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Nicholas Pooran joins Yorkshire for Vitality T20 Blast

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Nicholas Pooran will seek to banish memories of West Indies’ unproductive World Cup by staying on in England to play five matches for Yorkshire in the Vitality T20 Blast.

Pooran was one of several rookie players that West Indies’ captain Jason Holder had in mind when he called for them to become the heart and the soul of the team. That is what Yorkshire have in mind by calling up the Trinidadian with a view to improving a mediocre T20 record.

One aspect of the World Cup that has at least worked in Pooran’s favour is that he has reached the requisite number of international appearances (15 over the preceding two years) during the West Indies’ campaign to qualify for a visa as an overseas player in the tournament.

He has not had a bad World Cup, getting starts in four of his five innings, but his 63 against England at the Ageas Bowl is his only half-century for a West Indies side that is on the brink of elimination.

“It is hard work playing for different teams and still trying to be as professional as you can be,” Pooran said. “You’ve just got to adapt and learn about different people’s cultures and just try to be the best I can be for the team. It will be a new and exciting experience for me.

Pooran, who made his ODI debut in Bridgetown against England in February this year, will return to the West Indies setup in time for their home T20I series against India, which begins on August 3 in Florida. He has quickly established himself as one of the most explosive batsmen in limited-overs cricket with a strike rate of 140 in his 11 T20 internationals. He also top scored in the fledgling T10 competition in the UAE before Christmas, scoring 324 runs in nine matches for Champions Northern Warriors, including 33 sixes.

Martyn Moxon, Yorkshire’s director of cricket, said: “Nicholas is an excellent young talent, although he is only available for a short period, we hope it will give us early impetus in the competition.

“Johnny Tattersall has been incredibly effective as a batter in limited-overs cricket, but he has played every game this season. He has now got three back-to-back Championship fixtures and only a couple of days between the end of the Somerset match and the start of the T20s.

“We’re mindful of the workload of Tatts and we have been leaving things open to see how he was going. There are other areas we feel we need for the T20s, so Nicholas has been on the radar for some time. At some point we needed to make a decision on which path to take, so we decided to go for him, albeit for a short five-game spell.”



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Fantasy tips: India v West Indies, 2nd T20I

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December 8: India v West Indies, 2nd T20I in Thiruvananthapuram

NOTE: We might not always be able to tip you off about late injury (or other relevant) updates

Captain: Rohit Sharma

Rohit rarely fails to perform through an entire T20I series. He had an off day in Hyderabad, and is likely to make amends.

Vice-captain: Yuzvendra Chahal

In a high-scoring first T20I, Chahal was India’s most successful bowler, even coming back at the death to pick up two crucial wickets.

Hot picks

Virat Kohli

After that 50-ball 94..

Kieron Pollard

Pollard got going in the first game with the bat, finding his range and clearing some of the longer boundaries in Hyderabad. Why not one more time?

Deepak Chahar

An early wicket is almost always assured with Chahar, but he took quite a beating in the first game. It should be worth backing him one more time.

Value for money

Nicholas Pooran

He’s been striking it at 147.73 in T20s over the past two years, and can clear the boundary against both pace and spin.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar

Among the most experienced T20 bowlers going around, he had a decent first outing on return from injury.

Sheldon Cottrell

His angle from around the wicket, swing, and variations all make him a solid proposition. More salutes = more fantasy points.

Point to note

  • Thiruvananthapuram was not among the higher-scoring venues in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, with an average first innings score of 127. That was due in part to some weaker domestic sides playing there, so a total in excess of 180 on Sunday can’t be ruled out.



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What is the reward for performing in this Ranji Trophy?

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Into its 86th year, the biggest first-class competition in the world – the Ranji Trophy – gets bigger with a 38th team, Chandigarh, added to the roster for the 2019-20 season. Like every year, it gives around 800 hopefuls a platform to establish themselves. Players aside, it is also a true test for ground staff, curators, logistics personnel, scorers, coaches and, of course, match officials. Here is a look at what the key talking points from this season are likely to be.



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Rahul 2.0 makes strong case for regular limited-overs spots

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Ball dekho, maaro.” (See ball, hit ball)

Speaking to Chahal TV for the BCCI website, this was how KL Rahul summed up his approach and mindset after getting to a start in India’s pursuit of 208 against West Indies in the T20I series opener in Hyderabad. In stark contrast to his captain Virat Kohli’s early struggles at the other end, Rahul seamlessly built on his start and converted it into a 40-ball 62. It was Rahul’s innings that set the scene for the angry Kohli masterclass in the latter half of the chase.

