West Indies white-ball cricket captain, Kieron Pollard is not paying attention to the difference in ranking between his side and India who are currently locked at a win apiece in their three-match T20i series.

West Indies batsman Nicholas Pooran, by all accounts, is a very talented player, who could do great things on the international scene, and his 38 not out to help his side to an 8-wicket win over India in the second T20 between the two in Thiruvanthapuram on Sunday is evidence of that fact.

According to Pooran though, his talent isn’t enough to help him do well for the West Indies or even keep his place, and that he has to work hard.

“I work very hard and happy it's finally paid off. I believe in my processes and glad it's coming off,” said Pooran, who came to the crease with the West Indies on 112-2 in chase of India’s 170 in the 14th over.

Six overs later it was all over, as Pooran took over from Lendl Simmons, who scored a classy 67 from 45 deliveries, slamming four boundaries and two sixes in 18 balls to take the West Indies to 173-2

That type of innings, Pooran said, was not difficult, because the hard work has already been done.

“Cricket's all about having fun. I've put in a lot of hard work, so now is time for having fun,” he said.

Pooran explained after the game that places in the middle order of the West Indies side comes at a premium with the type of talent that lies in it but that was good for the team.

“There's a bit of competition in the middle order, but we all want to do good, that's all,” he said.

Earlier Evin Lewis had scored 40 and Shimron Hetmyer, 23, in a bid to chase down India’s 170, which they were restricted to thanks to Hayden Walsh Jr’s 2-28 and Kesrick Williams’ 2-30.

Those bowling figures, along with the start from Lewis and Simmons, meant there was no pressure for Pooran.

“To be honest, we had no pressure. Tried not to panic, tried to build partnerships.”

Steve Smith is backing Melbourne Cricket Ground curator Matt Page to deliver an acceptable wicket for the Boxing Day Test between Australia and New Zealand.

The final match at the MCG before that contest - the Sheffield Shield clash between Victoria and Western Australia - had to be cancelled on Saturday due to an unsafe pitch.

Umpires called off day one after Western Australia batsmen Shaun Marsh and Marcus Stoinis were struck multiple times amid unpredictable bounce.

Cricket Australia promised to ensure there is a wicket of "international standard" for December 26, though, and Smith has no doubt Page will do the necessary hard work.

"I'm sure they'll produce something good for us on Boxing Day," the Australia superstar said ahead of the first Test in Perth this week.

"It's a really fine line with that wicket. Pagey is a very good curator - he'll be working as hard as he can to try to get a wicket that is suitable for bat and ball.

"These guys have a really tough job. They've tried a lot down in Melbourne but not been able to get something that is a bit more bowler friendly.

"They're going to work hard over the next couple of weeks to get us a good wicket for Boxing Day."

Lendl Simmons revealed his "old-school" approach had been pivotal to his match-winning knock in West Indies' Twenty20 victory over India in Thiruvananthapuram.

Simmons' unbeaten 67 from 45 balls helped the Windies to an eight-wicket triumph, ensuring the series will go to a decider as he capitalised on being dropped with just six runs to his name in one of several fielding errors to irk India captain Virat Kohli.

Despite a slow start, Simmons soon accelerated through the gears and his eye-catching outing included four fours and the same number of sixes.

As he was presented with the player of the match award, Simmons said the pacing of his innings was all part of the plan.

"I like playing against India, it's a good challenge," he said, having been ably assisted by Evin Lewis (40), Nicholas Pooran (38 not out) and Shimron Hetmyer (23).

"I haven't played international cricket for a while, so I'm enjoying it. I didn't start how I wanted to. My partners can go from ball one, but I am a bit old school.

"With experience, you know your game, and I understand my role. It was easier to bat after the powerplay, getting the odd boundary.

"Pooran and Hetmyer were getting boundaries easily so I played the different role."

A frustrated Kohli conceded his side had come up short with their total of 170-7 but felt their complacency in the field had been telling.

"I think we were good for 16 overs while batting, but then in the last four overs we got only 30. We need to focus on that," he said.

"But if we field so poorly, no amount of runs will be enough. We were poor in the field in the last two games.

"We dropped two catches in one over. Imagine if they lost two wickets in the same over.

"Everyone saw we need to be braver with our fielding. Do or die game coming up in Mumbai [on Wednesday]."

Lendl Simmons guided West Indies to an eight-wicket thumping of India in the second Twenty20 international in Thiruvananthapuram, setting up a series decider in Mumbai on Wednesday.

Simmons finished unbeaten on 67 from 45 balls, having received able support from Evin Lewis (40), Shimron Hetmyer (23) and the returning Nicholas Pooran (38 not out) as the Windies reached a target of 171 with nine deliveries unused.

