Wednesday.

With Hope missing, Shamarh Brooks joined regular opener, Brandon King, at the top of the innings. Together they brought up 50 in the fifth over with King going well on 37 and Brooks on 11.

King was dismissed on the last ball of the powerplay by Mohammed Wasim Jr for a well-played 43 to leave the team 66-1 after six overs.

Pooran came to the crease to join Brooks who was on 21.

Brooks narrowly missed out on a maiden T20 International 50 when he was dismissed for 49 by Shahnawaz Dahani in the 10th over to leave the West Indies 99-2.

After 15 overs the West indies were 153-2 with Pooran on 37 and Bravo on 16. Pooran brought up his fourth T20 International 50 in the 17th over off 31 balls.

He was eventually dismissed by Wasim Jr for 64 from 37 balls to leave his team 192-3 in the 18th over.

The 200 came up in the 19th over with Bravo on 30 and Rovman Powell on four.

The West Indies eventually ended their turn at the crease on 207-3 with Darren Bravo finishing not out on 34 from 27 balls and Rovman Powell not out on six.

Pacer Shahnawaz Dahani was the pick of the Pakistan bowlers with 1-23 from his four overs.

 

The ODI series between Pakistan and the West Indies have been postponed due to an outbreak of the Covid-19 virus among the visiting delegation. Five additional members of the touring party tested positive for the virus after PCR tests conducted by the Pakistan Cricket Board on Wednesday.

The West Indies white-ball tour is at risk of being cancelled after five additional members of the touring party tested positive for Covid-19 during PCR tests administered by the Pakistan Cricket Board on Wednesday.

Shai Hope, Akeal Hosein, Justin Greaves as well as Assistant Coach Roddy Estwick and team physician Dr Akshai Mansingh all returned positive results and will now undergo a period of self-isolation. Roston Chase, Sheldon Cottrell, and Kyle Mayers had tested positive prior to the start of the series are also in isolation.

With a total of six players now ruled out of the tour due to COVID-19 and a finger injury to Devon Thomas (sustained in the 1st T20I), CWI and PCB Officials met Thursday morning, after all members of the touring party were tested again, to determine whether the tour can continue.

According to sources, it was decided that the final T20 will be played but the ODI series could be called off if there is a further outbreak among the West Indies players.

The West Indies trail 0-2 in the T20 having lost the first match on December 13 by 63 runs and the second on December 14, by nine runs.

 

West Indies T20 captain, Nicholas Pooran, said he is unable to explain why his players, himself included, continue to make mistakes that prove to be costly in matches. Pooran was speaking with the media in the wake of his team’s narrow loss in the second of three T20 Internationals in Karachi on Tuesday.

Triple Tokyo Olympics gold medalist Elaine Thompson-Herah was conferred with an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree during the University of Technology’s (UTech) virtual presentation of graduates on Sunday.

The issue of Andre Russell’s loyalty to West Indies cricket was up for discussion on the Mason&Guest talk show in Barbados on Tuesday night and it sparked a contentious conversation between the show’s host Andrew Mason and CWI West Indies Vice-President Kishore Shallow.

Mason believes the CWI is seemingly willing to bend over backwards to accommodate the players’ fancies.

Russell had declared himself unavailable for the West Indies tour of Pakistan for three T20 Internationals citing personal reasons. A relatively inexperienced West Indies team has so far lost two of the three matches with one match to go on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Russell signed on to represent the Melbourne Stars in Australia’s Big Bash League. On the weekend, he scored an unbeaten 42 from 21 balls and was named Man of the Match in the Stars’ six-wicket win over the Sydney Thunder.

On Tuesday, Dr Shallow sought to explain why Russell was in Australia and not in Pakistan helping the West Indies.

“Russell indicated to the lead selector that he was mentally fatigued in the bubble and in the Big Bash League, where he is now, he would be required to be in a bubble,” Dr Shallow said. “That was the rationale provided to the lead selector.”

An obviously exasperated Mason was unable to contain his displeasure at the situation where certain players only choose to represent the West Indies when it suits them to.

