Australia v West Indies, U-19 World Cup, quarter-final February 23, 2014

Pooran's innings a mark of maturity, skill

From a young age, Nicolas Pooran was identified as a batsman of high caliber and his maturity came to the fore during his 143 in a losing cause against Australia Under-19s

The Under-19 World Cup is not just about the untold stories of the journeys taken by the players getting there, but also of the time, money and emotion invested by their parents. Nicolas Pooran's father had flown to the UAE to watch his son play his first World Cup. Had he delayed his departure back to Couva in Trinidad by a day, he would have witnessed his son play one of the most memorable innings under pressure in the tournament's history.

At 70 for 8, West Indies looked in danger of imploding for a sub-100 total but Pooran, a left-hand middle-order batsman, salvaged whatever he could and trusted No.10 Jerome Jones' batting abilities enough to keep Australia on the field for almost the full 50 overs, making them earn the last two wickets. Pooran smashed 143 and contributed an incredible 69% of the team's total. When he was finally dismissed in the 50th over, he got handshakes and pats on the back from all the Australians for his stupendous effort. A warm embrace from his dad would have been the icing on the cake.

While Pooran said it was "unfortunate" his father had left before the game, he found moral support from a countryman in the commentary box. Daren Ganga, the former West Indies and Trinidad batsman, has been tracking Pooran's performances since his school-cricket days and spoke of Pooran's dad's dedication to his son's game. Pooran senior, who once studied law with Ganga before dropping out, has allowed his own job as a police inspector with the Protective Services in Trinidad to take a backseat for the sake of his son's cricket.

"I spoke to Nicolas today and he reminded me that his dad left yesterday," Ganga said on the sidelines of the match. "I told him that I will take over the role of supporting him."

When Pooran flicked a boundary down to fine leg to record his first hundred in U-19 one-dayers for West Indies, his thoughts went to his friend Christian, who had succumbed to dengue fever before the tournament.

"I was talking to a friend last night and I told him that I will get a hundred in this game," Pooran said. "It was a tribute to a friend, who passed away recently. He always supported me, every time."

Pooran's knock stood out not just for the power in his shots, that cleared the long boundaries, and the precise placement when the Australians attacked him but also his temperament. Batting with the tail demands you trust them to shed their aggressive instincts, defend the last couple of balls and also turn down easy singles. When the pair had added 50 of 47 balls, Jones had faced just eight of those. In their stand of 136, Jones contributed just 20. Jones was the understated hero, who allowed Pooran as much time as possible to size up the field and the bowlers.

"Farming the strike is never as easy as it looks as you don't know which ball will get you out," Pooran said. "I was basically trying to bat four balls every over, and fifth and sixth ball I was just trying to make him confident."

While the nature of his strokes can evoke mild comparisons with Darren Bravo and Chris Gayle, Pooran's biggest inspiration doesn't even hail from the islands. "I look up to MS Dhoni," Pooran said. "As you can see, whenever he goes out to bat, he will be under pressure. That's the lesson I took from his book."

That Pooran displayed so much maturity for an 18-year-old in a back-to-the-wall situation didn't come as a big surprise to Ganga.

"He has carried the weight and responsibility of his school and club to a lesser extent and he has been in situations like this," Ganga said. "Unfortunately in this game, he quite did not have the kind of support he would have wanted except for Jones. He has grown accustomed to taking control, and being the lead, so to speak, in the batting."

Ganga said Pooran had, from a young age, shown high caliber as a batsman, dominating cricket at the U-15 level in Trinidad and Tobago and touring with the secondary schools team to India in 2013. Soon after, he was playing in the Regional 50-over competition for his country at the top level. He was then picked up by Trinidad & Tobago Red Steele for the Caribbean Premier League and in his debut game, displayed his big-hitting ability with 54, which included six sixes. Attacking the likes of Sunil Narine was his claim to fame. Though he wasn't very successful in the Champions League T20 in India, Ganga said Pooran's talent was "never in doubt." In this tournament, an unbeaten 67 in the last match against Canada was the boost Pooran needed against tougher bowling.

Pooran is yet to play a first-class match and Ganga feels that while he will be defined by his limited-overs game at the moment, he might have to "unlearn a few things and tighten his game."

