Defending Hero Caribbean Premier League (CPL) champions Trinbago Knight Riders made it three wins from three in their season-opening home stint after cruising past St Lucia Zouks’ 167 for 5 with seven wickets and 13 balls to spare.

Very different yet equally impressive half-centuries from the explosive Lendl Simmons and ice-cool Denesh Ramdin ensured a mid-range target never really posed much of a threat. Simmons set the tone with a six straight back over Thisara Perera’s head from just the second ball of the innings, with Sunil Narine adding another Hero Maximum as 14 came from the opening over.

With the boundaries coming so regularly, even the loss of Narine and Tion Webster in the space of nine balls, the latter caught at point from Fawad Ahmed’s first ball of the day, did nothing to stem the flow.

Ramdin had been understandably content to play second fiddle to Simmons for the most part but he cut loose once the partnership reached 50, taking Fawad Ahmed for 10 in two balls as 17 runs came from the 11th over of the innings.

Simmons continued the boundary spree with his fifth Hero Maximum, powered down the ground off Kavem Hodge, but the bowler had instant revenge as Simmons ran past a wide to be comprehensively stumped by Andre Fletcher.

The target was by now down to 62 from 52, though, and with Kieron Pollard striding to the middle to join Ramdin there was little reason for optimism from the Zouks.

All that remained to be determined was whether Ramdin could complete his 50 before Pollard finished the game, and back-to-back fours through midwicket and point took him to 47 and the victory target down to seven at the start of the 18th over.

He duly got to the landmark with a clip for two that brought the scores level, and the Zouks’ day to forget ended with a wide outside off to hand TKR the winning run.

The Zouks innings, just as in their opening match against Guyana Amazon Warriors, was given a stunning start by Rahkeem Cornwall. He followed up a 14-ball 36 in that game with 33 from 12.

His departure, trapped plumb in front on the sweep by Narine, brought an inevitable slowing of the rate.

Fletcher struggled to cut loose in a frustrating 32-ball stay that brought him 26 runs while Najibullah Zadran’s promising cameo was ended at 26 from 17 balls when he picked out Javon Searles on the long-off boundary from a Mohammad Hasnain slower ball.

Daren Sammy smashed back-to-back sixes in his 16 from 13, while John Campbell did start to find the boundary towards the back end of the innings but once again it felt like the Zouks had failed to take full advantage of the early momentum the innings had been given by their big opener.

 

 

Trinbago Knight Riders captain expressed delight with the contribution of multiple players as the team maintained a perfect start to the new CPL season with a 7-wickets win over St Lucia Zouks on Sunday.

The win added to victories over the Jamaica Tallawahs and St Kitts and Nevis Patriots, marked a third in a row for TKR who bowled off the season at the Queens Park Oval.  Powered by 50s from Denesh Ramdin (50) and Lendl Simmons (63), TKR comfortably hunted down St Lucia’s first innings total of 167 for 5.  Simmons hits five boundaries and five sixes for his total, while Ramdin reached the boundary five times only once clearing the ropes.

Against the Tallawahs the team had outstanding contributions from Sunil Narine and Tion Webster.  Jimmy Neesham and Pollard himself were the ones to deliver for the home team in the opening match.  Pollard, who took over captain duties from Dwayne Bravo at the start of the tournament believes the varied contributions so far is a good sign for the defending champions.

“That’s what cricket is about, it’s a team sport.  We know in T20 cricket in each and every game the same person is going to do it.  We spoke about it in the dressing room and every game can be someone else.  Last game was Tion Webster the youngster and Lendl has been searching for runs,” Pollard said following the match.

The TKR captain also expressed satisfaction with the team’s position in the early standings.

“I think it was crucial for us…playing three games in six days and the intensity of T20 cricket and playing at 12.  I thought the heat the better of us at the start and we were flat but we spoke about it and just asked for one big push.”

Windies batsman Kieron Pollard is poised to become the new captain of the regional team in both the T20 and ODI formats, numerous reports have claimed.

The 32-year-old Pollard, long thought of as a viable alternative for the post, is set to replace Jason Holder as head of the ODI team and Carlos Brathwaite as skipper of the T20 squad.  Holder was appointed the head of the regional team in 2014, with Brathwaite appointed as leader in the shorter format in 2016 after an outstanding performance at the World Cup.