“Yes, Dr Shallow, they have got to get the opportunity to make money but there is a word called ‘sacrifice’,” Mason declared, adding that such situations are almost unique to the West Indies.
“The other players don’t do it to their countries, and I am sure Russell is going to be ready to play for us in the world cup and we are going to pick him.

“We cannot continue with the foolishness with these guys.”

Sir Andy Roberts also weighed in on Dr Shallow’s explanation, suggesting that the players seem to make their decisions based on money only.

“These guys just don’t want to play for the West Indies because the fees ain't that high,” said the long-retired fast bowler. “I am not saying that they should not be allowed to go but they should only go if the West Indies do not require their services.”

This is not the first time Russell has faced criticism over his decisions on when to represent the West Indies.

In December 2020, the iconic Antiguan fast bowler publicly criticized Andre Russell, who declined an invitation to play for the West Indies against New Zealand but later went to play in the Sri Lanka Premier League T20.

Chief selector Roger Harper told media that Russell declined the West Indies invitation citing the need to clear his mind after being in quarantine lockdown for both the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) in Trinidad and Tobago where he played for the Jamaica Tallawahs franchise and then, the Indian Premier League (IPL) in Abu Dhabi where he played for the Kolkata Knight Riders.

“Because he wants to clear his head for a while to get his mind together, I have no problem with that because cricket is a high-pressure game,” Ambrose said then.

“So if you want to clear your head for a while, take your mind off cricket I have no issues with that, but if you are going to reject playing for your nation, your country, and then two weeks later you’re playing for somebody else, that to me is a no-no.”

In a later interview, Ambrose provided further clarity.

“The game has evolved. There is a lot more cricket being played now and many different T20 tournaments around the globe and there’s lots more money as well, so guys are going to go where the money is and I have no issues with that,” Ambrose said.

“A cricket career can be a very short one, once you have an injury it could be all over for you so with guys going around plying their trade with different franchises making money to set themselves up financially, I have no issues with it.

“However, I think it needs to strike a balance somewhere because most of these guys who are playing their trade around the world, it’s because they played for the West Indies team why people saw them and gave them contracts.

So for me, you need to find a balance somewhere where you can give back to West Indies cricket. You need to give back to West Indies cricket at some point as opposed to abandoning West Indies

Reggae Boyz head coach Paul Hall says being reactive in transition and circulating the ball quickly will allow the team to get the forwards more involved.

Jamaica has struggled offensively in their World Cup Qualifying campaign so far only managing six goals in their first eight matches.

Hall says getting the ball forward is a priority but a balance needs to be found.

“What we need to think about is a balance with everything. We need to be able to get the ball forward, obviously. We’ve been using our full-backs to get forward and try to get crosses in,” Hall said.

One approach that the team has tried is to use a target-man approach with West Ham striker Michail Antonio. This was evident in the team’s 3-0 loss to Panama on September 5.

Panama countered that approach by putting two centre backs on Antonio and essentially taking him out of the game.

Hall, however, sees progress from his team where that style of play is concerned.

“I think you’re starting to see the team take shape. The ball is going up to Michail Antonio and it’s starting to hold. He’s starting to get some players to support him. We’re able to build a little bit more,” said Hall.

When questioned about the formation of the team going forward, Hall said his emphasis will be on style rather than position.

“I like to build play. I like to get midfield players on the half-turn, playing it forward. It’s not necessarily a formation, it’s a style so whether you play 3-4-3, 3-5-2, 4-3-3, the players all know what style they’re playing in. They want to be able to play one and two-touch, circulate the ball really quickly and make it difficult for people to get close to you so it’s really important that we get the work into the players,” he said.

Hall reiterated that while it will be difficult to implement all his proposed changes in the short term, there are still some general ways his team can improve their offensive output.

“Like I said, in the short term it’s quite difficult to make that happen straight away but there are things like reacting in the transition, winning the ball back quickly and getting the ball forward as much as we can in a controlled manner and really just being attacking-based. That for me is the way how you do it,” said Hall.

The Reggae Boyz have also conceded 10 goals in their eight matches and Hall says limiting mistakes on the ball is a way to solve the Reggae Boyz defensive woes.

