Windies captain Jason Holder admits the form of middle order batsman Nicholas Pooran has a bit of fresh air, despite a few underwhelming performances by the team at the ICC World Cup so far.

The 23-year-old was one of the few bright sparks for the regional team in a crushing defeat against England last week.  In fact, Pooran scored his maiden half-century, with an impressive 63 from 78 balls, in an eight-wicket defeat.  His responsible partnership with Shimron Hetmyer, who scored 39 from 48, was a steadying factor for the Caribbean team who at one point seemed destined to make less than the 212 they eventually managed.

“Pooran has been really good.  I am pleased with his progress so far.  He has shown a lot of maturity, which is really good for a young player,” Holder said.

“He has got quite a few shots in his locker as well and that is really got to see from a young talent.  I just want him to continue the way that he has been going,” he added.

“If he were marking himself extremely hard, I am sure he would like a 100.  So, let’s hope tomorrow he steps up and carries it deeper.”

In three matches so far Pooran has scored 137 runs.  The West Indies will take on Bangladesh on Monday at Taunton County Ground. 

 

 

Sarfraz Ahmed insists Pakistan must continue to back themselves even as their Cricket World Cup hopes grow slimmer by the day.

Pakistan lost a crunch clash with India by 89 runs on Duckworth-Lewis-Stern, leaving Sarfraz's side struggling on just three points from five matches.

The 1992 champions will now face a tall order to qualify for the semi-finals regardless of their remaining results, but Sarfraz is not ready to give up hope.

"It's definitely getting tougher and tougher but we have to back ourselves," the Pakistan captain said in the post-match presentation.

"We have four matches so we'll try our level best to win all four matches. I'm sure we will bounce back."

Sarfraz defended his tactics with the ball, despite seeing Rohit Sharma hit 140 in another superb batting display for India.

The Pakistan skipper explained: "We have a plan to bowl in the right areas - especially for Rohit, pitch up to the ball. But I thought we didn't hit the right areas.

"We won a good toss but didn't capitalise and that's why we conceded so many runs.

"If you see the pitch and the ball is turning, that's why we picked two spinners, because of the moisture. They bowled really well but credit goes to the Indian batting, especially the middle part - they're batting really well."

Bhuvneshwar Kumar is set to miss India's next two to three games at the Cricket World Cup after sustaining a hamstring injury against Pakistan.

India cruised to an 89-run win over their arch rivals at Old Trafford on Sunday, triumphing on the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern method as Pakistan could only reach 212-6 in a rain-affected run chase after Virat Kohli's side cruised to 336-5.

However, paceman Bhuvneshwar was forced to leave the field while bowling the fifth over of Pakistan's chase, with his replacement Vijay Shankar trapping Imam-ul-Haq lbw with his first ball.

India will be heavy favourites for their upcoming matches with Afghanistan and West Indies, and Bhuvneshwar is poised to miss those games, and potentially the blockbuster clash with hosts England at Edgbaston.

Speaking at the post-match presentation, captain Virat Kohli said of Bhuvneshwar's injury: "Slight niggle, it was because of slipping on the footmarks, so it doesn't look too serious at the moment.

"We're going to give it some time, hopefully he'll be ready in a couple of games, if not, max three games from now.

"He's going to be a very important factor for us so hopefully he can recover well in time. We've got [Mohammed] Shami ready and raring to go so we're not too worried about where the situation stands even after he got injured.

"I think the way the bowlers took responsibility was really good to see. Bhuvi should be fine, he feels the niggle is not too bad, time will heal it."

Rohit Sharma scored a sublime 140, becoming the fourth India player to tally 50-plus in five successive ODIs, recording partnerships of 136 and 98 with KL Rahul and Kohli, who reached 11,000 runs in the 50-over game in 54 fewer innings than Sachin Tendulkar en route to 77.

