Nicholas Pooran: From a career-threatening accident to World Cup squad

Four years ago, a road accident in Trinidad almost finished Nicholas Pooran’s cricket career. Now the wicketkeeper-batsman has fought the odds and broken into the West Indies side.

Pooran has featured in some of the top leagues of the world — the Pakistan Super League, the Caribbean Premier League — but admits that the ‘quality of cricket is much better’ in the IPL.   -  AP

Nicholas Pooran is just one ODI and 11 T20Is old, but Kings XI Punjab coach, Mike Hesson, already calls him the ‘young Chris Gayle’.

In the limited opportunities that he has had at the international level, the 23-year-old wicketkeeper-batsman from the West Indies has already shown glimpses of power hitting. Now, as his maiden World Cup beckons, Pooran is chasing his dreams.

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“West Indies has a lot of talented players like it has always had. Obviously, things are shaping well for the World Cup and we are looking forward to it. Hope I do a great job,” Pooran tells Sportstar.

The young gun, who is currently a part of Kings XI in the ongoing Indian Premier League (IPL), will be the second wicketkeeper-batsman in the West Indies outfit  — Shai Hope being the first.

With the World Cup set to begin in England later this month, Pooran understands the challenges of shifting gears to the 50-over format. “I don’t think it is as difficult as people might think it is. As a professional cricketer, it is our job to be adjusting to different conditions,” he says.

“The conditions in England will obviously be colder. The one thing would be to (understand) the conditions and then adjusting (accordingly) to the longer format of the game. This is our job, and this is what we do day in and out, so we have to (realise) the situation and get ready for the World Cup,” Pooran adds.

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Pooran has featured in some of the top leagues of the world — the Pakistan Super League, the Caribbean Premier League — but admits that the ‘quality of cricket is much better’ in the IPL.

“The level of the game here is extremely high. Cricket is like a religion in India, so everyone is engrossed in the game. I know it is ultimately about the game. It’s a two-month long dynamic tournament and the following is very high in India,” Pooran says.

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This season, Pooran has had the opportunity to brush shoulders with his compatriot Chris Gayle and Punjab skipper, Ravichandran Ashwin. “Chris Gayle is a great batsman and obviously it is a learning experience to play alongside him. I get to learn from him every time,” Pooran says.

Pooran rates Ashwin as a ‘very good captain’. “He (Ashwin) leads from the front. It is a great learning experience. Both Ashwin and Gayle are great in their fields and it’s an honour to share the dressing room with them,” Pooran says.

Four years ago, he met with a career-threatening accident, but with determination and hard work, Pooran has fought the odds and broken into the West Indies side. With the selectors showing faith in him, the Trinidadian hopes to feature in the final eleven and contribute to the team’s success.