 Neither captain has performed particularly well, however, with Holder losing 24 of 54 matches played and Brathwaite managing just a 33 percent win ratio.

Pollard has, however, not been a regular participant for the Windies squad in recent years, particularly in the ODI format where he last appeared for the team in 2016.  The player had, however, been named as a reserve for the 2019 World Cup but failed to make an appearance, as the regional team managed just one win and an eighth-place finish. 

Pollard made his T20 debut on June 2008 against Australia but was overlooked for several years after disputes with the regional board. He was, however, re­called to the West Indies team for the T20 internationals against Indian last month.

 

Sacked interim West Indies coach Richard Pybus believes the regional team was on the verge of something special before his abrupt dismissal at the hands of the new Cricket West Indies (CWI) administration a few months ago.

Pybus, who was previously held the role of director of cricket, was controversially appointed to the post by former CWI boss Dave Cameron, in December of last year.  Despite the ferocious debate, however, Pybus got off to a flying start after overseeing the team to a 2-1 win in a three-Test series against England.  The Windies also held England to a 2-2 draw the preceding three-match One-Day International.

Following the defeat of Cameron in the CWI elections by the Ricky Skerritt led team, however, Pybus was replaced with interim coach Floyd Reifer.  The move was particularly controversial with the World Cup only a few weeks away and captain Jason Holder later requesting that the change be made after the tournament.  

“Of all the sides I have coached around the world, this group was fantastic. We had a very good understanding as a collective group,” Pybus told the Jamaica Gleaner.

“The attitude was right, and we had mutual respect and belief as to what we wanted to achieve as a whole, and this team was ready to start winning,” he added.

“We had some really good guys in our back-room staff, guys such as Vasbert Drakes, Mushtaq Ahmed, Toby Radford, and Esuan Crandon. All these guys did an excellent job. The players responded to them well as most of them are well known around the region.”

“I have had persons tell me that they loved the way the team played in that England series with passion and aggression,” Pybus said.

 “That is the philosophy that we wanted across the board, and yes, I am disappointed that I was not able to carry on, but that is the nature of a democratic process, and these things do happen.”

 

Windies skipper Jason Holder admits there is no easy solution to the batting afflictions currently suffered by the regional team, following yet another disappointing display against India in the second and final Test.

The regional team found themselves on the wrong end of a 257 runs defeat at the hands of India, on Monday, which followed a 318 loss in the first Test last week.  The result meant the Windies failed to win a match against India for the entire tour.

Both Test matches featured a substandard batting display from the hosts, who for example struggled to get 100 in the second innings of the first Test and 117 in the first innings of the second match.  India pace bowler Jaspit Bumrah proved to be particularly effective after taking 13 wickets in two Tests at an average of 9.23. 

"I’m obviously disappointed, we didn't play a complete game of cricket in any of the games. We need to put up the scores and fight out those tough periods.  It’s a tough question on how to fix the batting. It’s an individual thing,” Holder said.

“We need to take ownership of our performances,” he added.

The captain was quit to admit that he did not believe the team had a lot of choices as it relates to outside batting talent with which to improve the squad.

"The situation we are in the Caribbean...we are not really spoiled for choices in terms of batsmen coming through,” Holder said.

"We've got to put things in place and to make sure we keep developing players and make sure players are doing the right things to be successful.”

 

 

 Windies interim coach Floyd Reifer believes it is crucial for the team to learn to dig deeper during its spells at the crease if they are to avoid a whitewash against world number one ranked India in the ongoing Test series.

The regional team found itself on the wrong end of a massive 318 runs defeat in the first Test at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua.  The match, perhaps worryingly for the hosts featured and astounding second innings collapse that saw India pacer Jaspit Bumrah claim 5 for 7 as the team collapsed for 100.  On that occasion, the team’s top five batsmen combined for a total of 13 runs.

“We have to do a better job of understanding situations and fight harder through the tough spells. We have to help each other at the crease and dig deeper because this India side is a good one, so we have to improve in all areas, especially our batting,” said Reifer.

