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T20 World Cup 2021 – Nicholas Pooran

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WI vice-captain says his BPL experience will come in handy against Bangladesh

After West Indies tumbled to 55 all out in their opener against England in Dubai, their head coach Phil Simmons said that they just couldn’t wait for the next game to shake it off. West Indies similarly fell in a heap against South Africa despite Evin Lewis’ half-century, and now they are desperate to break out of the funk.
They will have to do so without Obed McCoy who has been ruled out of the rest of the tournament with injury.
Bangladesh are in the same boat, having lost both their matches in the Super 12s and Mohammad Saifuddin to injury. Nicholas Pooran, the West Indies vice-captain, reckoned that Friday could be their best opportunity to get their first points.

“Yeah, I think Bangladesh after losing two games – they are in the same situation as us as well,” Pooran said. “So, I think it’s going to be a good challenge for us tomorrow. We need to get that victory and playing in Sharjah as well… We know Bangladesh have a lot of spinners as well. It’s definitely going to be a challenge for us as well and it’s how bad we actually want it.”

Reflecting on the twin batting collapses, Pooran admitted that West Indies’ batters were “not good enough” in Dubai, but backed them to fare better in Sharjah.

“The mood in the camp is still good,” Pooran said. “The guys are gelling really good; I think we’re really hurt at losing those two games and we have only ourselves to blame. But the mood is still good. We know what we have to do and everyone is up for the challenge.

Jason Holder coming into the team…obviously, he’s a quality player as well. We’re happy to have him and we wish him all the best. With the batting order and the batsmen, we just didn’t rise to the occasion to be honest. If you can accept that you weren’t good in the first two games… I think as batsmen and as a team we’ve already accepted that we didn’t come to the party and we’re looking forward to moving forward and hopefully we can do much better.”
Pooran had been bumped up to No.3 to offset Lendl Simmons’ go-slow on Tuesday. Keeping him at the top could potentially neutralise Bangladesh’s left-armers – he strikes at nearly 171 against left-arm orthodox in T20 cricket – but he held his cards close to his chest.

“For me it’s just about doing what the team wants me to do, to be honest,” he said. “At the moment, the tournament is just for us to put our hands up and perform whatever role the team requires from me.

“It doesn’t really matter to be honest. We back our batsmen 100%. Doesn’t matter if it’s a right-hand or left-hand batsman. We back them to do the job for us – whoever is playing in that XI tomorrow, they’ll have specific roles. We have a wonderful captain and he knows what he’s doing as well. So whatever he says goes and we back him to make some really good decisions for us tomorrow to be successful.”

Pooran felt that his familiarity with the Bangladesh players, having played alongside the likes of Liton Das and Afif Hossain for Sylhet Sixers in the 2018-19 BPL, could come in handy on Friday. During that season, Pooran hit 379 runs in 11 innings at a strike rate of just under 160. Only Rilee Rossouw, Tamim Iqbal and Mushfiqur Rahim had scored more runs than Pooran in that BPL.

“It helps a lot,” Pooran said of the BPL experience. ‘I’ve spent a bit of time in Bangladesh as well, not only me but a lot of the other guys as well. We have good friendships; we make good friendships with the guys. We get to understand them and learn off them as well, especially in different conditions. So going into the game, [we] actually know what these guys do – being a bit familiar with it and I think that helps us a lot as batsmen and as bowlers as well.”

Deivarayan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo



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County news – James Neesham signs for Northamptonshire for Blast campaign

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New Zealand allrounder expected to feature in full campaign in 2022 season

James Neesham, the New Zealand allrounder, has agreed to join Northamptonshire for their T20 Blast campaign.

Neesham, whose heroics in the 2019 World Cup final at Lord’s were instrumental in that contest’s thrilling finish, gained a measure of revenge over England in the T20 World Cup in the UAE in November, where his 27 from 11 balls helped to eliminate Eoin Morgan’s men in the semi-final. However, New Zealand went on to lose the final against Australia.

