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Pooran looks to ‘refocus’ and bounce back

October 14, 2021

West Indies vice-captain Nicholas Pooran brushed off concerns about his patchy form and remained confident of playing a major role in the team’s success during the ICC Men’s Twenty20 World Cup, which opens on Sunday in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Oman.

The 26-year-old left-hander made only 85 runs at an average of 7.72 playing for the Punjab Kings in the Indian Premier League (IPL) this season.

He made 32 off 22 in his first innings when the IPL resumed last month in the UAE and could only muster 25 in his next four innings.

“The IPL is gone,” he said during a virtual news conference on Wednesday. “It’s done for me. I just have to refocus and go again.

“I know personally that I’ve let myself down in terms of not sticking with my process long enough. I felt like I rushed the results a lot and I paid the price. You could see that in my scores.

“It’s just for me to refocus now, hit the nets, work hard, refocus, and plan again – simple as that.”

Pooran’s dip in form led to him being dropped from Punjab’s final IPL match against Chennai Super Kings last Thursday.

But he said his recent form for West Indies and during the Caribbean Premier League, where he scored 263 runs in 10 innings at an average of 32.88 at a strike rate of 163.35 for Guyana Amazon Warriors, gave him confidence that he could turn things around.

“I’m not concerned at all,” he said. “My cricket is based on confidence and my intent. I left the first half of the (IPL) season scoring what, 20 runs in five, six, seven games [28 runs in six innings].

“I came and did decent in the last three series for West Indies and in CPL. It’s about my process, continuing to believe in my process, having faith in my process, and my confidence is very high. I have no doubts in my mind that I can execute my game plan and do good for the team.”

Pooran added:

“It’s just games. A lot of cricketers and a lot of sportsmen have bad times but that’s fine. All cricketers do have that patch and come out of it. I wouldn’t say it’s a patch for me.

“I came to the second half of IPL batting really good for West Indies and Guyana in CPL. To me, it’s not form. When you think about it, I haven’t really faced many balls in all honesty. It’s just for me to give myself that chance.”

Pooran, like West Indies captain Kieron Pollard, was recovering from injury when West Indies won the second of their two T20 World Cups five years ago in India under Daren Sammy.

He was involved in a car crash that left him with career-threatening injuries, and he labelled his recovery and place in the Windies team now as “a big achievement”.

“I remember in the last World Cup, I was now recovering from my injury,” he said. “I was always thinking about T20 World Cup – I wanted to be part of a T20 World Cup.

“Processing it now, it’s a big achievement for me, being vice-captain. It was never one of my goals to be a West Indies captain or vice-captain, but it’s my job, and I’m happy I can contribute in any way, supporting Polly (Kieron Pollard) and the coach. It’s a proud moment for me and my family.”

About West Indies chances and the need for them to change their swashbuckling style of batting in this format of the game, Pooran said they were aware of what was required, but he did not expect them to change their approach much.

“For the last couple of months, in the three series in the Caribbean [against South Africa, Australia and Pakistan], everything was about ‘singles, singles, singles’,” Pooran said. “We spoke about it and chatted about it. We have players that play certain roles, but as a batting group, we want to get better, we want to improve.

“Yes, singles are a part of the game, but our focus is not too much on singles. We won two World Cups with the same problem, to be honest, not getting singles, but yet still we won two World Cups. I don’t think the emphasis is on getting singles. It’s more about intent – intent and playing smart cricket, that’s it.”

He said: “There are times that we know we’ll have to put egos aside and grind deep for the team. If that’s batting a dot ball or trying to get a single, we’ll do that.

“We have net sessions and match scenarios when we try to play to our strengths, but also play to the conditions, which is finding how to get a single or working out how to get a single. We are working. We’re not the best at getting singles, but it’s a work in process and we believe in our process and our team.”

West Indies open the T20 World Cup against England on October 23 in Dubai in a rematch of the 2016 final.

They have been drawn in Group 1 and will also play group matches against recent opponents South Africa and Australia, as well as two teams that advance from qualifying matches in the first week of the tournament.

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