West Indies head coach Phil Simmons has defended the decision to exclude Roston Chase from the team’s opening match in the ICC T20 World Cup against England on Saturday and insists that they did not misread the pitch before selecting the team.

In a rematch of the 2016 T20 World Cup final when the West Indies emerged victoriously, England bowled the defending champions out for 55 with Chris Gayle top-scoring with 13. England’s spinners took six of the 10 wickets to fall before their batters achieved the winning target in 8.2 overs.

The West Indies were unable to build partnerships and were missing the role of an anchor that Chase demonstrated while scoring an unbeaten 54 in the West Indies’ final warm-up match against Afghanistan. Playing anchor was something demonstrated he could do well during the 2021 Hero CPL season when he was the top scorer with 446 runs at an incredible average of 49.55.

When England batted, Akeal Hosein, the only spinner selected, was the best of the bowlers with 2-24.

Chase, a more than useful bowler, would have also given the West Indies another bowling option as a spinner in the match where spinners took eight of the 14 wickets to fall, the best of them being England’s Adil Rashid, who boasted ridiculous figures of four wickets for two runs from his four overs.

Still, Coach Simmons speaking with the media on Sunday, insisted that the team they selected was the right one for the conditions.

“I don’t think we misread the pitch. Yes, the spinners got some wickets but as you go along you have seen that the pitch was a good pitch,” he said during a media conference from Dubai on Sunday where the West Indies are preparing to face South Africa on Tuesday.

“You have to try and make the most of the first six or seven overs and then you have to fight until you get to the latter part. I think when you assess the pitch, you assess the squad we thought that the 11 that went into the game was the right squad.

“Yes, Chase got some runs in the game before but when were at the ground we assessed and we thought it was the right combination.”

 

 

Virat Kohli will not press the panic button after Pakistan defeated his India side in a 10-wicket thumping at the T20 World Cup.

India had lost just one of their last eight T20I meetings with Pakistan while they had collected five successive T20 World Cup wins but Azam's side prevailed in their Super 12 Group 2 opener.

Kohli's 57 – his 29th half-century in the format in which he is the leading run scorer in history (3,216) – guided India to 151-7.

However, India had lost all eight games defending 160 or lower and that trend continued Sunday.

Babar Azam and Mohammed Rizwan combined for a 152-run opening stand, the highest opening partnership against India and the second-highest in the history of the competition, to see Pakistan to a maiden victory over India in the competition.

Yet despite conceding Pakistan outclassed his side, Kohli insisted India would not begin to worry in the early stages of the tournament.

"We did not execute the things that we wanted to but credit is certainly due – they outplayed us today," Kohli said at the post-match presentation.

"When you lose three early it's very difficult to come back, especially when you know the dew is coming. They were very professional with the bat as well. 

"Hitting through the line was not as easy in the first half as it seemed in the Pakistan innings, so when you know the conditions can change, you need 10-20 extra runs. 

"But some quality bowling from Pakistan didn't let us get off the blocks. We're certainly not a team that presses the panic button, it's the start of the tournament, not the end."

Meanwhile, Azam – who is the leading scorer in the last three years of T20I cricket with 1,241 runs – credited Shaheen Afridi's excellent opening bowling spell in which he managed 3-31, while also praising his opening partner Rizwan.

"We executed our plans well and the early wickets were very helpful," Azam said after Kohli had spoken. 

"Shaheen's wickets gave us a lot of confidence and the spinners dominated as well. The plan with Rizwan is always to keep it simple. We tried to get deep in the crease and from about the 8th over the dew came in and the ball came on nicely. 

"This is just the start, we have the confidence to build on now. It will remain match by match for us. 

"The pressure on us wasn't that much - we weren't thinking of the record against India at all. I only wanted to back all our players who've been preparing well. 

"When you play tournaments before a big World Cup, it helps and our players came in with a lot of confidence because of that."

Babar Azam and Mohammed Rizwan both scored half-centuries as Pakistan recorded their first ever T20 World Cup win over India with a 10-wicket triumph.

