Half-centuries of Kavem Hodge and Devon Smith have put the Windward Islands Volcanoes in a strong position of 314 for 5 at stumps at Sabina Park on day one of the Regional Four-Day Championships.

Windies skipper Kieron Pollard has pointed out running between the wickets as a key area of concern for the team, on the back of a surprise four-runs loss to Ireland in the opening T20 international.

On the back of a brisk 95 off 47 balls, which included an explosive eight 6s, the Irish posted 208 for 7.  The Windies, led by Evin Lewis’ 53 and a decent all-round team batting performance, made a good chase of the target before running out of enough balls to get there.

In analyzing the match, Pollard commended the bowlers for recovering from a poor start and the batsmen for making a competitive chase of the target.  He, however, believes the team could have done more running between the crease.

“When we were batting we did not have the urgency running between the wickets.  We know we are a good power-hitting team but when the singles are there and the twos are there we need to run hard between the wickets,” Pollard said.

“When Ireland were batting they hit the ball to our fieldsmen and they ran and that is something we did not do,” he added.

In their total, the Windies amassed 142 boundaries with 55 singles as compared to Ireland’s 124 boundary runs and 74 singles.

 

Odean Smith was the chief destroyer as the Trinidad and Tobago Red Force gained the early ascendancy on the first day of their second-round regional-four day match against the Leeward Islands Hurricanes at Tarouba on Thursday.

Windies T20 star Andre Russell has insisted he lives for the high-pressure moments after a solid performance with the bat to see Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) side Rajshahi Royals safely into the final, at the expense of Chris Gayle’s Chattogram Challengers.

Russell smashed an unbeaten 54 from 22 balls, which included seven sixes and two fours as the team successfully recovered from 80-4 in the 14th over to reach 164-8 with four balls remaining.  The total saw them claim a dramatic two-wicket win over Chattogram, who had been powered by Gayle’s blistering 60 off 24 balls.

"The plan was just to stay there until the end.  I wasn't worried about the falling wickets but as more wickets fell, it put pressure on me,” Russell told Espncricinfo.

“I just wanted one person from one end, and then let me do my thing at the other end. [Abu Jayed] Rahi stood up with me. Well done to him. I think every run was really important. These scores can be very tricky at times,” he added.

"I love playing in these situations, when it is 12, 13 or 14 runs [needed] per over," Russell said. "Sometimes I love when its like even 15 or 16. I like these challenges. I am strong and I know if I stay as still as possible, I will always have an open mindset and I don't premeditate.”

Rajshahi will face Khulna Tigers in the final on  Friday.

Moeen Ali believes he had cruelly become a scapegoat for England's shortcomings before he stepped away from Test cricket last summer.

The 60-Test veteran is looking for a return to the five-day game in the near future, saying he hoped it would come "very soon".

Yet Moeen has revealed his frustration at being singled out for criticism at times when his overall contribution has not justified the scrutiny.

His most recent Test was the Ashes opener against Australia at Edgbaston in August, when the tourists scored a 251-run victory.

Spinning all-rounder Moeen took three wickets in the match but scored just a duck and four with the bat.

He asked for a hiatus from Tests later in the English summer, which meant he missed the tour of New Zealand and the current trip to South Africa.

Describing himself as feeling "burnt out" at the time, Moeen said: "There have been days I've had not so good games but I feel like sometimes it's easy to point the finger at me.

"It did get to me and that was probably one of the reasons why I felt like I needed to step back from Test cricket in particular."

Speaking to the BBC Asian Network, Moeen said: "It's not something people would normally do, especially when you've just won the World Cup, you're playing in the Ashes - I was doing quite well before that.

"Obviously I had a very bad game against Australia in the Ashes and then rightfully I got dropped, but it was almost like it was all my fault and like I've not been good enough for a while and not done anything for two years - but I have.

"I bat number eight and if I don't score runs it's all my fault? It's difficult sometimes."

Moeen, who has made five Test hundreds and boasts 181 five-day wickets, may come back into contention for England's home series against West Indies and Pakistan, describing the England and Wales Cricket board as "amazing in terms of support".

"They've just said, 'Whenever you're ready, mate. We'll be here for you'," Moeen said. "Hopefully very soon I'll be back."

MS Dhoni has lost his central contract with the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), sparking fresh speculation over his international future.

Former limited-overs captain Dhoni was not among the 27 India players to receive deals for the period from October 2019 to September 2020.

The wicketkeeper-batsman has not been in action since the semi-finals of the 2019 Cricket World Cup last July, though he has not officially retired from the international arena.

India coach Ravi Shastri previously said Dhoni had a chance of featuring at the T20 World Cup if he performed well in the Indian Premier League, which starts in March.

Dhoni made his international debut in an ODI against Bangladesh in 2004 and captained his country to glory at the 2007 World Twenty20, 2011 World Cup and 2013 Champions Trophy.