Shivam Dube had earlier compiled a maiden half-century for the hosts, impressing with 54 from 30 balls after being surprisingly promoted to number three, yet Virat Kohli's men were ultimately overpowered as West Indies hit 12 sixes to India's five.

The tourists were 26 without loss after five overs, but they accelerated in devastating fashion thereafter to win with ease.

Simmons was the star turn, hitting four fours and as many sixes as he took full advantage of being dropped by Washington Sundar on six, while Pooran scored at a strike-rate of 211 on his comeback from a four-match ban for ball-tampering.

Lewis and Hetmyer also provided the necessary impetus to get the Windies ahead of the required rate, the latter thumping three maximums before falling victim to a stunning Virat Kohli catch at long-on, which saw India's captain take the ball on the run before contorting his body superbly to avoid touching the boundary rope.

India were left to rue Sundar putting down a routine chance off Bhuvneshwar Kumar to give Simmons an early life, though, and Lewis was also dropped on 17 by wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant.

Dube, who cleared the ropes four times, and Pant (33 not out) were the only home batsmen to make significant contributions to a score of 170-7, as the Windies' attack kept things relatively tight despite conceding a glut of extras.

Suranga Lakmal has withdrawn from Sri Lanka's squad to face Pakistan after contracting dengue fever.

The fast bowler will not travel with his team-mates on Sunday and has been replaced by Asitha Fernando.

Sri Lanka confirmed the news in a tweet as the squad was preparing to depart for two Tests in Rawalpindi and Karachi.

Lakmal's absence aside, the tourists boast a full-strength squad, in stark contrast to the one that headed to Pakistan in September and October, when 10 high-profile players withdrew amid security concerns. 

The opening Test begins on December 11 and will be the first in Pakistan in a decade.

A dangerous pitch has forced the MCG's final match before the Boxing Day Test between Australia and New Zealand to be cancelled in Melbourne on Sunday.

Preparations for the December 26 Test were thrown into chaos after the Sheffield Shield clash between Victoria and Western Australia was suspended on Saturday.

Umpires decided to call off day one of the match due to an unsafe wicket, after Western Australia batsmen Shaun Marsh and Marcus Stoinis were struck multiple times amid unpredictable bounce.

Cricket Australia (CA) released a statement, ensuring there will be a wicket of "international standard" ready for the Boxing Day blockbuster as organisers and curators were left scrambling.

The teams returned on Sunday but after a morning inspection it was agreed for the match to be abandoned, despite extensive work from the ground staff.

While a different strip will be used for the Australia-New Zealand Test, it has sparked cause for concern ahead of the trans-Tasman fixture.

"We won't be losing the Boxing Day Test," Victorian sports minister Martin Pakula said. "I understand there is disappointment about the Shield match being abandoned but I've spoken to Stuart Fox [Melbourne Cricket Club chief executive] yesterday and today.

"The wicket being used for the Boxing Day Test is a different wicket to the one used yesterday and I've got no doubt that by the time we get to Boxing Day in a couple of weeks from now the wicket will be in perfect order for a Test match."

"I applaud the MCC for trying to prepare a wicket with more life in it," Pakula added. "It has been criticised in recent years for being too favourable to batsmen. The club is trying to find more balance between batting and bowling and they will keep working on that not just this year but in years ahead."

Australian Cricketers' Association (ACA) chief executive Alistair Nicholson added: "The right decision has been made. When player safety comes into it there's no debate from our point of view."

The opening Test between Australia and New Zealand starts in Perth on December 12.

Many of the big-name West Indies T20 players, including Andre Russell and Dwayne Bravo, have been axed from their teams in the Pakistan Super League ahead of its February 2020 start during Saturday’s draft in Lahore.

Cricket South Africa (CSA) has confirmed they are close to appointing Graeme Smith as their new director of cricket.

The former Proteas captain – who scored over 9,000 runs in 117 Test appearances for his country – had previously released a statement on social media to dismiss speculation he would be taking the role, citing "real concerns", though discussions with the governing body were still ongoing.

At a press conference on Saturday, president Chris Nenzani announced CSA expects to finalise terms with Smith in the coming days.

The organisation has also moved quickly to fill the void created by the suspension of chief executive Thabang Moroe on Friday, with Jacques Faul taking over immediately on an interim basis.

Smith is set to be officially presented next Wednesday, less than three weeks before South Africa begin their four-Test series against England on home soil.

"I'm happy to announce that we have engaged Graeme Smith. I am confirming that he has agreed that by next week Wednesday all of the negotiations around the contract terms that need to take place would have been concluded," Nenzani told the media.