In 181 T20 fixtures – 38 of which have come for his country – Neesham has made 2,360 runs at a strike-rate of 136.81, and taken 158 wickets. He has previously featured for Derbyshire, Essex and Kent in county cricket, and last season turned out for Welsh Fire in the inaugural season of the Hundred.

“I’m excited to get going with Northamptonshire in 2022,” Neesham said. “The club has a fantastic history in the Blast and I hope that we can recreate those successes from 2013 and 2016.”

Josh Cobb, Northamptonshire’s captain, played alongside Neesham last season, and is excited about the prospect of linking up with him again.

“Having spent time with him at the Welsh Fire in The Hundred last year I know what he can bring to us.” Cobb said.

“He’s a three-dimensional cricketer with genuine power and a high strike rate in the middle order, but it was his character that stood out to me. He’s someone who wants to win and is very selfless, he’s a real team-first kind of player.

“I’m looking forward to having him here as a leader, to pass on his experience and help drive us to be better.”

Assuming New Zealand’s international schedule remains clear, Neesham should be available for the duration of the Blast campaign in May, June and July – with the final at Edgbaston this year following closely on from the group stages to ensure that overseas players can take part. He will also be on hand for County Championship action in June.

“The opportunity to possibly play some first-class cricket for the county in Division One is also an exciting challenge.” Neesham said. “I look forward to linking up with everyone at Wantage Road soon.”



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Recent Match Report – Barishal vs Dhaka 5th Match 2021/22

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Shakib Al Hasan becomes the fifth bowler to take 400 wickets in T20 cricket

Minister Group Dhaka 130 for 6 (Mahmudullah 47, Russell 31*, Shafiul 2-20) beat Fortune Barishal 129 for 8 (Gayle 36, Russell 2-27, Udana 2-29) by four wickets

How the match played out
Andre Russell was in his element, following up figures of 2 for 27 with an unbeaten 31 off 15 balls, as Minister Group Dhaka beat Fortune Barishal by four wickets in Mirpur. This was Dhaka’s first win in three matches in BPL 2022 and Russell’s first major contribution this season.
Chasing 130, Dhaka were in early trouble at 10 for 4 in the third over. Left-arm quick Shafiqul Islam bowled Tamim Iqbal in the first over of their chase before Alzarri Joseph dismissed both Mohammad Naim and Jahurul Islam in the second over. When Shafiqul bowled Mohammad Shahzad in the next over, Dhaka were tottering.
Mahmudullah and Shuvagata Hom then steadied things with a 69-run fifth-wicket stand before Russell did what he does best: close out games with his big hits. Shakib Al Hasan, however, gave Barishal a reason to celebrate: he became only the fifth bowler to take 400 T20 wickets.

Earlier, Barishal had slipped to 23 for 3 in the powerplay, when they lost Najmul Hossain Shanto, Shykat Ali and Towhid Hridoy. The experienced pair of Shakib (23) and Chris Gayle (36) then added a semblance of respectability to their innings. But neither could convert it into a bigger knock, which left Barishal at 94 for 6 in the 16th over. Dwayne Bravo’s unbeaten 26-ball 33 then dragged the side to 129 for 8.

All six of Dhaka’s bowlers were among the wickets, with Isuru Udana and Russell taking two each. Meanwhile, Rubel Hossain, Hom and Hasan Murad all bowled economical spells.

Big hit
Russell’s big blows – a four and a six clobbered through square-leg off Joseph – gave Dhaka a huge sigh of relief. It ensured Dhaka were in touch with the asking rate before Russell rushed them to victory with a six and a brace of fours off Taijul Islam in the 17th over.

Dhaka captain Mahmudullah provided Russell great support at the other end, scoring a run-a-ball 47. He struck three fours and a six before he became Shakib’s 400th victim in T20 cricket.

Barishal made a decent fist of their defence, thanks to Shafiqul who bowled with good pace and a bit of movement with the new ball. He was well-supported by Joseph before Russell lined up his West Indies team-mate.

Big miss
Tamim missed out for the first time in three matches, getting out for a second-ball duck in this game. Dhaka’s top four managed only single-digit scores of 0,5,4,0. It could be an alarming sign for Naim and Jahurul who are yet to make a sizeable contribution this season.