He featured in 90 Tests before retiring from the longest format in 2014.

Ambati Rayudu, Dinesh Karthik and Khaleel Ahmed also lost their central contracts, while Mayank Agarwal, Navdeep Saini, Deepak Chahar, Shardul Thakur, Shreyas Iyer and Washington Sundar were granted deals by the BCCI.

Thursday's Big Bash League clash between the Sydney Sixers and the Hobart Hurricanes was abandoned as much-needed heavy rain fell in eastern Australia.

The Sixers were 45-2 after being put in to bat by the Hurricanes, with Josh Philippe going for seven when he was stumped off a Clive Rose delivery.

James Vince scored just one run before he was caught behind, and a promising Daniel Hughes and Moises Henriques partnership was curtailed when the covers came on at approximately 1940 local time.

With no let-up in the conditions, the match was called off and the points split between the teams, although the rain will come as welcome relief to eastern states ravaged by recent bushfires.

The Sixers are second in the standings, while the Hurricanes are down in ninth.

Mark Wood was named in England's side for the third Test against South Africa, with Jofra Archer once again unavailable.

Captain Joe Root opted to give the fit-again Wood the nod to replace James Anderson, who sustained a rib injury in the Ben Stokes-inspired victory in Cape Town that levelled the four-match series at 1-1.

Paceman Archer missed out in Port Elizabeth as he continues to battle a troublesome elbow problem, while Wood earned a place over Chris Woakes, who was also in contention.

"Jofra pulled up a little sore with his elbow, but credit to Woody, he's fit and firing and that's an exciting place to be, and two guys up around 90mph is an exciting place for England cricket," Root said. 

"We need to make sure we back up [Cape Town] well."

Wood last played a competitive fixture in England's thrilling Cricket World Cup final victory over New Zealand in July and underwent knee surgery after the tournament.

The paceman's last Test match was against the West Indies in St Lucia 11 months ago, but Wood insisted he is raring to go.

"I went to La Manga with James Anderson then the fast bowlers' camp. There've been question marks about my fitness, but that last game [in St Lucia] gives me confidence," he said. 

"Short, sharp burst, four-five overs, give it everything I've got. The outfield is quite green so [you have] got to be clever working on the ball and look after it well."

Ireland captain Andrew Balbirnie insists the team is looking to create history with a T20 series win over the Windies, after taking a 1-nil lead in the three-match series on Wednesday.

On the back of 94 from Paul Sterling and 48 from Kevin O’Brien, the Irish posted a competitive 208 for 7 before restricting the Windies to 204 for 7. Along the way, the Irish, who lost their first wicket with 154 runs on the board, set the highest total ever in the powerplay. 

The win served as a tonic of sorts for the visitors who were defeated 3-0 by the Windies in the recent One Day International series between the teams. 

“It’s great to get a win but you want to win the series and make history, so if we can do that in the next two games we’ll go home very happy,” Balbirnie said.

 “We came so close in that second ODI and it may have affected us in the third ODI.  So, to come out here and show the bottle and win against one of the top teams in T20 cricket was great for the team.”

The Windies and Ireland will face off in the second T20I on Saturday at Warner Park.

 

 

 

 

Windies skipper Kieron Pollard has heaped praise on recently returned all-rounder Dwyane Bravo, despite the player experiencing mixed fortunes in a rare T20 international loss against Ireland in Grenada on Tuesday. 

The 36-year-old, who has been out of competitive action at the highest level for several months, got off to a rocky start when he entered the bowling attack in the 5th over.  The bowler conceded 17 runs but recovered to end with 2 for 28, in the end playing a pivotal role in restricting Ireland to 208 for 7.

At one point, on the back of 94 from Paul Sterling and 48 from Kevin O’Brien, the Irish, who set the record for the highest power play score in T20 cricket, seemed set for a much bigger score.

“I thought he was fantastic.  After going for 17 or 18 in his first over a lot of chatter would have been about what’s going on with Bravo, he’s back and he’s expensive but it goes to show the importance of experience in T20 cricket.  You don’t lose a game in an over and he came back to get two crucial wickets,” Pollard said following the match.

Bravo accounted for the wickets of O’Brien, where he got the crucial breakthrough, and later removed Garth Delany.  Pollard also commended spinner Hayden Walsh.

“Hayden Walsh in all the carnage that was taking place as well, he bowled two overs on a trot and he was consistent with his line and length.”

 

 

 

Nkrumah Bonner, Jamie Merchant and Oraine Williams have been recalled to the Jamaica Scorpions squad for their second-round CWI 4-Day PCL match against the Windward Islands Volcanoes at Sabina Park starting on Thursday.

Paul Stirling's blistering 95 set up a thrilling four-run triumph for Ireland in the opening T20I against West Indies in Grenada.

