West Indies white-ball captain Nicholas Pooran believes his team gave up their chance to win Wednesday’s first of two T20 Internationals against hosts Australia as they succumbed to a three-wicket defeat, with one ball to spare, at Carrara Stadium on the Gold Coast in Queensland.
Sent in to bat, the men in maroon got to 145/9 in 20 overs, with opening batsman Kyle Mayers (39) topscoring and fast bowler Odean Smith (27) putting in a cameo with the bat at number eight.
Raymon Reifer (19) also chipped in, but if the Bajan had not dropped a catch in the final over, one of two, there might have been a different result for the visitors.
All-rounder Jason Holder hit two quick-fire sixes in his seven-ball knock of 13 and Brandon King, who scored a century six days ago, leading Jamaica Tallawahs to their third Hero CPL T20 title, scored 12.
Pooran’s shady run of form in this format continued as he made two runs before going out trapped leg-before to Mitchell Starc.
In reply, the Aussies struggled in the early stages as pacers Sheldon Cottrell and Alzarri Joseph took apart the top order before T20I debutant Yannic Cariah snagged his first wicket, the prized scalp of Glenn Maxwell, to have the hosts reeling at 58/5 after eight overs.
Aaron Finch (58 from 53) and Matthew Wade (39 not out), however, were pivotal in leading the Aussie fightback as they got to a nervy 146/7 after 19.5 overs.
Needing 11 from the final over, Cottrell was given the responsibility of restricting the opposition. Wade pulled the first delivery for four to the right of short fine leg and swooped the next into the air, but was dropped by Reifer, who seemed to lose his footing, and gave up two more runs.
One run came from the next ball and then Starc attempted a big shot which was again dropped, this time by Mayers, which conceded two additional runs.
Needing two from two, Starc hit to extra cover and ran away with the victory.
Joseph (2/17) was the pick of the bowlers and Cottrell (2/49), Cariah (1/15 from four overs), Smith (1/19) and Holder (1/30) were also among the wickets.
A disappointed Pooran told AP, “Definitely tough at the end. We had our chance to win the game. We messed it up. Catches win matches. Obviously we paid the price again.”
Joseph, who had just closed off his CPLT20 campaign as the leading bowler, was also hurt by the result, but had already shifted his focus to the second T20I on Friday.
“It’s always trying to add the one per cent every day. Keep on trusting the process, training hard and doing what I need to do to get the success.
"It wasn’t the result we wanted, but we really fought hard and pushed Australia right down to the last over.
“All in all, it was a fairly good performance, and we just have to go back and see what we can improve for the next game.
“We’re looking to win so we can level the series, but it’s a quick turnaround. It’s for us to now have our meetings and get that in the back of our mind that we have to win this game to level the series.”
The Antiguan fast bowler also applauded Cariah’s debut T20I performance. In Cariah’s four overs, he had 12 dot balls, 15 runs conceded and one wicket.
“It was really good to see him come into the team today and put out the show he did. It was really inspiring for a man playing his first game in a pressure situation, a low-scoring game, coming in just after the powerplay and getting that key wicket (Maxwell) for us. It was inspiring for me especially,” Joseph added.
Bowling on the pace-friendly wicket in Queensland, Joseph said the pitch conditions served him well.
“It was a bit of a spongy wicket with a bit of an awkward bounce. It really assisted me in terms of my bowling.”
After Friday’s second T20I, WI will play two warm-up T20s against United Arab Emirates (October 9) and Netherlands (October 12) ahead of their ICCC T20 World Cup Qualifier campaign, which bowls off against Scotland (October 17).