"We still have these three days left for engagement on the specific issues around the contract. He and CSA have both agreed that it is important that we conclude this by Tuesday so that on Wednesday we are able to announce to the public a certainty of how we go forward.

"If you have you have your director of cricket in place, then your selection processes are going to kick in, then your team preparation is going to kick in."

Faul steps in following the "precautionary" suspension of Moroe – who remains on full pay – due to allegations of misconduct.

Nenzani revealed they had held discussions with ex-Proteas international Dave Richardson, who previously held the position of chief executive officer for the International Cricket Council (ICC), over a temporary appointment.

While unable to assist on a full-time basis, Richardson will be available to provide support for Faul, who is CEO of the Titans franchise in domestic cricket.

"When I spoke to him [Faul], he did not even think for a moment, he said, 'I will come in and lend my support and put my shoulder on the wheel for the benefit of cricket in this country'," Nenzani said.

On talks with Richardson, he added: "His role will be to offer support and also to be available when required by the acting CEO.

"That to us ticks the box when we are having stability at that level of management. Up to this moment, we did not have a CEO and, in leadership, you should not allow a vacuum to occur."

James Anderson, Jonny Bairstow and Mark Wood have all been recalled by England for the Test series with South Africa.

Seamer Anderson, his country's leading Test wicket taker, has not appeared on the international stage since tearing his calf in the first Ashes match at Edgbaston in August.

He and Wood have been taking part in a fast bowling camp in Cape Town, the latter reduced to the role of spectator for the Ashes and the recent tour of New Zealand due to a left knee injury and side strain sustained in the World Cup final in July.

Wood is not expected to be available for the "earliest matches" of the tour, with Bairstow – who also travelled to Cape Town to work on his batting – restored to the 17-man squad after being omitted from the squad for the Black Caps series.

Bairstow endured a disappointing Ashes, scoring 50 just once in the five-match series. Moeen Ali, who had been tipped for a possible return to the squad having been dropped after the Edgbaston loss to Australia, is still unavailable for the selection. The all-rounder elected to take a break from the longest format in September.

Saqib Mahmood is the only player to lose his place. The Lancashire seamer did not feature in either Test in New Zealand.

Moeen's continued absence means Jack Leach and Matt Parkinson will provide the spin options for the four-Test series.

National selector Ed Smith said: "It is not predicted that Mark will be available for selection for the earliest matches. However, he will travel with the team and continue his rehab work with the medical staff on tour.

"There is no exact date given for his return, but the medical team is working towards him becoming fully available for selection during the tour.

"With that in mind, and given the extended period that James and Mark have had on the sidelines due to injury, it was sensible to have a 17-man squad."

England play a pair of warm-up matches before the first Test, which begins on December 26 at Centurion.

There were nine ducks in Maldives Women's innings as they were comprehensively beaten by Nepal Women in the bronze-medal Twenty20 match at the South Asian Games.

Aima Aishath was the only batter to score, with seven of the eight runs coming via extras, as Maldives went from six without loss to eight all out.

There was another impressive bowling display from Anjali Chand, who finished with 4-1 from her four overs, having taken a T20 world-record 6-0 in the previous meeting between the two countries earlier in the competition.

Nepal's openers Kajal Shrestha and Roma Thapa accrued the nine runs required in 1.1 overs to secure victory with 113 balls remaining.

Pakistan have recalled Fawad Alam to their Test squad for the two-match home series with Sri Lanka, over 10 years on from his last red-ball appearance for his country.

The series will mark the first home Tests for Pakistan since several Sri Lanka players and members of their coaching staff were injured in an attack on their team bus in March 2009.

Security concerns meant the matches were originally scheduled to be hosted at a neutral venue, but the success of limited-overs games in the country against the same opposition in September and October saw them switched to Pakistan.

Fawad has played only three Tests in his career, scoring a century on debut versus Sri Lanka in Colombo in July 2009. His last appearance came against New Zealand in Dunedin that November.

The 34-year-old middle-order batsman replaces Iftikhar Ahmed in the 16-man squad. Iftikhar scored just 44 runs across the two-match series in Australia, which Pakistan lost 2-0.

Fast bowler Usman Shinwari, uncapped in the Test arena, replaces Muhammad Musa, who posted figures of 0-114 in his only appearance against Australia in Adelaide.

Sixteen-year-old quick Naseem Shah keeps his place in the squad, and will link up with his team-mates for the Under-19 World Cup, which starts in South Africa next month, at the conclusion of the series.

Rawalpindi hosts the first match, which begins on Wednesday, with the National Stadium in Karachi the venue for a decider starting on December 19.