India had lost just one of their last eight T20I meetings with Pakistan while they had collected five successive T20 World Cup wins – the joint longest streak in the competition.

But Shaheen Afridi (3-31) gave his country early hope as he struck twice to remove both Rohit Sharma for a first-ball duck and KL Rahul (three), with Hasan Ali (2-44) dismissing Suryakumar Yadav (11) to leave India 36-3 at the end of the powerplay.

However, captain Virat Kohli (57) – who has scored the most runs in men's T20I history (3,216) - responded emphatically as he registered his 29th half-century in the format to lift his side to 151-7 at the end of their 20-over allocation.

Kohli's side had lost all eight T20Is in which they posted a first-innings total under 160 since 2018 and that trend looked set to continue as Azam (68 not out) and Rizwan (79 not out) enjoyed a century opening stand inside 13 overs.

The openers motored on as they managed the highest opening partnership ever against India, Azam taking 40 balls to reach his half-century and Rizwan taking one delivery more before the former sealed victory with 13 balls to spare in their first Super 12 Group 2 game.

India's openers struggle

Rohit, who has hit the second-most sixes in the history of the competition (133), offered India experience at the top of the order but his tournament got off to the worst start as he was removed lbw for a golden duck.

His opening partner, Rahul, did not last much longer as the Punjab Kings captain disappointed following warm-up scores of 51 and 39 after his blistering 98 not out in his final IPL 2021 game.

Magical Azam continues remarkable form

In the last three years, no one has scored more T20I runs than Azam's 1,241. Kohli is second on the list, with 1,050.

The Pakistan leader produced a captain's knock to see his side over the line in a famous victory, perfectly kick-starting their World Cup campaign as he smashed six fours and two maximums for his 68.

Charith Asalanka starred and Bhanuka Rajapaksa celebrated his birthday with a half-century as Sri Lanka beat Bangladesh by five wickets in the T20 World Cup.

Mohammad Naim (62 off 52 balls) and Mushfiqur Rahim (57 not out from 37) got the Tigers up to 171-4 after they were put in the battle of the qualifiers at Sharjah Cricket Stadium on Sunday.

Sri Lanka were in trouble on 79-4 when Wanindu Hasaranga fell after Shakib Al Hasan (2-17) dismissed Pathum Nissanka and Avishka Fernando in the ninth over.

Asalanka and Rajapaksa came to the rescue with a fifth-wicket stand of 86, setting up a victory in their opening Super 12 game that was sealed with seven balls to spare.

Opener Asalanka returned to form with a brilliant unbeaten 80 from 49 balls, while Rajapaksa benefited from two gifts from Liton Das on his 30th birthday.

The left-hander from Colombo was dropped twice by Das and capitalised on those let-offs by scoring 53 off 31 balls before departing in the penultimate over.

Sri Lanka's highest successful run chase moved them level on points with leaders England and Australia in Group 1, also halting a run of three consecutive T20 defeats against the Tigers.

 

TIgers batsmen Naim and Mushfiqur show their teeth

Naim and Mushfiqur played superbly to get the Tigers up to a good total after they were 56-2 in the eighth over when the dangerous Shakib departed, having been cleaned up by Chamika Karunaratne (1-12) for only 10.

Opener Naim brought up his fourth T20I half-century – and a second of the tournament – off 44 balls, finding the rope six times before he was caught and bowled by Binura Fernando. Mushfiqur struck two sixes in an enterprising, classy knock as he brought out his full repertoire of strokes.

Asalanka steps up, Rajapaksa grateful for Das gifts

Sri Lanka had been going along well on 54-1 at the end of the powerplay, but there was work to do when the Rajapaksa joined Asalanka at the crease.

Das spilled the birthday boy in the deep when he was on 14 and then 23 as Bangladesh felt the heat. Asalanka never looked troubled in his maiden T20I half-century, hitting five sixes and as many fours, with Rajapaksa clearing the rope three times in an impressive run chase.

The Cricket West Indies (CWI) Selection Panel announced the squads for the upcoming Best v Best men’s red-ball matches.