“We have players who can keep the ball and receive the ball in those deep-lying midfield areas. We’ve just got to make sure we create situations for us to be able to not lose the ball and focus on that. Really focus on keeping the ball,” Hall said.

Jamaica currently sits sixth in the standings in the final round of CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying with seven points from their eight matches.

Each team has played eight games so far with Canada atop the standings with 16 points ahead of the USA with 15.

Mexico and Panama are third and fourth with 14 each while Costa Rica is fifth with nine.

The Reggae Boyz next take on Mexico on January 27, 2022.

The top three teams at the end of 14 matches will advance to the 2022 FIFA World Cup while the team in fourth will advance to a playoff against a team from the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC).

 

 

New Reggae Girlz Interim Coach Vin Blaine says defence must be the focus to bridge the gap between his team and the better teams in the CONCACAF region.

Speaking at his introductory press conference on Tuesday, Blaine was critical of the team’s defensive organization under the previous coaching staff.

“It’s a concern of mine, from I’ve been watching the team. What I’ve recognized is that defensively, we don’t have bad players but our organization was poor. If I was to criticize the past coaching staff, I would say our girls weren’t playing defensively well. That’s the area I want to sure up first,” said Blaine.

When asked about the fact that the Reggae Girlz have not fared well against the top teams, Blaine said that had more to do with team rotation rather than an inability to compete.

“The team that played against Costa Rica recently; they have not played against the USA, really, because what the coaching staff was doing before, was an assessment of the players, so you found that in the US game, he had a different squad, in the Nigeria game he had a different squad and in the Costa Rica game he had a different squad,” Blaine said.

He was referring to three friendlies the team played against Nigeria, Costa Rica and the USA. In those games, Jamaica won 1-0 against Nigeria, lost 4-0 to the USA and played to a 0-0 draw against Costa Rica. Blaine said the team should not be judged on those recent performances.

“It’s hard to judge how these present girls that have come from the USA and are playing professionally would have matched up,” said Blaine.

“It’s hard to say they did badly because in the past we played a Costa Rica team and I think we got something like 11-0 way back when. They’re still competitive.”

The Reggae Girlz will begin the first round of the CONCACAF Women’s Championship on February 17, 2022, against Bermuda.

They are in Group C alongside Grenada, The Dominican Republic, The Cayman Islands and Bermuda.

The tournament also serves as qualifying for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand from July 20 - August 20.

The Reggae Girlz are looking to qualify for their second straight FIFA Women’s World Cup.

Several Caribbean athletes were on show as the NCAA Indoor Track & Field season continued at the Kansas State Winter Invitational on December 11.

Bahamian Kyle Alcine, competing for Kansas State, won the high jump with a clearance of 2.05m.

Alcine, the silver medallist at the NACAC Under 23 Championships in Costa Rica earlier this year, finished ahead of Kansas State teammate Kamyren Garrett who also cleared 2.05 metres and Kaleb Clark of William Carey jumped 1.95 for third.

 Guyana’s Chantoba Bright, also representing Kansas State, was also a winner at the meet soaring out to 13.31 metres to win the triple jump.

Bright, who won a silver medal in the same event at the recently concluded Pan Am Junior Championships in Colombia, finished ahead of Allanah Lee of Oklahoma who jumped out to 12.28m and Nevagant Jones of William Carey who was third with 11.77m.

Meanwhile, Jamaica’s Fredricka McKenzie, competing for William Carey University, was second in the Women’s 60 metres in 7.52.

McKenzie is a former Edwin Allen High School student who narrowly missed out on an individual medal at Jamaica’s Boys and Girls High School Track & Field Championships or “Champs” on two separate occasions. She was fourth in the Girls Class One 200m in 2018 and a year later, fourth in the Girls Class One 100m.

The race was won by Wurrie Njadoe of Kansas State in 7.45 while her teammate Velecia Williams was third in 7.54.

Williams is a former Hydel High School student, who won silver medals in both the long and triple jump at the 2018 CARIFTA Games in The Bahamas.

Another Jamaican representing Kansas State, Taishia Pryce, finished fourth in 7.60.

Pryce, a former student at the St. Andrew Technical High School, also ran 39.35 to finish second in the Women’s 300m that Njadoe won in 38.42, a new meet record.

