Windies bank on Pollard's experience in series decider

With the series drawn at 1-1, West Indies bank on captain Kieron Pollard to lead them from the front in the decider against India at the Wankhede Stadium.

West Indies captain Kieron Pollard with Jason Holder during a practice session at Wankhede stadium on Tuesday.   -  Vivek Bendre

These are early days for Kieron Pollard as captain of the West Indies team in white-ball cricket. After an undistinguished start, losing the Twenty20 series 1-2 to Afghanistan in Lucknow recently, the 32-year-old Trinidadian led his team to 3-0 win in the ODI series. All along the all-rounder, who has lit up many matches with his batting and fielding exploits in the IPL, knew that the bigger challenge was to come up against the Indian team.

The outcome of the two Twenty20 matches played at Hyderabad and Thiruvananthapuram has shown that Pollard has given the freedom to his batsmen to play their natural game. After posting a 200-plus target in the first match, the West Indies lost only because of Kohli’s individual brilliance, but it bounced back in the second and scored an emphatic win to draw level the three-match series 1-1.

The focus is now clearly on Pollard, presently the most popular West Indian among the followers of the game in India and particularly in Mumbai, which is sort of second home since his playing days for Mumbai Indians from 2010. He has played 148 matches for the the MI franchise.

READ: Lendl Simmons half-century powers Windies to series-levelling win

After the World Cup in England the West Indies selectors were keen that someone with fresh ideas be given the opportunity to lead the team ahead of next  year’s Twenty20 World Cup in Australia and they chose a player who has substantial experience in Twenty20 leagues.

For long the selectors had placed their faith on Darren Sammy, who led the West Indies in 41 of the 62 Twenty20 matches and became a two-time Twenty20 World Cup winning captain. Sammy passed on the captaincy mantle to Carlos Brathwaite and thereafter Jason Holder held the captaincy reins very briefly 

Pollard has already made a fine impression as captain and this was readily acknowledged by his MI captain Rohit Sharma here on Tuesday. "The West Indies play well as a team and now under the leadership of Kieron Pollard who I know really well,  I know what he would be expecting from his team. It is a different team that we are seeing now.

"He's a very smart thinker of the game. He has a great knowledge about the game and this helps him handle situations on the ground pretty well," Rohit said.

The West Indies coach, Phil Simmons pointed that Pollard is proactive with all players. "He lets them know exactly what he wants from them. He's been good in the sense that they know that he’ll give everything for the team. That’s where he’s started," said Simmons.

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