The panel named 24 players for two three-day fixtures, which will be played at the Coolidge Cricket Ground on October 27-29 and November 1-3. The two teams will be led by Kraigg Brathwaite and Jermaine Blackwood.

The players will use these matches as preparations ahead of West Indies’ forthcoming tour to Sri Lanka for two Test matches following the ICC T20 World Cup. The team will depart from Antigua on November 6 and the tour will run until December 4. The full tour squad and schedule will be announced at a later date. The series is the second of six series, three at home and three away, that West Indies will play in the 2021-2023 ICC World Test Championship after drawing the first Betway Test Series against Pakistan in August.

 “These Best v Best matches are a critical part of the Test team’s preparation for the series in Sri Lanka. For a number of players, it will be the only serious red ball cricket they will have since the Betway Test series against Pakistan and prior to going on this tour. So, it helps to get them back into the groove of the red-ball format and gives the Selection Panel an indication of the players’ readiness for the tour,” said Lead Selector Roger Harper.

SQUAD A: Kraigg Brathwaite (Captain), Shamarh Brooks, Rahkeem Cornwall, Joshua Da Silva, Shannon Gabriel, Shai Hope, Kyle Mayers, Veerasammy Permaul, Jayden Seales, Preston McSween, Nial Smith and Jeremy Solozano.

 SQUAD B: Jermaine Blackwood (Captain), Nkrumah Bonner, Jahmar Hamilton, Chemar Holder, Kavem Hodge, Alzarri Joseph, Imran Khan, Shayne Moseley, Kieran Powell, Raymon Reifer, Kemar Roach and Jomel Warrican.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews is hopeful a crowd of at least 80,000 will be able to attend the Boxing Day Ashes Test at the MCG.

Melbourne residents this week celebrated coming out of a sixth lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.

No city in the world has been locked down more than Melbourne, but further easing of restrictions have been mapped out by the Victorian government.

There is optimism that there will be a huge attendance when Australia do battle with England in the third Test in two months' time, provided vaccination rates continue to increase.

Andrews said on Sunday: "I want to see 80,000 plus people at the Boxing Day Test on day one, that's what I want to see.

"We are determined to deliver that. It won't be easy. I think selling the tickets will be pretty easy."

A crowd of 78,113 for the Anzac Day AFL match last April was the biggest at the MCG, which can hold in excess of 100,000 people, since the start of the pandemic.

West Indies captain Kieron Pollard said the T20 World Cup defending champions would have to take a wretched performance against England on the chin.

A desperate 55 all out from West Indies allowed England to sprint to a six-wicket victory in Dubai, with this Group 1 clash a rematch of the 2016 final.

England's small measure of revenge for that heartbreaking defeat stemmed from West Indies posting the second-lowest T20 international total by a Test-playing nation.

Pollard said: "Being bowled out for 50-odd as an international team is never acceptable but we'll come back stronger."

He explained: "We didn't bat well and it's disappointing to start our tournament like that, being defending champions.

"But we have to accept it and take responsibility for what happened out there. We have to put this game to bed and move on.

"We just need to go back and look at the way we've performed and see if we can maybe find a medium as to how we approach it. It's very important we forget a game like this. For us, it's pretty simple – accept and move on."

Pollard sought to find a positive by praising the "intensity in the field" of his players as England chased their small target.

An England victory was all but a formality, however, and for Adil Rashid it was a day to remember, England's spinner taking 4-2 from 2.2 overs.

Rashid said afterwards: "I don't think we could have asked for a better start. We bowled exceptionally well and everything went to plan."

He added: "As a bowling unit, we know we have five or six match-winners and on any given day anyone can come on and get wickets. We don't want to look too far ahead and we'll take it a game at a time. Whatever's in front of us, we'll play that."

West Indies are next in action on Tuesday, when they play South Africa, while England must wait until Wednesday for a clash with Bangladesh.

England gained a measure of revenge by bowling sorry West Indies out for a paltry 55 as they thrashed the holders by six wickets in their first game of the T20 World Cup.