Kohli added: "The template's been really nice in the first three games, Rohit single-handedly playing that brilliant knock in the first [against South Africa], second [against Australia] was again a team batting effort, this one as well, Rohit's knock was outstanding but you could say to get 335, 340, 350 you need a team batting effort and that's what exactly what happened.

"KL set a good foundation with Rohit, then Rohit after getting to 75 was unstoppable and he showed why he's such a good ODI player again, then it allowed me to play a certain kind of role and Hardik [Pandya] can come in and explode, that's the kind of template we've followed and it's working now, it gives us a lot of solidity in the middle.

"I'm happy playing that role for the team, the other guys are doing their role perfectly. It's going really nicely."

Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli enjoyed landmark days as India routed Pakistan to severely dent their rivals' Cricket World Cup hopes.

Unbeaten at this World Cup, with a washout against New Zealand the only game in which they have not taken maximum points, India demolished Pakistan by 89 runs on Duckworth-Lewis-Stern, with Rohit producing a sublime 140 to help India reach 336-5 at Old Trafford.

In doing so he became the fourth player to score 50 or more in five straight innings for India and compiled respective partnerships of 136 and 98 with KL Rahul (57) and Virat Kohli (77), who reached 11,000 ODI runs in his 222nd innings – 54 fewer than previous record holder Sachin Tendulkar.

Pakistan were initially solid if unspectacular in response, but perhaps the most unpredictable side in limited-overs cricket were unable to reproduce the kind of performance that saw them shock England in their only win of the tournament as they crumbled from 117-1 to 165-6.

Kuldeep Yadav removed the productive pairing of Babar Azam (48) and Fakhar Zaman (62). A brilliant delivery through the gate denied Babar a half-century before Fakhar gave the spinner his second scalp with an ill-advised sweep.

Pakistan's middle order wilted in the face of quick bowling from all-rounders Hardik Pandya and Vijay Shankar, leaving the tail with a mountainous test they were never likely to pass. 

Hardik took two wickets in two balls and Shankar followed up the dismissal of Imam-ul-Haq, which he claimed first ball upon replacing Bhuvneshwar Kumar after he went off with hamstring tightness, by bowling Sarfraz Ahmed.

Rain that had briefly delayed the conclusion of India's innings arrived again, with the stoppage leading to the bizarre spectacle of Pakistan needing 136 off five overs when they returned for a near-impossible chase of a revised 40-over target of 302.

India moved up to third and remain on course for the semi-finals ahead of a meeting with winless Afghanistan, while Pakistan's fading hopes will hinge heavily on their forthcoming clash with South Africa.

ROHIT GIVEN HELPING HAND

Rohit has not needed any assistance during his superb run of form, but he made the most of a pair of huge let-offs early in his latest exhibition of batting prowess as Pakistan missed two run-out opportunities in successive overs.

First Fakhar threw to the wrong end as Rohit made the rash decision to run two, and Shadab Khan then missed with his throw when a direct hit would have seen the opener out on 38.

He went on to reach his century in just 85 balls and hit 14 fours and three maximums before flicking Hasan Ali to short leg.

In scoring five successive ODI fifties for India Rohit joins the elite company of Tendulkar, Ajinkya Rahane and Kohli, who reached 11,000 runs with a glanced four but made the bemusing decision to walk despite getting no top-edge to an attempted hook off Mohammad Amir.

FAKHAR AGAIN AT FAULT

Any hopes Pakistan had of completing a difficult chase went with the exits of Babar and Fakhar.

There was little Babar could do to avoid being clean bowled by a stunner from Kuldeep, but Fakhar's top-edged sweep that presented Yuzvendra Chahal with a dolly was poorly judged and poorly executed.

That set in motion a dismal collapse from Pakistan, for whom the DLS scoreline of their seventh defeat in as many World Cup games with India was flattering.

Ultimately, the most eagerly awaited fixture at the 2019 Cricket World Cup ended in a comfortable win for favourites India against their fiercest foes Pakistan.