Stirling clattered eight sixes and six fours in a 47-ball knock, putting on 154 alongside Kevin O'Brien (48) for the opening wicket – meaning the tourists' eventual haul of 208-7 was relatively disappointing.

Evin Lewis was the only Windies batsman to pass fifty but muscular contributions from Shimron Hetmyer (28), Kieron Pollard (31), Nicholas Pooran and Sherfane Rutherford (both 26) took the contest to the wire.

Rutherford and Dwayne Bravo – making his first international appearance since 2016 - fell to impressive left-arm seamer Josh Little (3-29) in the final over as Ireland bounced back from defeat in the recent ODI series to take a 1-0 lead in the three-match rubber.

Their success was built upon the best powerplay score in T20I history as the openers stood on 83 without loss after six overs, Stirling having brought up his half century from 20 deliveries with his fifth six.

They duly brought up three figures in the next over but, after leg-spinner Hayden Walsh and Pollard took pace off the ball to slightly check the scoring rate, veteran all-rounder Bravo bowled O'Brien with a fine yorker that ducked in late.

Sterling mistimed a slog sweep off Walsh to be caught by Lewis five shy of a deserved century and Ireland never truly regained momentum.

Gareth Delany was their next highest scorer with 19, producing the shot of the innings with a glorious six over extra cover from Kesrick Williams, who returned a woeful 0-48 from three overs as Bravo, Khary Pierre and Sheldon Cottrell took two wickets apiece.

West Indies were unable to find a contribution of similar substance to Stirling's at the top of the innings after George Dockrell pouched a stunning catch at deep point to remove Lendl Simmons for 22, with Little the beneficiary.

Lewis stormed to a sixth T20I fifty and was typically strong square of the wicket until he hit Craig Young to a scampering Harry Tector on 53.

Hetmyer looked in the mood with three towering sixes, only for an embattled Dockrell (1-51) to have him caught by captain Andy Balbirnie.

Pollard took up the mantle and kept his side up with the rate, although Dockrell continued to enjoy himself far more in the field and held on when the Windies skipper sent Simi Singh skyward.

The pattern continued with Pooran, who pulled Young (2-31) to Delany for 26 after the 18th over from Barry McCarthy (0-55) cost a damaging 27.

Rutherford found Dockrell's unerring hands at wide long-on before Bravo – sensing a picture-book return – also went six and out as Little and further flawless catching in the deep saw Ireland home, the Windies finishing just short on 204-7.

England captain Joe Root pledged not to take any risks over the fitness of pace bowlers Jofra Archer and Mark Wood on the eve of the third Test against South Africa.

A Ben Stokes-inspired England squared the four-match series at one apiece thanks to a thrilling victory on the final session in Cape Town eight days ago.

Glory came at a price, however, with James Anderson ruled out of the remainder of the tour due to a rib problem.

It means a potential opening for Wood or Archer – both of whom are capable of frequently topping 90 mph - providing their own injury complaints are in order.

Archer sat out the previous Test due to an elbow issue, while Wood has not played competitively since England's Cricket World Cup final win over South Africa in June.

"That decision hasn't been made," Root told a news conference, with regards to Anderson's replacement.

"It's important to use [Wednesday's] session and make sure we've got a really clear understanding of where everybody is at.

"We need to find that out and make sure we're really clear going into a five-day game that they are able to stand up to the challenges that will bring, physically and mentally, having not played for a little while.

"It is the sensible thing to do to hold off, get more information on the pitch and more information on where they're at.

"If they've proven themselves to be fit, if they've jumped through every hoop and worked very hard to get back there, you have to give them that opportunity."

Chris Woakes represents an alternative if England opt not to chance Archer or Wood, but there is no doubt selecting either of the speed merchants carries added allure.

Wood's most recent Test outing saw him claim first-innings figures of 5-41 thanks to a searing spell before being named man of the match in a 232-run demolition of West Indies in St Lucia.

"With Mark, if you look at the last summer of cricket he played, he actually got through a lot of cricket injury-free which is testament to how hard he's worked on his rehab and making sure his body can cope with different things. He's been managed well by the medical staff," Root said.

"The reason we've been quite cautious in terms of rushing him back is that history. If he's 100 per cent, bowling at 90mph-plus, the skills he has at that pace are going to cause problems and will be a great asset in Test cricket."

Root confirmed a specialist spinner will feature in the England attack in Port Elizabeth, with Dom Bess expected to keep his place ahead of the uncapped Matt Parkinson after Jack Leach returned home due to illness.

England's difference-maker could once again be Stokes, who was honoured by the International Cricket Council (ICC) as its Player of the Year after a phenomenal 2019 in red and white-ball formats.

"It is hard to say any more superlatives, it is the right decision and it could not really have been anyone else," his captain added.

"The way he has performed across all the formats has been fantastic. In my opinion he is definitely the leading player in the world at the moment."

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