West Indies batting legend Brian Lara has been named a brand ambassador for Indian consumer deliverables company USHA International.

A Man of the Match performance from Shadab Khan helped Pakistan take an unassailable 2-0 series lead against the West Indies after a nine-run win in the second T20 International in Karachi today.

A late cameo of 28 from 12 balls by Shadab Khan propelled Pakistan to a respectable 172-8 off their 20 overs in the second T20 international against West Indies in Karachi Tuesday.

Pakistan won the toss and chose to bat first.

After getting to 14 without loss in the second over, Mohammed Rizwan and captain Babar Azam inexplicably went for a single that resulted in the Pakistan captain being run out for seven.

Rizwan and new batsman Fakhar Zaman attempted to steady the ship with a 19-run fourth over off Oshane Thomas to take the score to 38-1. The partnership was broken by Akeal Hosein, who had Zaman stumped for 10.

That wicket brought together, Rizwan and Haider Ali, who on Monday scored half-centuries in Pakistan's 63-run win over the visitors. Together, they guided the hosts to 50-2 at the end of the first powerplay.

Hosein bowled his four overs within the first seven and was once again excellent with figures of 1-16 to follow up his 1-19 performance Monday.

Pakistan were still only 2 wickets down at the halfway mark as Rizwan and Ali played sensibly to take the score to 73-2. The partnership was broken in the 12th over when Odean Smith had Rizwan caught at short cover for 38 from 30 balls. Smith got his second wicket of the day when Haider was caught at deep point by Shamarh Brooks for 31 on the last ball of the 14th over.

Hayden Walsh Jr got his first wicket in the very next over, removing Mohammad Nawaz, who was caught at deep mid-wicket for one.

Pakistan ended the 15th over 113-5 with Iftikhar Ahmed at the crease on 14 and Asif Ali on two.

Rovman Powell took an excellent catch off the bowling of Romario Shepherd to remove Ali for nine off the second ball of the 17th over to reduce Pakistan to 124-6.

Iftikhar hit two sixes off Thomas in the 18th over but was then dismissed caught behind off the last ball for a well-played 32 from 19 balls.

Shadab Khan brought up Pakistan’s 150 with a straight six off Dominic Drakes off the second ball of the 19th over.

Mohammad Wasim Jr was run out on the second to last ball of the innings for five.

Pakistan finished their 20 overs 172-8 with Mohammad Rizwan top-scoring with 38 and Iftikhar Ahmed getting 32.

Odean Smith and Akeal Hosein were the best performers for the West Indies with the ball with 2-24 from 3 overs and 1-16 from four overs, respectively.

Reggae Boyz Head Coach Paul Hall says he wants the team to play attacking, possession-based football but noted that it will be difficult to change the personality of the team in the short term.

“It is very difficult to change the personality of a team in the short term because we’re looking for results and looking to pick a squad and a team that is going to get us results,” said Hall speaking at his introductory press conference on Monday.

 Hall explained the style of play he wants the team to exhibit under his leadership while once again indicating that the changes will take time.

“I do like to press high. I also like to make sure the team is attack-minded and play a possession-based style. How much of that we can get out of them in the short term is down to the work we can do beforehand, but tactically, we’re looking to press and counter-press and hopefully, in the five phases of the game, try to dominate the opposition.” Hall said.

The interim coach also said a change he will implement is centred around the team's wide play and the use of rotations when necessary.

“We could get our wingers to come inside, get our fullbacks attacking or the opposite way around and we could have rotations. I’m very much about rotations,” Hall said.

Hall took charge of the Reggae Boyz last week after the Jamaica Football Federation fired Theodore Whitmore. Whitmore lost his job after the Reggae Boyz only managed to win one of their first eight matches in the final round of qualifiers for the 2022 FIFA World Cup and now lies sixth in the eight-team standings with seven points. Only six matches remain in the qualifiers and the Reggae Boyz are seven points off the top three, which are automatic qualifiers for the World Cup.

The Reggae Boyz will resume their campaign on January 27 against Mexico at the National Stadium in Kingston. The match will come seven days after the Reggae Boyz play Peru in an international friendly on January 20.

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