(ESPN Cricinfo) Kieron Pollard and Sunil Narine were controversial inclusions in West Indies’ squad for the ODI tri-series. They had not played international cricket since November 2015, and did not take part in West Indies’ domestic 50-over competition, which was considered to be one of the WICB’s criteria for selection.
The two of them, however, proved the match-winners in the opening game of the tournament, with Narine’s 6 for 27, the best ODI figures by a West Indies spinner, helping bowl South Africa out for 188 and Pollard’s unbeaten, run-a-ball 67 sealing a four-wicket win.
Phil Simmons, West Indies’ head coach, praised the pair’s contributions, highlighting Narine’s effort to bounce back from a difficult period, in which he has remodeled his bowling action after it was found to be illegal.
“They are the two guys who took the game away from South Africa, and it showed that they’re very important to our cricket,” Simmons said. “Narine himself, coming back from everything he’s been through, to come and perform the way he did today, you have to give him a lot of kudos for his grit and his determination, to come out of where he’s been and to come back and perform like this.”
Pollard showed his ball-striking ability by hitting six sixes, but waited for the right moments to play his big shots on a sluggish pitch. West Indies were a slightly shaky 76 for 4 when he walked in and took over.
“Pollard’s experience showed there,” Simmons said “His ability to hit the ball but also his experience to guide young [Darren] Bravo and so on through the end. [It] showed in [South Africa’s] innings too, [AB] de Villiers guiding [Rilee] Rossouw. And also, I think we came out and [showed] a little bit more grit and a little bit more determination today.”
Simmons was heartened by what he felt was an improved fielding display from his side.
“I think, again, the bowling has been fantastic and the fielding is getting to where I would like to see, it’s improving all the time,” he said. “Everybody knows that we can bowl and we can bat, but the fielding in particular has been improving and that has helped in us keeping teams to low scores.”