This – at a raucous, rowdy and sometimes rainy Old Trafford – was a triumph for cold, calm efficiency over a more impassioned, excitable approach.

Ahead of Sunday's momentous meeting in Manchester, India captain Virat Kohli faced the media and repeatedly played down the size of the occasion, insisting he and his squad would treat it no differently to any other ODI.

"In our minds, nothing changes according to the opposition," he said on Saturday. "We're only focused on playing the type of cricket we're known for, not singling out any player from the opposition or focusing more on one particular player than the other."

Pakistan head coach Mickey Arthur, meanwhile, took an altogether different tack.

"It doesn't get bigger," he told his news conference. "It doesn't get more exciting. I'm telling our players in the dressing room, you could be a hero.

"Your careers are going to be defined by a moment in the game. You do something incredible, you'll be remembered forever."

One can understand Arthur's attempts to fire up his erratic side; India-Pakistan games come around all too infrequently, but Kohli sensed no such need to issue a similar rallying cry.

And those opposing attitudes were borne out when the action got under way as India set about ruthlessly compiling a total of 336-5 that Pakistan never looked likely to reach, even when Bhuvneshwar Kumar exited with a hamstring injury after he had sent down just 2.4 overs.

Fakhar Zaman and Babar Azam briefly threatened to heed Arthur's words and attain hero status, but when Kuldeep Yadav accounted for both and Hardik Pandya ousted Mohammad Hafeez and Shoaib Malik from successive balls, Pakistan had lost four for 12 and eventually toiled to 212-6 following a rain break, leaving them well short of their DLS target.

Under overcast skies, Sarfraz Ahmed had opted to put Kohli's side in to bat and one could sense Pakistan's desperation to make best use of seemingly favourable conditions – such anxiety perhaps the result of having lost all six previous World Cup meetings with their neighbours.

But while Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul set about their task with quiet confidence, Pakistan grew increasingly ragged.

Rohit ought to have been run out twice in successive overs while he was still in the 30s – misses that proved decidedly costly as the opener cruised to an almost effortless century off 85 balls before perishing for 140.

Pakistan, by contrast, were looking ever more agitated. Wahab Riaz and Sarfraz were unhappy to see the left-armer warned for running on the pitch, while a number of fumbles in the outfield prompted double-teapots aplenty among the men in green as the relentless Rohit accumulated his runs.

Rohit's knock was a clinic in punishing poor bowling, and even his departure only cleared the stage for Kohli to claim a slice of history.

His fluent 77 saw him pass 11,000 ODI runs in his 222nd innings, usurping Sachin Tendulkar as the fastest man to that milestone. The Little Master needed 276.

Kohli's achievement was met with an almighty roar from the hordes of India supporters, who outnumbered their counterparts by perhaps four to one and were encouraged by their captain to become fully swept up in the occasion, in contrast to the message sent to his players.

"Look, I can't tell the fans to think of the game in a particular manner," Kohli had said. "For us, it's a professional approach to the game, which is most important.

"They [fans] should enjoy the atmosphere. They should enjoy the occasion the way they want to and the way it's been enjoyed for years, but the players obviously have to maintain the mindset we have for years approaching any kind of game."

Kohli certainly saw both of those wishes granted. The Bharat Army revelled in a resounding win over their great rivals in the stands, while on the field India's cold, calculated charge towards the World Cup semi-finals continued unchecked.

West Indies are confident Andre Russell will be fit to face Bangladesh at Taunton on Monday in what could prove a pivotal World Cup match.

The all-rounder was forced off the field in Friday's match against England because of a knee problem, and could only bowl two overs.

A fit Russell is a major asset to West Indies and captain Jason Holder said the Jamaican was "progressing quite nicely", with a final decision on his availability to be left until the morning of the match.

Holder allayed concerns over Evin Lewis, who took a blow to the body in the nets, saying the opener had only "a little bruise" and should be fit to play. Lewis has scored just three runs in two innings so the Windies will be relying on him to improve on that, if selected.