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo’s Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84



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Zimbabwe cricket – Brendan Taylor says he faces ICC ban for delay in reporting approach

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Former Zimbabwe captain says cocaine involved in trap laid by alleged corruptors

Former Zimbabwe captain Brendan Taylor has revealed that the ICC is about to “impose a multi-year ban” on his international career after he allegedly delayed reporting a corrupt approach “by an Indian businessman”. Taylor had met with the businessman in October 2019 after being asked “to discuss sponsorships and the potential launch of a T20 competition in Zimbabwe”.
Taylor delayed reporting that meeting in India because, he said, he wanted to protect his family. He describes substance abuse having taken place during that meeting in a statement on Twitter, which he says led to him being allegedly blackmailed. The men he had met, Taylor said, stormed into his hotel room the next day, and threatened to release video of the substance abuse unless he carried out spot-fixing for them. He was given USD 15,000 – which he said he took to flee India – and told it was a deposit for a future payment once the fix was carried out.

“It took me 4 months to report this offence and interaction to the ICC,” Taylor said. “I acknowledge this was too long of a time but I thought I could protect everyone and in particular, my family. I approached the ICC on my own terms and I hoped that if I explained my predicament, my genuine fear for our safety and wellbeing, that they would understand the delay.

“Unfortunately, they did not, but I cannot feign ignorance in this regard. I have attended many anti-corruption seminars over the years and we know that time is of the essence when making reports.”

Taylor also said he had “never been involved in any form of match-fixing. I may be many things but I am not a cheat. My love for the beautiful game of cricket far outweighs and surpasses any threats which could be thrown my way.”

The ICC has yet to comment on Taylor’s statement, and if he does – as he said – face a ban on his international cricket career, it’s worth noting he does not have much of one at the moment: in September last year he retired from international cricket, after a 17-year career.

Taylor’s statement does reveal, however, some of the difficulties in playing for Zimbabwe, which led to him eventually being prescribed a strong anti-psychotic medication. He said that at the time of the incident he hadn’t been paid by Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) for six months “and it was questionable whether Zimbabwe would be able to continue playing in the international arena”.

Another former Zimbabwe captain, Heath Streak, was banned by the ICC for breaches of the anti-corruption code in April 2021. Streak was coach of the side during the World Cup qualifiers in Harare in 2018 and revealed in a recent interview with The Cricket Monthly that the coaching team had agreed to forfeit pay during that period, hoping that if Zimbabwe qualified, the ICC prize money for doing so would enable payments to be made eventually. Zimbabwe did not qualify for the 2019 World Cup.

“I would also like to let you know that on Tuesday the 25th of January I am checking into a rehabilitation centre to get clean and to get my life back on track. I have to tell my story now because I know people will want to hear from me. To try and understand what led to this point.”

Brendan Taylor

Taylor revealed that he will be “checking into a rehabilitation centre” from January 25th in order to deal with the substance abuse.

“I will admit that the past two years have been incredibly challenging, both personally and professionally and it is from absolute rock bottom that I am trying to climb out of this mess I made. My family and friends have been incredibly supportive of me and it is clear to me now that I have a much bigger problem which for some time has needed addressing.

“And so, I would also like to let you know that on Tuesday the 25th of January I am checking into a rehabilitation centre to get clean and to get my life back on track. I have to tell my story now because I know people will want to hear from me. To try and understand what led to this point. But for many weeks I will be away and trying to get better.

“l owe it to myself and to my family to get clean and to put them first. I have let a substance take control of me and impair my vision, my morals and my values and it is time that I prioritise what really matters.”

Taylor captained Zimbabwe in 71 games between 2011 and 2021 across the three formats. He was full-time captain between mid-2011 and mid 2014, before Zimbabwe went the split captaincy route and Taylor remained in charge only in Test cricket. Then, at the end of the 2015 World Cup, he retired from internationals and went to the UK on a Kolpak deal aged 29. In late 2017, he ended his Kolpak deal and returned to Zimbabwean cricket.



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