The Windies beat England in the 2016 World Cup final but humiliatingly crumbled to their second-lowest T20 International total in a totally one-sided Group 1 clash at the Dubai International Stadium on Saturday.

England had never beaten West Indies in their five previous T20 World Cup matches, however, they ended that record as the defending champions' embarrassing innings was over in 14.2 overs.

Adil Rashid claimed stunning best T20I figures of 4-2 after fellow spinner Moeen Ali (2-17) produced a magnificent opening spell.

Tymal Mills was also hugely impressive in his first T20I for his country since February 2017, taking 2-17 as England were flawless in the field, holding some excellent catches.

Chris Gayle (13) was the only Windies batter to reach double figures, with Chris Woakes and Chris Jordan claiming a wicket apiece.

Akeal Hosein claimed 2-24 as Kieron Pollard's side showed great character in the field after being blown away by the England bowlers, but Jos Buttler made an unbeaten 24 as England sealed an emphatic victory with 70 balls to spare.

A crushing win for Eoin Morgan's side put them top of the group, level on points with Australia.

 

Moeen sets the tone, Rashid puts Windies out of their misery

Eoin Morgan's decision to open the bowling with Moeen proved to be a masterstroke, as he removed Lendl Simmons and Shimron Hetmyer after taking a great catch for Woakes - picked with Mark Wood out due to an ankle injury - to see the back of Evin Lewis 

Moeen bowled 18 dot balls as he bowled four overs straight before Mills' pace and variety caused all sorts of problems. Rashid gave another demonstration that he is a world-class performer with the ball, claiming his four wickets off only 14 balls as the Windies folded.

Pitiful holders humbled

West Indies had no answer to the skill of the England bowlers as they posted the second-lowest T20I score by a member nation and the lowest by a Test-playing side.

While Morgan led England superbly with his clear thinking in the field, the Windies lost their heads with some poor shots and must regroup ahead of meeting with South Africa on Tuesday.

Virat Kohli says Hardik Pandya can make a big impact for India as a specialist batsman in the T20 World Cup as "you cannot create overnight" what the India all-rounder brings at number six.

Pandya continues to be troubled by a long-standing back injury but will be in the India side for their first match of the World Cup against fierce rivals Pakistan at the Dubai International Stadium on Sunday.

India captain Kohli is backing Pandya to deliver with the bat for the tournament favourites despite his lack of runs in the Indian Premier League.

Kohli said: "Honestly, I feel that Hardik presently with his physical condition is getting better in terms of being prepared to bowl at least two overs for us at a certain stage in this tournament.

"We strongly feel that we can make the most of the opportunity at hand until the time he starts bowling, we've considered a couple of other options to chip in for an over or two.

"So, we're not bothered about that at all. What he brings at that number six spot is something you cannot create overnight."

Pakistan have lost all five of their T20 World Cup matches against India - including the final in the inaugural edition of the tournament in 2007.

Yet Babar Azam's side are on an 11-match T20 winning streak in the United Arab Emirates and the skipper says they can get the better of their biggest rivals in their Super 12 Group 2 opener.

Babar said: "We have forgotten what happened in the past and we are trying to focus on the future. We want to use our ability and confidence on the day of the match so that we can get a better result.

"Records are meant to be broken. The matches between Pakistan and India are always full of intensity so we need to perform well in all three departments of the game.

"The boys are excited to play the World Cup and we have a crucial match on Sunday. A winning impact is necessary and then we will go match by match."

South Africa captain Temba Bavuma insisted there were positives to take from his team's opening defeat to Australia at the T20 World Cup.

The Proteas fell to a five-wicket defeat in the first match of the Super 12 in Abu Dhabi, marking a reversal in the two teams' fortunes in the shortest format.

Bavuma's men went into the tournament having won each of their last three T20I series for the loss of just two matches.

By contrast, Australia have tasted defeat in their last five series.

But Aaron Finch's side had little difficulty chasing down a target of 119 as South Africa were left to rue a disappointing batting performance.

A series of timely boundaries from Marcus Stoinis got Australia over the line, but Bavuma was at least pleased with the spirit his team displayed in taking the contest to the last over.