Bangladesh have won seven of their last nine ODIs against the Windies, including the last four matches, and Holder said his team would look to counter that recent history.

"If you want to put us in the underdog category, fair enough," Holder said on Sunday. "We've played them quite a bit in the recent past and they've gotten the better of us in recent past. [This is a] different stage, lots at stake for this game. We're all up for it."

Bangladesh are hopeful Mushfiqur Rahim will be able to take part after X-ray and MRI scans gave him the all-clear following a nets scare.

The wicketkeeper-batsman was hit on the hand by a delivery from team-mate Mustafizur Rahman but was "totally fine" on Sunday, according to captain Mashrafe Mortaza.

Bangladesh and West Indies have both won once, lost twice and had a match rained off at the World Cup, leaving five matches to play.

Both are seeking to rediscover early momentum, knowing further defeats at this stage will put their semi-final hopes in serious doubt.

 

TOURNAMENT SO FAR

Bangladesh have shown flashes of their potential, beginning with victory over South Africa before losing a tight match to New Zealand. Their bowlers could not cope with England's brutal batting in Cardiff, however, and that is sure to have alerted the likes of Chris Gayle.

West Indies also started strongly by rolling over Pakistan at Trent Bridge. They fell just short against Australia at the same ground but were crushed by eight wickets against England at Southampton, an outcome that shattered some of the optimistic illusions around their pace attack.

WHAT THEY SAID

Bangladesh captain Mashrafe Mortaza: "We still have five matches left. So you never know. You don't have to think [about] all those five matches. Tomorrow's match is very important. We have to take one by one. It's been ups and downs. But still a lot of matches left. We can make the difference. And we have to believe in it, which I believe that my team is believing."

West Indies captain Jason Holder: "I don't want to sit here and try to perceive what they would come with, but we're open to anything. Traditionally they rely heavily on their spinners. We don't expect them to move too far away from it. It's a smallish ground. I saw the wicket today as well. There's quite a bit of grass on it. We'll see how it plays. But we know what we're expecting in a sense from Bangladesh. And I can't see them being much different from that."


OPTA FACTS

- Bangladesh have lost their last two completed World Cup matches and have not lost three in a row in the same World Cup since the 2007 tournament. The last defeat in that run came against West Indies.

- West Indies all-rounder Andre Russell has an ODI batting strike rate of 130.6, the best of any batsman from any country to score 500 or more runs in the format.

- West Indies batsman Shimron Hetmyer needs 34 runs to reach 1,000 in ODIs. He averages 40.3 with the bat so far in his career.

- Bangladesh paceman Mustafizur Rahman is set to play his 50th ODI. He already has 87 wickets to his name at an average of 23.4 - the best average of anyone to take more than five wickets for Bangladesh.

- Shakib Al Hasan requires 23 more runs to become the second player to score 6,000 men’s ODI runs for Bangladesh, joining Tamim Iqbal who stands on 6,695.

Vijay Shankar was called into emergency action by India following Bhuvneshwar Kumar's injury and claimed the wicket of Imam-ul-Haq with his first ball.

Chasing 337 for victory in the crunch Cricket World Cup clash at Old Trafford, Pakistan were 13-0 with two balls left of the fifth over when Bhuvneshwar was forced to leave the field.

The seamer did not seem in undue discomfort as he walked back to the changing room, with captain Virat Kohli calling on Shankar to send down the remaining deliveries in the over.

And Shankar – selected in the side as a replacement for the injured Shikhar Dhawan – trapped Imam lbw to give India an early breakthrough.

It was just the all-rounder's third ODI wicket in his 10th appearance, having picked up two in a match against Australia in Nagpur in March.

Rohit Sharma's commanding 140 put India firmly on top against Pakistan as Virat Kohli's side racked up 336-5 at a deafening Old Trafford.

Sunday's encounter between the two fierce rivals was the most eagerly anticipated of this Cricket World Cup and Rohit thrived on the grandest of stages.