 “We have to keep working hard. We have to see off the new ball and build partnerships, and those guys that get starts have to go on to make hundreds. Once we score runs, it will put us in a position to win the game,” he added.

The Windies will play India in the second Test at Sabina Park on Friday.

Retired Windies pacer Fidel Edwards has extended his association with English County Cricket club Hampshire.

The 37-year-old pace bowler, who joined the club in 2015, recently signed another one-year contract, which will keep him at the Ageas Bowl until the end of 2020.  The player is coming off another strong season for the club after taking 47 wickets at an average of 23.55, including four five-wicket hauls, with three Championship fixtures remaining.

"I'm very pleased to have signed for my sixth season at Hampshire, which has become my second home," Edwards said. "Hopefully next year we can push on further and I'll be trying my best to help make it a successful season for the club."

Hampshire Director of Cricket Giles White believes the bowler will continue to be an excellent addition to the squad.

"Fidel has been fantastic for us since joining in 2015 and this year he's excelled once again. He's an important part of our squad and a great character to have in and around the group - we're delighted to welcome him back for another year."

Edwards played 55 Tests and 50 ODIs for the West Indies.

 

Windies skipper Jason Holder was adamant he had no issues with the team’s selection, despite a 318-run mauling at the hands of India in the first Test.

Ahead of the series, the omission of spinner Rahkeem Cornwall had furrowed the brows of several fans and pundits alike, following a string of impressive performances at the regional and A-team level.  Some took exception to the inclusion of pace bowler Miguel Cummings, at the expense of the all-rounder Cornwall who they believed could have troubled the Indian line-up.

Holder, however, insisted that there was no issue with the decision to include four fast bowlers in the team’s line-up, which had proven fruitful in a recent series.

 "No, I think team selection was good. We had won the first series early in this year with four fast bowlers and it worked for us,”

“It was difficult for me to change the winning bowling combination. It is a matter of time, sometimes it works sometimes it doesn't."

West Indies will now face India in the second Test of the series at Sabina Park in Kingston from August 30.

West Indies legend Sir Vivian Richards believes veteran T20 player Kieron Pollard would make a better option for team captain than current skipper Carlos Brathwaite.

The 31-year-old Brathwaite was named captain of the squad in 2016, following the controversial dismal of World Cup-winning captain Darren Sammy and his heroics against England in the final.  The Barbadian has, however, struggled since taking charge of the unit, winning just 11 and losing 17 of his matches in charge of the team for a 36 percent win rate.

Despite being out of the squad for a couple of years, Pollard has continued to be one of the game’s most reliable players, recently returning to score 115 in a three-match series against India.  The Windies, however, lost the series 3-0.

“Given his experience in that format, I would have liked to see Kieron Pollard as the best choice for our T20 captain. But he is not, for there are some reasons for that. During the CPL, he is the best with the bat and his fielding talent,” Richards recently told the India Times.

“There is no disrespect to Carlos Brathwaite, but he probably would have been part of the team still. It was a political scenario after Darren Sammy exited the captaincy. Brathwaite is magnificent as an individual and highly competitive, but I know a lot of players in that team who believe Pollard would have been a great choice as captain.”

 

 

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is not taking seriously, an email which purported there was an imminent threat to the Indian cricket team currently in the West Indies on tour.

The Indian cricket team has already gone through three T20 internationals and three One Day Internationals in the Caribbean, with the first match of a Test series set for Antigua on August 22.

The BCCI have contacted authorities in Antigua regarding the threat and will be beefing up security, though the threat is being viewed as a hoax.

“We have briefed the home ministry and shared the email. The embassy in Antigua has also been contacted and briefed. The Mumbai police has also been informed and the security of the Indian team in the West Indies has been beefed up," BCCI CEO Rahul Johri had told Indian media.

Regional all-rounder Rahkeem Cornwall is confident of making an impact for the West Indies in the Test format, having performed consistently at the four-day format for several seasons.

The selection of the 26-year-old Cornwall raised a few brows earlier this month, as many doubt the athlete’s physical conditioning for the longest format. 

