“What we want as players to come back to this level of cricket”; Nicholas Pooran praises Red Force paceman Shannon Gabriel for semi-final heroics

Nicholas Pooran, the limited-overs captain of the West Indies cricket team, is wreaking havoc in the GC Insurance Super 50 Cup these days. He played brilliant stormy innings against Barbados while playing for Trinidad and Tobago. Thanks to his fiery innings, Trinidad and Tobago registered a resounding victory over Barbados.

In the match played between Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados, Nicholas Pooran played a stormy inning of 111 runs in 82 balls.

Pooran hit five fours and eight sixes in his 111. It was instrumental in getting the Red Force to 312-6, the highest score in the competition this season. At the same time, Nicholas Pooran was seen struggling to score runs with the bat throughout the World Cup.

Trinidad and Tobago, batting first, set a target of 312 runs in front of Barbados. Meanwhile, Aamir Jangu, Dwayne Bravo played half-century innings.

Chasing 313 for victory, Barbados were restricted to 302-8 despite an incredibly valiant 130 not out from 79 balls by Roshon Primus, his highest List A score.

The Pride were in early trouble at 13-2 in the fourth over after Shannon Gabriel had Zachary McCaskie caught at slip for one before returning to bowl Kyle Hope for four. The Pride slipped into further trouble at 45-3 when Sunil Narine had Shai Hope caught behind for 24.

Johnathan Carter and Nicholas Kirton got Barbados back on track with a 63-run partnership that got them to 108 when Shannon Gabriel picked up his third wicket, having Carter caught at deep backward point by Jason Mohammed for 45.

Fourteen balls and 10 runs later, he was caught by Narine off the bowling of Yanick Cariah for 35 leaving Barbados sinking fast at 118-5, still 195 runs behind. When Shamar Springer was trapped lbw by Imran Khan for five, all seemed lost for Barbados, who at this point were 146-6.

However, Roshon Primus and Akeem Jordan were not ready to give up. Together they put together a run-a-ball 93 runs for the seventh wicket.

But Barbados team could only manage 302 runs at the loss of 8 wickets. Roshan Primus scored 130 runs for Barbados.

With Primus on a rampage, having struck nine fours and nine sixes prior to the final over, it seemed like he was destined to spoil the Red Force party when he slapped Gabriel’s first ball for four.

But the pacer kept his cool, sending down three dot balls to seal the win.

“That was a fabulous game of cricket and that is what we want as players to come back to this level of cricket and having that kind of quality and it was a wonderful evening for cricket,” Pooran said after the game.

“It’s difficult to bat 90-plus miles per hour on that wicket, especially when the ball is keeping a bit low and it was a bit dark as well,” he continued.

Shannon Gabriel was the best of the Red Force bowlers finishing with 4-43.

“He (Shannon) did a fabulous (job) in this tournament and tonight he showed his class. He hasn’t been in the set-up for a while but it is nice to see him fit and injury-free and coming here and bowling 90 miles per hour, that is not easy to bat,” Pooran said.

Asked about the move, Pooran said: “Shannon has not bowled an over from the top end for the entire day and Terrance was obviously bowling from that end so I said, ‘you know what, let’s not change it’. If Terrance could get 15 runs in this over, we back ourselves to defend in the final over. Terrance got eight and then Shannon used his pace and experience to come up trumps for us.”

Gabriel is the leading fast bowler in the tournament with 14 wickets from six matches.

Asked about Primus’ knock, the Red Force skipper said: “We knew the only way we were going to lose this game was if someone played a special innings and it was definitely a special innings.”

“A couple of decisions could have gone our way and the game could have finished an hour ago but it didn’t happen. Primus obviously took his chance and played really well but I am happy our bowlers could hold their nerve and come up trumps,” said Pooran.

“It was a really good batting wicket and as a team we knew that coming down to the 25th to 30th over, we start to struggle and teams build partnerships and that is something we have been struggling with. Tonight, it was the same thing with Akeem and Primus but again Jangoo getting that run out there changed the momentum of the game. I am happy the guys could stick it in the end and get the win for us,” he added.

Of his own knock, Pooran said the key was his clarity of thought.

“I didn’t believe that I was out of form. Obviously, I struggled with shot selection and consistency sometimes but I am happy I could be out there in the middle batting for my team. I am really enjoying my batting and I’ve been really clear and that is something that has been helping me as well,” he said.

He also praised the performance of Darren Bravo (54 off 65 balls), who struck his third half-century of the tournament on Wednesday.

“We stopped calling him Darren now and we call him Michael. He has been really good for us in this tournament. I know when he got 50 and was out, it is hurting him. Normally when he gets in, he goes big for us but he has done really well for us. Jangoo (81 off 115 balls) came into the game with two failures and the way he batted today was really mature and he put his hands up and he was finding ways to score and Akeal (Hosein) (42 off 20 balls) played a part in the end there as well,” Pooran concluded.

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