Pooran steps into the limelight as 16 captains launch ICC T20 World Cup

By Sports Desk October 15, 2022

Nicholas Pooran joined the other captains on Saturday to launch the Big Show and the stage is now set for the marquee cricket event of the year. West Indies skipper was among the 16 men in charge as they made history, coming together Melbourne, Australia – one of the world’s iconic sporting cities. This was the first time all captains came together at an ICC Men’s T20 World Cup.

The Captains’ Day marks the start of the eighth edition of the event that promises to keep more than a billion cricket fans across the globe on the edge of their seats from start to finish. Pooran is charged with leading the West Indies as they go in search of an unprecedented third title. Daren Sammy was at the helm in 2012 and 2016 when the West Indies lifted the trophy – making them the only team to win the coveted title twice – a rich legacy.

Pooran told the audience: “To be honest, I don’t feel like there’s a lot of pressure … we believe that we are a new group of guys, yes, we are new when it comes to T20 cricket. We start at the bottom … think we have the toughest way to the World Cup, and the guys understand that. I keep telling them it may be a blessing in disguise for us to start in the qualifiers first. Obviously everyone knows when you want something you have to work really hard for it.” He added: “But yes, we want to qualify, and obviously there's some pressure, as well, but the guys are not thinking about that. We just want to focus on ourselves and try to play the best cricket we can.”

The big event gets underway on Sunday at 3pm local time when Sri Lanka face Namibia at Kardinia Park Stadium in Geelong in Group A. It will be followed by the United Arab Emirates against the Netherlands at 7pm local time. This marks the first of 45 matches over 28 days with the champions to be crowned at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on 13 November.

West Indies will bowl off their campaign on Monday against Ireland at the Bellerive Oval in Hobart. First ball is 3pm local time (12 midnight Eastern Caribbean/11pm Jamaica). The two teams are in Group B alongside Zimbabwe and Scotland. The two top teams in the preliminary round will advance to the Super12s stage of the event.

 

 

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    England's second innings, which they began 41 runs adrift, got off to a nervy start as opener Zak Crawley (three) was run out by Jayden Seales at the non-striker's end.

    However, much like they did in the first innings, Duckett (76) and Pope (51) settled the hosts down with a 119-run second-wicket stand, before Alzarri Joseph claimed both in the space of eight deliveries.

    Still, Brook and Root also produced an important, unbroken 108-run partnership that placed Ben Stokes' side in command heading into day four.

    Data Debrief: Successive century partnerships for Duckett and Pope

    With a strong finish to their opening innings, the Windies reached 457 - their highest total on English soil since 1995.

    England's response was led by Duckett and Pope's impressive stand of 119, their second three-figure partnership of the series.

    They became only the ninth pair to make two century stands for England in a men's Test, and first since Joe Root and Alistair Cook achieved the feat against Pakistan eight years ago.

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    When England posted 416 on the opening day of the second Test at Trent Bridge, many felt West Indies chances of even getting close to that total were dimmed by the host’s formidable bowling attack.

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    “Obviously, playing the game from a youngster growing up, that's something that you want to do, especially at the highest level in England against England. I'm really happy and I'm satisfied about it, especially, also given the position that the team is in, it's always good to help to the team, so I'm grateful for that,” he added.

    Coming to the crease with the West Indies teetering at 84-3, Hodge faced a daunting task, as the Andre Coley-coached side needed a hero –or in this case, two. This, as Hodge had an able partner in his Dominican compatriot Alick Athanaze, who made a well-played 99-ball 82.

    Together, they steadied the innings, with a crucial 175-run fourth-wicket partnership that took the fight to the English bowlers. Hodge played the perfect foil to Athanaze's aggression, rotating the strike and providing the support his teammate needed.

    “We always batted well together, we played for the same franchise back home and we've had a lot of partnerships, big partnerships. So it's always good to spend time with him. He's a bit more aggressive than I am. I'm more the accumulator, so I tend to go under the radar and go about my business quietly, but it is always great to spend time with him at the wicket,” Hodge said of 25-year-old Athanaze.

    “It's always good to know that the friends, family, and the nation is looking on. That's one of the things you want to do as an ambassador for your country, is put them on the map. Always have a positive light for your country. So I'm really grateful for that,” he added in reference to Dominica celebrating their feat.

    Reflecting on his innings, Hodge pointed to the importance of staying focused and taking things in stride. In fact, the 31-year-old even highlights that his current success is a testament to his unflinching desire and resilience, as there were times when being overlooked sparked doubts about his ability to make it to the big stage.

    However, after scoring 18 half-centuries, five centuries, and over 3,000 runs at the First Class level, the all-rounder, who also took 2-44 during England's innings, eventually got the big break against Australia in February.

    “There were times where I started to doubt myself because I wasn't getting the opportunity. There were times where, you know, to make a test team, obviously because of COVID, we had something called the best invest where they would, like, bring guys in and then they would split the squad into two, and then we would have warm up games and practice games to select the team.

    “I think I've taken part in that, like six or seven times, and every time, a selector or the coach would come to me and say, ‘we're not going to select you; we're looking in this direction’. So every time I went to the best invest, it just took a little bit out of me. But I'm just grateful that I stuck with it and things are now working out, so I'm happy for that,” Hodge explained.

    He continued: “So it (century) was always a dream, and I always wanted to just give myself the best chance to get there. There were times where I had a little bit of doubt, but I never thought about giving up. I always thought I would just try and try and try. If it didn't happen, it didn't happen.