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Stars in their eyes, young guns embark on journey of hope - Cricket News
Features and Specials,26 January 2016

Stars in their eyes, young guns embark on journey of hope

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Magnificent Pooran fails to stop Australia

West Indies batsman scores 143 out of team’s 208 but can't prevent five-wicket loss

Magnificent Pooran fails to stop Australia - Cricket News
Australia dominates the West Indies in the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup having won all its past six matches.
When people are willing to scrap it out against big odds, they win admirers. Even though West Indies went down to Australia by five wickets in the second quarterfinal of the ICC Under-19 World Cup at Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Sunday (February 23), Nicolas Pooran’s 143 had clearly charmed those who were fortunate to witness the innings.
 
For the record, West Indies was bowled out for 208 in 49.5 overs and then Australia, on the back of an opening-wicket stand of 107 between Matthew Short and Jaron Morgan, romped home in 46.4 overs.
 
But the story of the day was Pooran.
 
After the Australian bowlers dictated terms to reduce West Indies to 70 for 8 in 26.3 overs, Pooran produced one of the great rearguard innings, at any level. With Jerome Jones, the No. 10 batsman, for company, Pooran showed tremendous grit and played a refreshing form of counter-attacking cricket to put on 136 runs – the best ninth-wicket stand in Under-19 international history – before Jones was run out in the last over. Jones’s contribution was 20 in 36 balls.
 
That it fell upon Pooran and Jones to rescue the innings was because of some disciplined bowling by Australia early in the day.
 
The procession of wickets started with the dismissal of Shimron Hetmyer, who was bowled by a wonderful yorker from Billy Stanlake off the last ball of the third over. The ball pitched on off and moved a bit to uproot middle stump.
 
Tagenarine Chanderpaul, fresh from half-centuries in his two previous outings, stayed in his crease to an outgoing length delivery from Guy Walker and nicked it to the captain Alex Gregory at first slip. And, off the very next ball, Jonathan Drakes was adjudged lbw to one that kept a bit low.
 
Soon, James Bazley got Jeremy Solozano to play away and edge to slip, Brandon King stayed in the crease to push at a back of a length delivery from Ben Ashkenazi to be caught behind, and the captain Ramaal Lewis was done in by Ashkenazi’s pace and was bowled. Then, in his first over, the left-arm spinner Thomas Andrews got Gudakesh Motie to hit one to Damien Mortimer at cover, and in his second over he had Bryan Charles caught and bowled.
 
With wickets falling, Gregory kept six men in the ring and the fielders responded with some sensational stops. While all this was going on though, Pooran, who came in at No. 5, played a free game that left the fielders a bit clueless.
 
He was technically solid and played close to his body, but what impressed most was his awareness of the situation. He picked on the rare loose deliveries and ensured that they were dispatched to the fence.
 
He got going with a flick off Walker in the tenth over to bring the first boundary of the innings, but nothing was more attractive than the lofted six off Walker straight over the bowler’s head in the 32nd over.
 
Initially, it looked like the show would end any time, but with Jones, Pooran went about building the blocks without ever looking like losing his wicket. He farmed the strike and brought up the fifty partnership in 47 balls, of which Jones had faced only eight.
 
When Pooran hit Andrews for his second six to the third tier over wide long-on, the Australian shoulders had started to droop. It allowed Jones to grow in confidence, and he too played with a straight bat to hit Andrews for two fours in one over.
 
The seamers returned but Pooran was batting on a different plane. He flicked Bazley to bring up his century, and soon registered the highest score by any batsman against Australia at this level. And by the time he hit Andrews for three sixes in the penultimate over to take West Indies past the 200-run mark, the school kids in the galleries were chanting, “Pooran ... Poora-a-a-n”!
 
Walker bowled Pooran in the last over for his third wicket, but by then Pooran had scored 68.75% of the team’s total – the highest percentage of runs in an innings by an individual at this level.
 
In the second half of the match, Short and Morgan got Australia to a strong start, playing shots all around the wicket with conviction and the freedom that comes when chasing a smallish target. That Pooran missed a stumping chance when Morgan was on 22 helped Australia’s cause.
 
Morgan was the first to reach his half-century, but mistimed a flighted delivery from Charles to be caught at long-on for 55. Immediately after that, Ray Jordan dived to his right in his follow through to pull off a sensational catch to end Short’s knock at 52.
 
Damien Mortimer was stumped and Gregory was bowled, but Jake Doran, who remained unbeaten on 49, and Ben McDermott batted sensibly to add 53 to take Australia five runs away from victory before McDermott was out for 29. It went over the line soon after.
 
Australia now meet South Africa, who beat Afghanistan by nine wickets in the other quarterfinal of the day, in the second semifinal at the same venue on Wednesday.

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