Pakistan squad: Azhar Ali (captain), Abid Ali, Asad Shafiq, Babar Azam, Fawad Alam, Haris Sohail, Imam-ul-Haq, Imran Khan, Kashif Bhatti, Mohammad Abbas, Mohammad Rizwan (wicketkeeper), Naseem Shah, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Shan Masood, Yasir Shah, Usman Shinwari.

Cricket Australia will ensure there is a wicket of "international standard" ready for the Boxing Day Test between Australia and New Zealand after Saturday's play at a Sheffield Shield match was abandoned due to unpredictable bounce.

Shaun Marsh and Marcus Stoinis were each struck multiple times by bouncers on day one of the clash between Victoria and Western Australia, forcing the umpires to step in and call a halt to proceedings because of the danger posed by the pitch.

Play is due to resume on Sunday - WA were 89/3 at the time of the suspension - at 10:00 local time (23:00 Saturday GMT), with Cricket Australia focused on ensuring there are no such problems for the second Test with New Zealand.

"We're very disappointed at today's play being abandoned in the Marsh Sheffield Shield match between Victoria and Western Australia," Cricket Australia's head of cricket operations Peter Roach said.

"But we also acknowledge that there have been two previous Shield matches at the MCG this season without incident.

"The MCG groundstaff have more than two weeks to ensure the Test surface, which is a different pitch strip to the one being used in this match, is of international standard.

"We will seek to better understand the issues that resulted in variable bounce at the MCG on Saturday. We will also work closely with MCG groundstaff in the lead up to the Test match.

"The safety of our players is always our highest priority. The decision to suspend play and roll the wicket in an effort to address the variable bounce was the correct one and I applaud umpires [Phillip] Gillespie and [Geoff] Joshua for the decisive action taken."

The Boxing Day match of 2017 was marred by pitch issues of a different nature, with a drop-in surface providing next to no help for the bowlers as Australia and England meandered to a draw in the fourth Ashes Test.

Australia's Trans-Tasman Trophy series with New Zealand starts in Perth next Thursday.

Preparations for the Boxing Day Test between Australia and New Zealand have been thrown into chaos after a dangerous MCG wicket forced a Sheffield Shield match to be suspended.

Australia and trans-Tasman rivals New Zealand are scheduled to meet in Melbourne for the second match of a three-Test series, starting December 26.

But Saturday's Sheffield Shield clash between Victoria and Western Australia was called off, leaving organisers and MCG curators scrambling in a worrying sign.

Western Australia batsmen Shaun Marsh and Marcus Stoinis were struck multiple times on day one of the Shield match, prompting umpires to take action due to unpredictable bounce.

Play is scheduled to resume at 10:00 local time on Sunday.

The opening Test between Australia and New Zealand starts in Perth on December 12.

West Indies limited-overs captain Kieron Pollard has placed the blame for a six-wicket defeat to India in the first T20 international of their tour of India squarely at the feet of the bowlers.

The West Indies, sent into bat in the first game of a three-match series, batted well to score 207-4 from their 20 overs, but found the big total not enough, as India romped to 209-4 in 18.4 overs.

For the West Indies, Evin Lewis scored 40 from 17 deliveries, Brandon King announced himself with 31 from 23 balls, and Shimron Hetmyer notched his first half-century in international T20s with 56 from 41. Pollard scored 37 from 19, Jason Holder had a worldwind 24 not out from nine balls, while Denesh Ramdin ended unbeaten on 11 from seven.

In reply, KL Rahul slammed 62 from 40 deliveries, while India captain Virat Kohli was imperious with 94 not out from 50 deliveries.

“Batters had a good effort. You'd take 208 ten out of 10 times,” said Pollard after the game.

“We lost due to the extras column,” said Pollard.

In a bowling innings where Kesrick Williams had none for 60 in 3.4 overs, and Holder struggled, going wicketless for 46 runs, it was still the extras column that was problematic for the skipper. While Sheldon Cottrell was good, taking 1-24 from his four overs, and Khary Pierre took two wickets for 44, the 23 extras, stemming from 11 illegal deliveries, the West Indies racked up was too much.

“Nearly two and a half overs of extra deliveries. Yes, it was a batting wicket, but if we executed our plans better, it could've been a different story,” said Pollard.

Despite the loss and the manner of defeat, Pollard believes the outing was good for the West Indies and showed they were not far away from being a very good T20 side.

“There are only two areas where we lost the game in. Usually we tend to focus on negatives, but a lot of positives to take away today. King and Hetmyer showed great intent. Fielders did well. In the end, we need to improve, and we will win if we learn to tick more boxes. Can't fault the effort of the guys."

The West Indies will look to get the formula right on Sunday when they again go up against India in a bid to even the series at The Greenfield Stadium in Thiruvananthapuram.

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