West Indies may have failed to make it past the quarter-finals, but Pooran's knock will be one of their biggest takeaways. According to Ganga, the innings has done justice to Pooran's talent. "He has left an indelible mark in the competition," Ganga said.

Kanishkaa Balachandran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on February 26, 2014, 3:42 GMT

    I was able to see this youngster on ESPN and was astounded to see the level of maturity and confidence displayed by one so young. It's not often we see such degree of excellence unfolded in the cricket arena. I likened this young man to a young Lawrence Rowe in his "hay days." From what I read of young Pooran, assures me he is in the best hands to be guided along the difficult path to the top where West Indies cricket is concerned.

  • Rodney on February 25, 2014, 15:22 GMT

    saw d entire innings was a treat for any cricket fan. didnt even watch d bowling didnt care if we won or lost dis innings was bigger than a victory. WICB should show a tape of this innings to d team b4 every series at all levels. let our players c how to hav confidence in der ability and dont jus give away der wkts wen dey tink its over. goodluck in d future NICO next IPL star big $$$$ 4get about WICB bad management dey need time to kill great talent dey didnt get enough time wit NARINE and they surely wudnt hav it wit u cause "DONE BIG AREADY" AH NEXT TRINI TO D IPL. '

  • Dummy4 on February 25, 2014, 12:05 GMT

    Just by seeing the way he bats, he looks a future star. Don't wanna put pressure on the young fella, but i'm not so sure that i want him to be a keeper-batsman, he looks good enough to be a pure middle-order batsman. Can't get too carried away as the level was only in the under-19s, but the future looks very bright indeed. Mind you we were saying the same about Adrian Barath at the time, then injuries and poor form have sent his promising career into reverse. Let's hope that Pooran's progression is left allowed to prosper with growing experience and no injuries or distractions.

  • Dummy4 on February 24, 2014, 20:53 GMT

    Great innings! He played all the shots, including the late cut.Lets hope he can stay the course. West Indies cricket needs talents like his. Sincerely hope management has a plan for this youngster's development.Based on reports, I am sure his Dad has. The importance of parental support is the great lesson here. Continue to strive Nicholas Pooran.

  • CRIC on February 24, 2014, 11:14 GMT

    Considering that Ramdin's batting has been excellent in the test arena over the past year and a half, let's not begin the debate to replace him just yet. Pooran had a great day, let's hope he has a chance in the regional four day tournament and gets some more big scores. His time will come...if he's managed well...

    Don't forget Ray Jordan too. A fine showing by the young speedster, who consistenty took wickets and bowled sharply for a teenager, up at 90mph against the SA boys. Two more years of growing, strength and conditioning (another area the WI are a joke), and he could be very rapid.

    Well done to Pooran, now go on and make everybody really proud.

  • Milan on February 24, 2014, 3:28 GMT

    This was a fantastic innings, I 'watched' it all on cricinfo. I felt very lucky to see that, I hadn't seen much of the tournament. Now I will be watching more closely. Fantastic resiliency from Jerome Jones too. I wish Australia had lost, just to see more of Nicolas Pooran soonest. But I look forward very much to strong years ahead!

  • Dummy4 on February 24, 2014, 1:34 GMT

    I hope he does not follow some of the senior squad members who do not have West Indies cricket at heart or Even the Top Brass Cameron and others who sold out West Indies for a few dollars . I hope he keep focus and the right company and coaching. Do not get carried away with Big bucks and fall in the rot most of the senior squad is in right now- they can't even beat Ireland

  • Ali on February 23, 2014, 22:45 GMT

    well with any luck ... after all the Jamaicans and Small Islanders fail ..

    Pooran might get a call up to play for WI in his 30's ......

    I expect Chadwick Walton and Devon Thomas to each get a 3-5 year run as WI keeper before Pooran ...

    All we need is one bad series from Ramdin and it will be the end of his career and we will see either Walton or Thomas in the WI team .....

  • Dummy4 on February 23, 2014, 21:08 GMT

    A next Gilchrist in the making, if he can keep his head on, stay humble, hungry and ignore the bad apples in WI's management circles.

  • Dummy4 on February 23, 2014, 19:05 GMT

    Congrats to the young man. The WI wicketkeeping gloves will be yours in a few years, if you want it badly enough.

  • No featured comments at the moment.