Regionally, however, there is very little doubting Cornwall’s record.  The all-rounder was the leading wicket-taker, with 54, in last season’s regional first-class tournament and followed that up with a haul of 23 wickets in List A and first-class games against England Lions earlier in 2018.  In the recent series against the touring India A, Cornwall took an impressive nine wickets in six matches.

"I believe the Test format suits my game because of the consistency a player needs over a long period of time to be successful, and I've enjoyed that challenge so far in my career playing first-class cricket," Cornwall told the Cricket West Indies website.

"The feeling [on getting called up] is great - it's something I've been pushing to achieve for a long time,” he added.

"I've been putting in a lot of work over the last couple of months. I've always pushed myself. I feel I can go on and I think the on-field results I've achieved have shown the progress I'm making."

If selected, Cornwall could make his debut against India when the series bowls off at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium on Thursday.

West Indies legend Sir Vivian Richards has admitted to feeling let down by the Ricky Skerritt-led Cricket West Indies (CWI), following its controversial decision to dismiss the coaching staff ahead of the ICC World Cup.

Less than a month after taking the reins of the association from the four-term president Dave Cameron, the decision was taken to dismiss interim coach Richard Pybus and the entire selection panel.

 The decision was particularly debatable with the ICC World Cup just a few weeks away and the interim-coach and team having put on an outstanding performance against England, the world’s number one team, and eventual World Cup winners only a month prior.

Despite being a huge supporter of the Skerritt slate ahead of it being elected, Richards strongly believed it was a major misstep.

“To be fair I did put my everything behind my support for the individual who is at the helm, but I wasn’t happy with the so-called coming into that particular position and just the way in which subtle little changes were made to get certain individuals in place for them to be managers and coaches of the tour to the World Cup.  I didn’t like the start and I made my point, Richards said.

“I didn’t like the start. I am hoping that the finish is much better than the start.”

West Indies legend Sir Vivian Richards insists that star batsman Chris Gayle could be allowed to retire on his own terms provided he continues to perform at a high level.

The 39-year-old Windies star was thought to have retired following the third One Day International (ODI) against India earlier this week.  Ahead of the match, talk in some quarters surrounded the batsman continued presence in the team, particularly after a poor performance at the ICC World Cup and a combined total of 15 in the two prior games.

The big left-hander, however, gave a stirring response to his critics with a smashing 72 off just 41 deliveries.  In addition, Gayle insisted that he had not announced his retirement following the series, creating a conundrum for the selectors in upcoming ODI series. West Indies bowling legend Curtly Ambrose had suggested that Gayle should step aside to allow the team to focus on new talent, with the next World Cup in mind.  Richards, however, believes Gayle could still be a valuable contributor to the Windies squad.

“Over the years Chris has been a brilliant batsman.  The only worrying thing I have would have with Chris now is if we cannot see the performances that we did in Port of Spain,” Richards said in an exclusive SportsMax Zone interview.  

“We can agree that one particular thing is that he is not as mobile in the field as when he was younger but if he can put in those types of performances, that in my opinion would suggest that we can still have him around to add that type of experience,” he added.

“I love to see class, I appreciate class and Chris brings this.  If he cannot perform like he did on a consistent basis well then we can start thinking other things like whether he should be there or not.”    

Windies captain Jason Holder has bemoaned the team’s inability to take crucial chances following yet another loss to India in the second One Day International (ODI) at Queen’s Park Oval.

India took a 2-0 lead, on the back of a brilliant 114 from Virat Kohli, after securing a 6-wickets win via the DLS method on Tuesday.  Anchored by 72 from talisman Chris Gayle the Windies put up a competitive 240 and got off to a good start after dismissing Rohit Sharma with 25 runs on the board.

  Kohli, batting on 11, was surprised by a Keemo Paul with a delivery that went past him as he tried to make room to play on the leg side and caught an inside edge, he was, however, dropped behind by Shai Hope.

"We have got to hold our chances and we didn't hold them today. [Kohli] made us pay for it," Holder said.

"Credit to him he batted really well and he won the game for India in the end.  They got off to a really good start and so did we. I think it was a really, really good wicket for cricket. Conditions got a little tougher in the afternoon after the rain fell. The ball was a bit wet and the outfield was obviously very wet, too. It didn't work for us today."

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