Back from hell, Pooran regenerates his case

Trinidadian left-handers carry a certain spark and Nicholas Pooran, who fought a career-threatening accident three years ago, turned a lot of heads in his comeback knock on Sunday.

West Indies' Nicholas Pooran executes a switch-hit during his half-century knock against India in the third T20 in Chennai. Windies' captain Carlos Brathwaite summed up Pooran's performance stressing on the emotional side of the Caribbeans.   -  K. Pichumani

Three years ago, a road accident in Trinidad almost finished Nicholas Pooran’s cricket career. The 23-year-old wicketkeeper-batsman had sustained injuries to his knees and ankle.

On Sunday, the southpaw smashed his maiden T20I half-century — an unbeaten 25-ball 53 — in the third and final rubber against India at the M. A. Chidambaram Stadium here to regenerate his case in the international cricket sphere.

Windies, rebuilding and reforming, needed a smart batter in the middle-overs to balance the lineup. Pooran, playing in his second game of the series, ticked all boxes. He can hold when needed, and use the crease — like the modern-day cricketers do — to swing 360 degrees; an industry-standard these days.

Among the boundaries, one six (off leggie Yuzvendra Chahal) and two fours (off pacers Bhuvneshwar Kumar and K. Khaleel Ahmed) came from switch-hits.

Windies T20I skipper Carlos Brathwaite summed up his performance stressing on the emotional side of the Caribbeans.

Caribbean style of batsmanship

“As Caribbean people, we are very expressive, very positive and very emotional. And when we can channel our emotions, our expressions, our intent in a positive manner for long enough, then our good skills come to each and every person in the squad.

“I want you to realise it wasn't just his big hitting. He played some reverse scoops and he paced his innings very well. Obviously, the sixes will take the highlight, but let's not forget how slowly he started. Getting the pace of the wicket, lining up the bowlers and then choosing the right time to strike,” said Brathwaite at the end of the game.

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Brathwaite is aware of the consistency issue in the side. Having hit four sixes off Ben Stokes in the last over to guide Windies to the World T20 title two years ago, he has the psychological strength to cross the line.

“And you know, as a team, that's what we have. The ability for players to take the game away from the opposition. And play a knock like Pooran did. The challenge is to do that on a more consistent basis. We know we have two, three or four match winners in the side who can blow any team away.

“What we don't want, is that when a match-winning performance comes, that it only brings us close. So massive credit to Nicholas who missed the first game, didn't get a start in the second, but he was always positive. As a team, we want that performance again,” he added.

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As there is no clarity on the availability of big guns such as Chris Gayle and Andre Russell in the national side on a permanent basis, grooming players like Pooran could hold Windies in good stead ahead of the ICC World Cup 2019.

“Our XI may change (depending on the conditions), however, whichever XI takes the field, they need to continue to bring that expression, that emotion, that belief, and that's what our cricket is known for many years. And I think what we need to do that again,” Brathwaite signed off.

Luckily, Pooran had senior Trinidadian mate Darren Bravo guiding him from the other end as he punished the Indian bowlers. Bravo’s presence helped him bring out his A game.

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