CPL 2020: Pooran credits fitness after match-winning hundred

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By Avenash Ramzan

With 16 required for victory on a humid Sunday afternoon at Queen’s Park Oval, Nicholas Pooran, who retained the strike, was 18 short of a maiden T20 hundred with three overs remaining.

“When I saw Ish Sodhi come to bowl I said I’m going to back myself 100 percent.”

And that he did, hitting three consecutive sixes to reach the coveted landmark and more importantly, put the Guyana Amazon Warriors’ campaign in Hero CPL 2020 back on track.

Chasing a challenging 151 after the St. Kitts Patriots posted 150-5, Warriors found themselves in familiar territory, slipping to 25-3 by the final over of the Powerplay.

The Warriors batting has been its weak link all tournament, and a fourth defeat on the trot seems likely at that stage. However, Pooran was joined by the experienced New Zealander Ross Taylor and they batted cautiously to the 10th over, leaving the Warriors to get 92 off the last 60 deliveries.

Upon resumption, they proceeded to smash 40 off the next three overs with Pooran being the protagonist, moving from 21 to 55 during that period.

That onslaught by the diminutive left-hander, coupled with Taylor’s deliberate approach of rotating the strike at every opportunity, swung the contest in Warriors’ favour and proved to be the decisive passage of play that forced the ultimate outcome.

The unbroken partnership of 128 in 11.5 over, the first century stand of the tournament, essentially turned an initial rickety response to a commanding win with 15 balls to spare.

Reflecting on his heroics, which spanned 45 balls and included 10 sixes, Pooran spoke of the off-field programme he was engaged in during the COVID-19 lockdown.

“I want to thank my parents, my girlfriend and (Physiotherapist) Jason Pilgrim. For the last couple of months I’ve been working on my fitness really hard; I wanted to improve on my skills and I know fitness was the way,” Pooran said.

“My girlfriend and Jason Pilgrim I must say worked with me tremendously hard over the last five months and today I’m very happy.”

“Everyone knows after hardwork is success; we not sure when we gonna get the success, but eventually it would happen and I was just patient for it.”

Ross Taylor played the supporting role in a partnership dominated by Pooran (Photo by Randy Brooks – CPL T20/CPL T20 via Getty Images)

The hundred was the first of Hero CPL 2020 and the 17th in the history of the competition, which started in 2013.

It was also the third hundred by a Guyana Amazon Warriors batsman, following Brandon King’s 132 against Barbados Tridents last season and Shimron Hetmyer’s 100 against Jamaica Tallawahs in 2018.

“It’s been a tough tournament for everyone so far, even myself. The wicket isn’t the easiest one, but hopefully today could change everything for my team, especially confidence wise, and hopefully we can go one step further this year,” Pooran said.

During the initial stages of the match-winning partnership with Taylor, Pooran said the aim was to keep the run rate under 10 “because it was a tough wicket.”

“And having an experienced guy like him was easier for me because today I was just positive. For the last two years I haven’t been finishing off games and today this is a big one for me to actually finish off this game when it mattered most for our team.”

The knock catapulted Pooran to 206 runs, the second most in the tournament behind Jamaica Tallawahs opener Glenn Phillips’ 207.

The win also moved Warriors from fifth on the table to third on six points, the same as Tallawahs. Trinbago Knight Riders lead the pack with the maximum 12 points, followed by St. Lucia Zouks on 10. Patriots, with one win in seven points, are bottom of the table on two points.

The Warriors now play their final three preliminary games on consecutive days. On Tuesday they take on Barbados Tridents, followed by a clash against St. Lucia Zouks on Wednesday, and the return encounter against Tridents on Thursday.

All games will start at 17:30h.

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