Nicholas Pooran is a precocious young cricketer.
One earmarked for senior international duty.
Two years ago he announced himself to the world playing for the West Indies Under-19s with a scintillating 143 from 160 balls against Australia in the ICC World Cup in Dubai.
Last night at Kensington Oval he showed off his growing credentials with a brilliant 39-ball 81 to lead the Barbados Tridents to a 25-run win over the St Lucia Zouks in the Hero Caribbean Premier League. Batting first after being sent in, Tridents made 173 for 5 and in response the Zouks were restricted to 148 for 8.
The home franchise overcame a sluggish start where openers Kyle Hope and Shoaib Malik added 44 but took two balls short of eight overs to do so. The departure of Malik in the eighth over for 15 and Hope in the ninth for 28 then saw the pairing of Pooran and the in-form AB de Villiers and an increase in the innings’ tempo.
The talented Trinidadian wicketkeeper/batsman and the South African great added 68 in 40 balls before de Villiers was caught on the boundary by Zouks’ captain Darren Sammy off fast bowler Jerome Taylor for 32, the ball after he had dispatched the Jamaican for a Hero Maximum.
Despite losing his senior partner and talisman of the batting line-up, Pooran maintained his assault on the Zouks bowling. In one purple period he took apart Australian all-rounder Shane Watson, hitting him for three boundaries and a six in the 18th over that went for 20. In all, he struck nine boundaries and four sixes going at a strike rate of 207.69.
Not only did Pooran outshine de Villiers but he also dominated a partnership of 49 with his captain Kieron Pollard whose contributed was six before he was caught by substitute Grant Elliott off Taylor. Pooran was eventually run out at the striker’s end with three balls to go as he attempted to get back the strike from Wayne Parnell who was finding it difficult to get bat on ball.
Taylor (2 for 27) was the best bowler on show for the Zouks. His pace colleague, Morne Morkel, troubled the top-order by extracting disconcerting bounce. However, the rest of the bowlers struggled for consistency. To make matters worse, a couple of opportunities were missed. The visitors would rue the fact that wicketkeeper Andre Fletcher missed a relatively easy chance to effect the stumping off Derone Davis in the 11th over, with de Villiers way out of his ground early in his partnership with Pooran. Pooran also benefited from chances to David Miller on the boundary – a miss that went for four, as well as a dolly that Shane Shillingford made a meal of.
The Tridents had made a mess of defending one run fewer on Saturday against the Trinbago Knight Riders so fans waited with bated breath to see how the home franchise’s bowlers would go last night.
The Zouks began well enough, making 29 runs from the opening 20 balls of the innings. But from there the Tridents came back strong, dismissing both openers Fletcher and Johnson Charles in quick time as the Zouks went from 29-0 to 33-2 in seven balls. It was all downhill from there.
When the Zouks lost Watson for a duck and Miller for 11 the St Lucian franchise had stumbled to 60 for 4 in the 10th over. Sammy came out to bat and he clearly hadn’t given up and got off the mark with a four as he looked to breathe some life into the Zouks innings.
With Sammy at the crease alongside Michael Hussey the Zouks still had a chance, but the game ended as a contest when Hussey was dismissed off the last ball of the 13th over bowled by Navin Stewart and Sammy was bowled off the first ball of the 14th by Raymon Reifer. It was then a case of wickets falling and the scoring rate requirement rising. A few biffs from Shillingford and Taylor who finished unbeaten on 13 and 17 respectively were a token whimper at the end, in a cause that had long been lost following Pooran’s pyrotechnics.
With the victory Barbados moved ahead of the Trinbago Knight Riders into third position with seven points, while the St. Lucia Zouks remained at the bottom of the table with two points after playing four matches. They now return home to St Lucia while the Tridents head to Jamaica.
Summary: Barbados Tridents 173 for 5 in 20 overs (Nicholas Pooran 81, AB de Villiers 32; Jerome Taylor 2-27, Shane Shillingford 1-28) beat St. Lucia Zouks148 for 8 in 20 overs (Andre Fletcher 20; Ravi Rampaul 2-22, Wayne Parnell 2-27) by 25 runs.