Hero CPL 2021: Positive Pooran says it isn’t over yet

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By Jemima Holmes

“The tournament hasn’t gone anywhere yet,” Nicholas Pooran answered when asked to sum up the Guyana Amazon Warriors’ performance thus far in the Hero Caribbean Premier League (CPL), as he maintained that the team would get better going forward.

With only three games down, it’s too early in the Hero CPL season to make big predictions and the Guyana Amazon Warriors (GAW) Captain agrees. The team have lost their last two games, but once again, an optimistic Pooran has managed to see the brighter side of the picture.

To him, the portrait is shaping up nicely.

Following a nail- biting weekend, Pooran, during a media engagement on Monday morning, verbalised his thoughts on the franchise’s performance thus far with a pretty concise – and honest – review.

“(We) started really good against TKR, bit disappointing again losing back-to-back games to the St Kitts Patriots, they actually played really good, they utilised the conditions to the best of their abilities. From our side, I just feel like the first two games we didn’t really bat too properly; in fairness to us, the pitches were a bit challenging in those first two games we played,” Pooran shared.

He continued, “The third game, I felt like we got to a really good score, five runs short maybe, but still a good total. I think our bowlers, we didn’t get early wickets, we struggled for that. I think we didn’t hit the pitch as much as we wanted too, we just couldn’t execute as a death bowling team.”

Admittedly, it hasn’t been the dream start that the Warriors would have hoped for. Pooran explained that with Nial Smith’s debut and Romario Shepherd’s niggle, the bowling department was ‘coping’, but the batsmen have not had any faults.

The GAW Captain related, “To be honest, we’re fine. We expect a lift from Naveen Ul- Haq and Romario Shepherd. It’s unfortunate that he couldn’t play after that first game, that set us back a little bit. You know, Nial Smith’s a bit inexperienced and in a high-pressure tournament, it’s challenging as well, but we’re coping with it.”

On the topic of the batting department, Pooran could relax his shoulders in contentment as he shared how “pleased” the team were with the change to their opening pair, which saw Mohamed Hafeez and Chanderpaul Hemraj put on a 47-run partnership for the first wicket on Sunday.

Going deeper, Pooran clarified that the Amazon Warriors have been trying to allow a smooth flow in the batting order, which at times included maintaining the left-right combination.

“We’re obviously fortunate to have a lot of left-and-right-hand combinations in our team and that’s our plan. So far, I felt that we’re still batting good as a unit, especially in tough conditions and yeah, it’s basically myself sending someone to bat in a certain position. So far, I can’t fault the batsmen for anything yet, but we’re doing a really good job,” Pooran said with an assertive nod.

Individually, the Amazon Warriors players have done quite well for themselves thus far. For the batting department, “The Professor” Mohamed Hafeez has led the way with 116 runs at an average of 58.0, a mature but fiery Shimron Hetmyer follows closely behind with 110 runs at an average of 36.6. The pair are currently second and third on CPL’s Highest Run Getters list currently.

On the other hand, the experience of Imran Tahir continues to show and his five wickets just prove that he cannot be kept out of the game. Ul- Haq, Odean Smith and Shepherd all have three wickets to their names, with Shepherd’s three coming in just one game.

As the Warriors go forward with a 15-man team, Captain Pooran does see everyone on the bench playing a part for the local franchise and hopes that they can all capitalise.

“In order for us to be successful in this tournament, everyone need to have a part. Some point in time in this tournament, players would get opportunities. Players are getting hurt, some players have niggles in areas, so everyone will play a part in this tournament. I just hope that whenever you do get your chance, you’re ready to take it.”

With the Amazon Warriors scheduled to size up against the Trinbago Knight Riders again on Wednesday, Pooran is still confident highlighting that it’s only the beginning of the tournament.

“The good thing is that, it’s one team that beat us twice; we obviously won against Trinidad, so I feel like we’re still in a really good position because if you look at the points table, St Kitts won all their games, the rest of teams, they’re on two points, so the tournament hasn’t gone anywhere yet,” he said.

A fact that he has hit firmly on the head: while the Patriots lead the points table with six points after a perfect three from three, the Warriors like the other four teams –The Barbados Royals, TKR, St Lucia Kings and Jamaica Tallawahs – all have two points, as their differentiating rankings are currently being decided by run rate.

Pooran concluded his point, stating, “I think every team in this tournament is still looking for their best combinations as well, we also are looking for our best combination. We have two days’ break, hopefully we could relax a little bit, come up with a better plan and get ready to play on Wednesday morning.”

While this article has gone on vehemently about Pooran’s thoughts and hopes, a figure to highlight is that of Shimron Hetmyer, who was playing the Vice Captain role quite passionately, as the Warriors battled the Patriots on Sunday last.

A sight that was welcomed by Pooran who shared, “Obviously, I trust Hetty a lot as well, he’s the Vice Captain of the team, so I lean on him for a lot of decisions as well. He knows how to relate to the Guyanese players, the local players and I’m very happy that he’s showing such maturity in this team.”

“That’s something the whole world and the entire Caribbean was looking forward to in the last couple months and I’m very happy that he’s showing that maturity now,” he acknowledged with a smile.