"We always talk about us being resilient and there was an opportunity," Bavuma said.

"Big effort from the guys to get us to the last over. We just didn't get enough with the bat and it was always going to be tough for the bowlers, and it was a good effort from them to get it to this stage.

"As much as it was a day that didn't go to plan, we can take positives. We showed fight. We spoke during the half-time that we won't give up."

South Africa will look to bounce back against West Indies on Tuesday.

Australia turned the formbook on its head to start the T20 World Cup Super 12 stage with a five-wicket victory over South Africa.

South Africa have lost just two matches across their three T20I series in 2021, while Australia have suffered defeat in each of their past five series.

But Australia's decision to put the Proteas in to bat proved an astute one, Josh Hazlewood (2-19) leading a seam attack that got plenty out of the pitch while spinner Adam Zampa took 2-21.

Aiden Markram (40) provided the most substantial contribution to South Africa's underwhelming 118-9 and it was he who set in motion an unexpected fightback that brought a tense finish.

Despite losing Aaron Finch (0) and David Warner (14) early, Australia looked to be cruising at 80-3, however, Markram's magnificent diving catch broke Steve Smith (35) and Glenn Maxwell's (18) partnership by removing the former.

Tabraiz Shamsi then bowled Maxwell for his 50th T20I wicket three balls later to give South Africa further hope, but timely boundaries from Marcus Stoinis (24 not out) got Australia over the line with two balls to spare and off the mark in Group 1.

 

West Indies captain, Kieron Pollard, says the team’s famous victory over England at the 2016 World Cup still serves as motivation as they look to open their title defense against the same opponents on Saturday.

In the 2016 final, the Caribbean team needed an improbable 19 off the final over before Carlos Brathwaite famously smacked four 6s off Ben Stokes to give the team its second world title.

Although Brathwaite is not in the squad this time around and admitting that things are not quite the same, Pollard insists the moment is a good reference point, which serves as an example of triumphing despite heavy odds in adversity.

“What Carlos did in those four deliveries, in that last over, it’s unbelievable.  It’s something we saw as a team last night and it brought goosebumps back to us,” Pollard told members of the media on Friday.

“For us to be in that situation and get over the line, it shows that never say die attitude.  As a team, we hope to replicate winning the entire tournament, and those kinds of moments, they stick with us.  Hopefully, we can go out and play good enough cricket to get back in that kind of position, so we can be in another final and have some memories going forward,” he added.

“I don’t think it will have much bearing on the game (against England) because it’s another game of cricket and that situation was totally different it being a final, but we are looking to come out and give a good account of ourselves.”

 

 

 

West Indies captain Kieron Pollard is confident the team has done enough work to address concerns surrounding an inability to rotate the strike ahead of the start of the T20 World Cup.

The Caribbean side will open the tournament on Saturday against England but despite being defending champions will have several questions to answer.  One of those recurring issues has been the ratio of the team’s use of traditional hitting versus rotating the strike with singles.

In the past, the Windies have had success with their power-hitting game, winning the tournament twice in just such a fashion.  In recent years, however, the team has shown a propensity to get bogged down looking for boundaries.  Pollard, however, insists that the team has been looking to address the issue, but were at the same time not looking to get away from their style of play.

“A lot of work has been done behind the scenes.  The guys have worked tirelessly to get to where we are right now in terms of trying to cover our bases,” Pollard told members of the media on Friday.

“I’ve said before that we try to keep our strengths and work on our weaknesses.  We’ve accepted certain things and gone back behind the scenes and hopefully, we will see a difference,” he added.

“In terms of the two games that we played, guys didn’t show that intent and different things might have come out but we are confident that the guys have done what is needed and will look to hit the ground running come the first game.”

West Indies captain Kieron Pollard believes Fabian Allen missing out on the T20 World Cup because of injury is a major blow to the West Indies ahead of the campaign to defend the title they won in 2016.

Andre Russell could be a game-time decision for the West Indies as they get ready for their opening match in the ICC T20 World Cup in Dubai on Saturday.

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