After India were put in by Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed, Rohit combined in a first-wicket stand of 136 with KL Rahul, who made 57 having been promoted to open due to Shikhar Dhawan's injury-enforced absence.

Once Rahul departed, Rohit brought up his second century of the tournament – following his unbeaten 122 against South Africa – off just 85 deliveries, featuring nine fours and three sixes.

He found the ropes five more times before eventually flicking Hasan Ali to short fine-leg to end his 113-ball stay, a dismissal which allowed Kohli to take centre stage.

A glanced four took the India captain to 11,000 ODI runs, reaching the milestone in his 222nd innings – 54 fewer than previous record holder Sachin Tendulkar.

Kohli made 77 off 65 - bizarrely opting to walk despite getting no top-edge to an attempted hook off Mohammad Amir - as even a late rain interruption did little to halt the momentum of India, seeking to extend their perfect World Cup record against Pakistan to seven wins from seven matches.

Virat Kohli smashed Sachin Tendulkar's record as the quickest man to 11,000 ODI runs during India's Cricket World Cup clash with Pakistan.

The India captain came into Sunday's meeting at a raucous Old Trafford just 57 shy of the landmark, which he reached courtesy of a glanced four off Hasan Ali to help his side to 290-3 having been put in.

Kohli's milestone came up in only his 222nd ODI innings, a remarkable 54 fewer than his compatriot, who needed 276.

Ranked the number-one batsman in the 50-over format, Kohli is the ninth man to reach 11,000 runs and the third from his country after Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly.

 

List of players to score 11,000+ ODI runs:

Sachin Tendulkar, India, 18,426
Kumar Sangakkara, Sri Lanka, 14,234
Ricky Ponting, Australia, 13,704
Sanath Jayasuriya, Sri Lanka, 13,430
Mahela Jayawardene, Sri Lanka, 12,650
Inzamam-ul-Haq, Pakistan, 11,739
Jacques Kallis, South Africa, 11,579
Sourav Ganguly, India, 11,363
Virat Kohli, India, 11,003*

Vijay Shankar was the man to replace the injured Shikhar Dhawan for India, who were put in to bat by Pakistan for their crunch Cricket World Cup encounter at Old Trafford.

Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed called correctly on an overcast morning in Manchester, where Shankar represented India's sole change from the victory over Australia a week ago, with Thursday's encounter against New Zealand washed out.

Dhawan injured his hand in the win over defending champions Australia and is set to miss a couple of weeks so KL Rahul was moved up to open, while Shankar was down to come in at number four.

Pakistan, meanwhile, have made two changes from their last outing – also a loss to Australia – with spin duo Shadab Khan and Imad Wasim returning at the expense of Asif Ali and Shaheen Afridi.

Previous World Cup meetings between these two great rivals have been one-sided, with India winning all six such encounters at the tournament.

Imran Tahir has "single-handedly" made South Africa a strong team in the past two years, according to captain Faf du Plessis.

Spinner Tahir claimed figures of 4-29 from his seven overs as the Proteas claimed their first win at this year's Cricket World Cup by resoundingly beating Afghanistan by nine wickets in Cardiff.

The 40-year-old, who will step down from international cricket after the competition, tore through Afghanistan after the second rain delay, helping restrict them to 125 on a pitch that was not conducive to spin.

"Tahir has probably single-handedly made us a very strong team for the last two years with his ability to get wickets at any stage, his control, so much variation," said Du Plessis after the match.

"Even on a pitch like today when the boundaries are really small and the ball's not spinning much, somehow he still finds a way. That's the difference between the good ones and the great."

The Proteas laboured in reaching a DLS-amended target of 127, with Quinton de Kock scoring 68 off 72 and the struggling Hashim Amla requiring 83 deliveries to make an unbeaten 41 in their 28.4 overs before getting over the line thanks to a huge Andile Phehlukwayo six.