When Rahul had broken into first-class cricket in 2010, he was a proper top-order batsman whose game was founded on the old-school virtues: leaving anything that’s wide of off stump and playing the balls that threaten the stumps with a dead-straight bat.

Rahul, however, unlocked the white-ball monster in him during IPL 2018, when he racked up 659 runs in 14 matches at a strike rate of 158.41. He followed it up with 593 runs in 14 matches in 2019, having expanded his range with a variety of sweeps, scoops and big hits. Some of that funkiness has perhaps seeped into his red-ball game and as a result he has been jettisoned from the Test squad.

His white-ball form, though, is reaching a stage where it might be just too hard to ignore. Rahul might not have even started the series had Shikhar Dhawan been fit. This, despite being at the forefront of Karnataka’s 20-overs Syed Mushtaq Ali title defence. Rahul had tallied 313 runs in eight innings at an average of 52.16 and strike rate of 155.72, including some tough runs on spin-friendly tracks in Surat.

On the eve of the T20I series against West Indies, Kohli was even asked if the management might consider bumping Rishabh Pant to the top, but the India captain shot that thought down quickly and indicated that Rahul will slot in alongside Rohit Sharma.

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KL Rahul on getting to open the innings in T20Is and the new front-foot no-ball monitoring system

Rohit picked out deep midwicket for 8 off 10 balls in India’s steep chase in Hyderabad and Kohli just couldn’t find his bearings early on at the other end. West Indies’ bowlers, particularly Sheldon Cottrell, varied their pace and lengths smartly to make life more difficult for India.

After Cottrell had softened Rohit with a length ball that burst off the track and pinged his right glove, left-arm fingerspinner Khary Pierre made the incision for West Indies. However, Rahul continued to pick off runs in risk-free fashion.

Having all the shots is one thing and knowing when to use them is another. When Cottrell or Holder found some extra bounce and aimed for the fourth stump, Rahul simply rode it and tapped it behind point, down towards third man.

Only when the ball was well short and wide of off did Rahul unleash the full-blooded cut. Hayden Walsh Jr. was the best fielder of CPL 2019, his athletic interventions at backward point turned games as much as his wristspin did for eventual champions Barbados Tridents. Just ask West Indies and Trinbago Knight Riders captain Kieron Pollard. It was a moment of brilliance in the field from Walsh Jr. that ran out Pollard in the second qualifier and KO’d Knight Riders.

On Friday night, Rahul cracked a brace of square-cuts, beating a sprawling Walsh Jr. – both to his left and right for fours. Then, after bedding in, in the last over of the Powerplay, Rahul brought out his attacking enterprise. He backed away to left-arm fingerspinner Pierre and slog-swept him over square leg for six. See ball, hit ball.

In the next over, Rahul used the extra pace of Walsh Jr. to his advantage and dabbed him fine of short third man for four. He also rotated the strike without much fuss and raised his fifty off 37 balls. During the process, Rahul passed 1000 T20I runs in his 29th innings.

Just when Rahul was about to hit full tilt, having sent Kesrick Williams and Pierre for sixes over midwicket, he holed out to long-off while attempting a third six. By then, Kohli had found his touch and India eventually sailed to victory.

“[It’s] important to lay a solid foundation as an opener because there are power hitters in the back end,” Rahul told Star Sports after the match. “Playing Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy helped a lot. Doesn’t matter how many hours you spend in the nets. Winning games gives me the most confidence. Did that with Karnataka, happy to do it with India. Good that I can carry my confidence across tournaments.”

Rahul has two more T20Is in this series to extend his rich white-ball form and give the Indian management another happy headache in the lead-up to the T20 World Cup in Australia – the scene of his Test debut – next year.

“It’s a long way [away], honestly,” Rahul said of the T20 World Cup, at the post-match press conference. “I’ve got the opportunity to bat at the top of the order again after a couple of series. So [I’m] looking forward to just making the best use of it. Today was a good outing, a good hit in the middle, and hopefully I just continue the same thing and not worry about October next year, there are a lot of games before that.”



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