"Naturally, Quinton always plays quite freely but it was important for him to see off the new ball," said Du Plessis. "We needed a 60 or 70-run partnership and we could work on the run rate later.

"It was important for Amla to get among the runs. The next four games, net run rate is not going to play a massive role if you win those games. We need Hashim to score runs for us, so I'm just happy for him to get a not out and get some runs on the board."

Afghanistan replaced Najibullah Zadran, who posted scores of 51 and 43 in their opening two World Cup matches, with Asghar Afghan for the match at Sophia Gardens.

Captain Gulbadin Naib lamented his team's failure to correct their errors from previous matches and suggested Najibullah could return to the line-up for Tuesday's meeting with England at Old Trafford after Afghan was out for a duck.

"We need to play much better cricket. We did well in the opening overs but we repeated the same mistakes again," said Naib.

"We have a lot of batsmen with Rashid Khan coming in at nine, but we need the lower-middle order to push the scoreboard.

"Asghar is a senior player, that's why we gave him a chance. Najib is an outstanding batsman, we'll have him in the team in the upcoming matches."

The ICC will look into why Sri Lanka failed to fulfil post-match media duties after Saturday's Cricket World Cup loss to Australia.

Sri Lanka won the toss put Australia in to bat but Aaron Finch's explosive 153 fired his side to an imposing total of 334-7 at The Oval.

Mitchell Starc then took four wickets as Sri Lanka's initially strong start petered out into an 87-run loss that leaves them with a single victory from five matches.

And with their chances of qualification for the semi-finals now fading fast, Sri Lanka did not send any representatives to a post-match news conference.

An ICC spokesperson said the body will be "taking it up with them".

Sri Lanka are next in action against England at Headingley on Friday.

Quinton de Kock scored 68 as South Africa eased to their first victory of the Cricket World Cup, hammering Afghanistan by nine wickets in Cardiff. 

West Indies A all-rounder Rahkeem Cornwall is harbouring hopes of breaking into the regional side in the near future after being selected for an A team to face India A next month. 

Australia captain Aaron Finch claimed his side could have passed 350 in a win against Sri Lanka that moved them top of the Cricket World Cup's group-stage table.

Opener Finch blasted 153, the joint-highest score of the World Cup so far, as well as equalling his own ODI record tally, as Australia racked up 334-7 at The Oval on Saturday.

And with Mitchell Starc in fine form, taking 4-55 including removing dangerous opener Kusal Perera for 52, Australia had their fourth win from five games as Sri Lanka fell short by 87 runs.

A semi-final spot is now in sight for Australia, with Finch's side next in action against Bangladesh at Trent Bridge on Thursday.

"It was nice to get a couple away early, it's key to my batting and if I'm getting drives away it's a good sign," said Finch after collecting his award for player of the match.

"It's a nice wicket, I've been working on getting my balance spot on from ball one. I've been out first ball a few times so it's key for me to do that.

"We lost some wickets when I was trying to take the game on, maybe a bit too much at times, but the first partnerships were key to getting our score.

"They bowled excellently, we could have got over 350, but they put the pressure on superbly at the end."

Steve Smith made 73 as the duo put on 173 for the third wicket to take the game away from Sri Lanka.

"He gets off strike so easily and scores boundaries so easily," Finch said of Smith. "He just hits the ball in the gap and it's a great skill early in the innings."

In response Sri Lanka were 115 without loss and seemingly on track to chase down a massive score but they were pegged back by Starc as well as Pat Cummins, who took 2-38, and Kane Richardson, whose 3-47 included the scalp of captain Dimuth Karunaratne.

"Finch and Smith batted well, but we came back strongly," said the Sri Lanka skipper, who made 97.

"We started well, but the middle order couldn't capitalise. They had to handle pressure and keep the momentum going.

"Starc and Cummins are world class, we knew what they could do, we had to keep a plan but we didn't.

"We lost couple of games to the rain, now we need to win a couple of games."

Sri Lanka's next game is against hosts England in Leeds on Friday.

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